It’s odd that you see a single trend running through games from a publisher, but Namco Bandai really seems to be enamored of partnership a s a game design idea. I’ve written about Majin and the Forsaken Kingdom‘s odd couple and, of course, the tense bond between Monkey and Trip gives Enslaved it’s essential friction.
The third game in that trend is Knights Contract, a medieval hack-n-slash being developed by Game Republic. Set in Germany during the Dark Ages, the game has players controlling a warrior named Heinrich. He had the grim task of killing people afflicted with the Black Plague. A series of events brings him into conflict with three evil witches, whom he slays. But his victory’s a hollow one that leaves him cursed with immortality, as a parting gift from the witches.
The curse can only be lifted by killing the witches again so Heinrich sends his days as an immortal demon executioner, hoping to come across the necromantic trio again. He finally gets his chance when a malevolent warlock named Dr. Faust resurrects the witches to use their power to evil ends. The twist is that Faust is the one who ordered Heinrich to kill the witches in the first place. But one witch named Gretchen actually becomes his partner and this is where Knights Contract gets its symbiotic relationship.
Heinrich’s unable to be killed as a result of his curse but Gretchen can be harmed. He’ll need to protect her from the swarms of demonic enemies the game will throw at you. She, in turn, will be the source of the player’s magic attacks. Heinrich wields a giant scythe that doles out quick, bladed attacks and hammer-like blows that are heavier and slower. The souls reaped by Heinrich’s scythe will fuel Gretchen’s magic. When she gets hurt, he’ll have to carry her in his arms in order for her to heal.
While much of Knights Contract takes off on a God of War-style template, it will have elements of European folklore woven into it. Formerly portrayed as a figure in a star-crossed love affair, Rapunzel shows up a boss fight later in the game. Players will actually have to climb her hair to get to the confrontation with the fabled character. The game unfolds in a gothic, 17-Century Europe crawling with demons and Dr. Faust refers back to the infamous literary figure who struck a deal with the Devil. Namco promises plenty of weird grotesquerie when Knights Contract comes out some time early next year.