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Knights in the Nightmare

Score: 86%
ESRB: Teen
Publisher: Atlus
Developer: Sting
Media: Cartridge/1
Players: 1
Genre: Real-Time Strategy/ RPG

Graphics & Sound:

Knights in the Nightmare is a beautiful new real-time strategy game from Atlus. The "Tome of Lost Souls" that comes as a pre-order bonus shows exactly how beautiful the game really is. I highly recommend finding this book as a game companion if you can!

The graphics are really pretty, but quite crowded. You have to collect certain items with your wisp while avoiding all bullets, which can come in many shapes and some different colors. There's a lot happening on the screen at once, but they did a very good job of making everything so clean that even with a busy screen, it's not that hard to do what you need to do with a little work and patience. I think this game gets credit for using the most maximum potential of the DS screen that I have ever seen!

The background music is hauntingly beautiful, which fits very well with the game since a lot of your monsters are ghosts and ghouls. You also get foreground music that tells you some of what is happening on your board. As I said before, there is a lot going on so the music can help you differentiate some of it. There is also a bonus CD that comes with launch copies of the game. If you can find this CD, it's worth it. There are 38 tracks on it from the game. Once again, I recommend trying to find this CD as well as the game!


Gameplay:

As I've said, Knights in the Nightmare is a real-time strategy RPG. Playing as a wisp, you control one or more characters on a board full of squares. I say control, but it's a very limited control. Your characters don't really move from the square that you start them on. You control how strong their attack is and what direction they attack. You can also change their weapons, but not all characters can use all weapons, so you have to be careful what you take into battle.

Speaking of characters, there are so many different characters with different skill sets for you to use. There are over 115 knights that you can recruit in the game. Recruiting them isn't always easy, though. You'll have to destroy items during the stages to find key items to give to knights to recruit. Key items only work on the knight they were meant for, so you have to figure out which item is for which knight. You can miss recruiting certain knights if you're not careful, so make sure to collect as many key items as you can.

Each knight has their own class. This class controls their attack range, what items they can use, and more. It is very important that you learn what the different classes do so that you know when to use which knight! There are 7 different classes that the knights will belong to. If you're like me, you'll find yourself gravitating more towards certain types, but you really do need to balance them all sometimes to get through different areas. The further you go in the game, the more important this will be!


Difficulty:

Knights in the Nightmare has two different difficulty settings for you to choose from. I highly recommend you start on Easy, because even on Easy, this is a VERY difficult game. The first thing you should do is go through the Tutorial. Make sure that you have plenty of time, though. The Tutorials take about an hour to finish all of them. Unfortunately, you really can't play the game without going through them or you'll be totally lost. My one really big complaint with Knights in the Nightmare is that this tutorial wasn't just incorporated into the game. The problem with it as it stands now is that you only learn the different pieces of the game, but you have no clue how they all fit together. There are just so many different parts that it really doesn't click instantly. By the time you get to the game, you are most likely going to forget at least one important thing. If the first level had just been made into the tutorial where they showed it to you all together, it would have made much more sense!

The one other difficult thing is collecting all the knights. If you happen to miss their key item, you're pretty much stuck on that knight. Granted that's not really that big a deal in some cases, but in others, it is. Not to mention your knights can die if their life force goes to zero. You can sacrifice other knights to reanimate the life force of a knight, so you really do need to get as many knights as you can. Once a knight dies, he's gone forever.


Game Mechanics:

The control mechanics in Knights in the Nightmare aren't the easiest, but they're not the most difficult either. You control everything with the stylus. Your wisp follows wherever you move it with the stylus. If you want a knight to attack, you hold the wisp over him. If you want to equip an item, you move it to the knight with the wisp. There are a lot of other things that you need to be aware of, though. The monsters will attack. Their attacks don't hurt your knight at all, but they do hurt your wisp. If your wisp gets hit by any of their attacks, you lose time. While this is a real-time strategy game, you have a certain amount of rounds and each round has a set amount of time. If you do not kill enough enemies in the right places when you are out of rounds, then you lose. So you can imagine that it is in your best interest to take very good care of your wisp.

While you're dodging attacks, you also need to collect crystals that come from attacking the enemies to keep your power up. With that many things flying around the screen, it takes some practice to keep your wisp where you want it. You can also use your wisp to change the act phase between Law and Chaos. Some weapons only work in certain states, so you need to make sure that you have the right weapon equipped for the current state. You'll need to switch the state around to keep the mist up. Like I said, there is a lot to do in this game!

Knights in the Nightmare is a beautiful, but very complex game. While it does have flaws, if you like real-time strategy, I recommend you pick this game up and try it. You're probably better to rent it first if you can find it, just to make sure you like the play style. It is a bit different from any other game I've played. This game is a major investment in time. You can't just pick it up and play it for a few minutes, so make sure you've got the time for it!


-Cyn, GameVortex Communications
AKA Sara Earl

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