Back in 2009, Knights in the Nightmare for DS garnered quite a bit of attention (from the RPG community, anyway). It was a truly unique game featuring a complex mix of strategy, role-playing and bullet hell genres. Coupled with a dark and interesting story it instantly became popular among many people. But complexity is a double-edged sword and it was as much loathed for its incredibly complicated nature as it was loved. Fast-forward to 2010 when Sting decided to bring us a port of this interesting title to the PSP.
If you're still wondering what this game is actually about then after reading this, I highly suggest you take a look at some of the screenshots. This is definitely a case where pictures speak louder than words. To sum it up briefly, the game plays out in individual stages on grid-like environments. Killing enemies provides experience and orbs which you can later use to level up your Knights and their weapons, but that is where similarities to any other RPGs end.
To win a stage you must kill enemies that are colored identically to a tic-tac-toe-like board on the bottom of the screen. Crossing out a row by killing these enemies wins you the battle. Most of your Knights can't move, though. Instead, you drag and drop weapons (using the only unit you truly control; the Wisp) with different abilities onto them to provide them with what they need to reach their foes. At any time you can also swap the 'phase' between law and chaos by pressing R. This affects the battle in a number of ways, but is mostly used for swapping between a weapon's different abilities.
As you've probably guessed by now, Knights in the Nightmare likes to put an unusual spin on things, and the story is no exception. Like in the DS version, you won't discover what is really happening until much later in the game. Most of the story early on is told in flashbacks where you see how the knights you have recruited died. During battle you can even hover over the knights with your cursor and hear their thoughts; it's a nice little touch. Once the story does start to develop it's really rather interesting, but the lack of understandable plot early on may put a lot of people off giving the game a chance.
At this stage, it seems little has been changed from the DS version. There is a slight graphical improvement to make use of the PSPs increased capabilities, but it's not overly noticeable. The sound track remains the same (as far as we have seen), but new content has been added. Some of the basic tutorials have now been implemented inside the game so you don't have to spend hours with them beforehand. There will also be a third storyline where Princess Yggdra (from Yggdra Union) is the leading character. However, there are few details on how this will fit into the existing story as of yet.
The biggest difference, of course, is the controls. On the DS, Knights in the Nightmare relies almost entirely on the touch screen. Without such technology on the PSP, many of us were wondering exactly how the new control system would work. I'm relieved to say that they have adjusted it well. Though you may not find the pinpoint accuracy of a touch-screen, you no longer have your own hand blocking half the screen either. You can even adjust the sensitivity of the Wisp on the fly using the Triangle and Circle buttons.
From the information we have been given so far, and the little I have played, this version of Knights is shaping up to be just as interesting as the DS one. If you enjoyed the original it may well be worth taking a look at this one for the extra content, but if you loathed the first and found it overly complex then there is little reason for you to give it a second chance here.
Stay tuned for the review, coming soon to a webpage near you!