Why do you like White Knight Chronicles?

And why do you think it’s getting panned? An open letter to the role-playing gamer community.

By Edwin Evans-Thirlwell, February 7, 2010


Readers often cry havoc over the conclusions of the gaming press, but seldom are the battle lines scored so deeply and conspicuously as in the case of White Knight Chronicles.

Level 5′s PS3 RPG has been treated to a thorough roasting by reviewers, with a dismal 64% average on Metacritic. IGN’s Ryan Clements comments that “the only thing more colossal than the White Knight is my disappointment”, while 1UP’s Dustin Quillen calls the game a “bland, second-rate RPG”.

I chipped in for VGD yesterday in what began as a review but wound up an opinion piece on WKC’s undelivered promise, remarking that its flaws “are those of a lot of JRPGs, but all the worse for the lateness of the hour.”

After publishing the feature, I took an extended tour of WKC review threads and forum posts. The enthusiasm the game has stirred up across the community – not just from those who have only screenshots and videos to go on, but from those who’ve played its older Japanese incarnation – is, quite frankly, flabbergasting, as is the outrage directed at those less-than-favourable reviews. I’m still convinced I’m right to think of the title as an insipid, sporadically interesting but generally redundant effort from a developer who should know better, but my curiosity has been piqued.

So here’s a simple proposal. Whether you’ve played White Knight Chronicles or not, I want you to tell us why you like it, and why you think I and the majority of writers don’t. Feel free to indulge any conspiracy theories or unpleasant character assessments you might have. If we get enough responses, I’ll add another page, or two, or three to this article and paste the better ones in.

Well, what are you waiting for? Give all that bubbling discontent a voice.

Posted in Features, and tagged with .

19 Responses to “Why do you like White Knight Chronicles?”

  1. Jay T. says:

    White Knight Chronicles its a good and fun game,the problem with reviewers is one of perception,had W.K.C. came out in the U.S. back in 08 like it did in Japan the scores would be higher,granted the story leaves something to be desired but the biggest complain about the game is that it does not bring something new to the table,a lot of games have gotten low reviews this generation because of this.We play games to have fun White Knight Chronicles is a fun game.

  2. Edwin says:

    Thanks for getting the ball rolling, Jay :) The delayed Western release does seem to have contributed to the negative reception.

  3. J.B. says:

    WKC just gives me that feeling of playing a old classic story of knight saving a princess, with a few twists in between. I think after a lot of people started playing wrpg’s (fallout, mass effect,….) they wanted to see these elements in jrpg’s. The same concept can be applied with MAG,it is NOT COD, it’s game that gives you the feeling of a small war and requires you to play as a team or you’ll lose. It’s really not that bad for the beginning for a trilogy.

  4. most wkc scores are off says:

    WKC is a solid JRPG…yeah, there are some improvements the game could use..but still thoses faults dont drop the game all the way down to the review score of a 5.1(IGN’S REVIEW) the game isnt perfect but what rpg is? FF JRPGS are probably the only games that are near perfection..

    WKC is a JRPG that has a very old school feel to it, the story and music reminds you of games like secret of mana and breath of fire, and so on..and Breath of fire, secret of mana, legend of dragoon, and so on had pretty clique stories that were quite similar to one another, but theyre still conisdered as JRPG classics..

    games like lost odyssey and infinite discovery got higher scores than WKC, and it’s pretty ridiculous IMO..infinite discovery was one of the worst jrpgs ive ever played and lost odyssey was like a poor man’s ff10..similar gameplay, with a story went extremely slow..When i play WKC, i feel like im playing WKC, not breath of fire or some FF clone.

  5. Eward says:

    I just started playing and so far it’s not bad. The graphics aren’t as bad as they make it seem. As for people complaining there’s nothing new… Final Fantasy hasn’t done anything new since VII and X (loved blitz ball). How much can you do with an rpg that hasn’t been done. Haven’t played online yet waiting to level up so can’t comment on that. Like stated above it is fun and games are supposed to be fun first pretty second.

  6. It’s perfect for its great storyline and I was thrilled on how much detail went into the character creation, from the jaw line to the eye color! The graphics is not that stunning but it has a style that’s appealing that other games lack.

  7. tiffac says:

    Its simple why reviewers and gamers hate JRPG’s nowadays coz we’ve had too much of it last gen. There is too much redundancy to last us a life time and it has affected the peoples views of current gen JRPG’s.

    Remember JRPG’s are story driven 1st where your taken into a movie unlike WRPG where its world 1st like, where your basically doing D&D on a console instead of a board game.

    So it has become a perception, rather than having an open mind and knowing what JRPG’s are strong at and to whom they really cater to.

  8. Brush says:

    out of 10, what would you have given it?

    A review may have sufficed, rather than a ‘why it could have been great’ article, and a ‘why do you think it’s so good’ article…i suppose if there was a particularly large outcry it merits more investigation..was there?

    i don’t really know if it’s underrated or a could have been great, but it looks a fair ol way from a top game to me.

    Personally I think it’s entirely down to platform. There have been a fair few decent JRPG’s this gen, Eternal Sonata for example was Ok, Tales Of Vesperia is excellent. And a lot of people only look at half the market…so FF and this are on their mind, Vesperia is out of it (it might not be for too long should the PS3 version get a UK release).

    If you are looking at half the genre picture (or less given Wii RPG’s and the huge amount of DS RPG’s) then it is significant if a game like this underperforms, and people are also going to get behind what little there is (hence your fan outrage). In this regard the PS platform isn’t in the same position as PS2 was and i think people can’t (but some still do) look at the genre the same way they often did last gen.

    So, in terms of the overall market, why should this one not drop like a stone, a dragon quest: journey of the cursed king doesn’t have to be explained away, neither does tales of vesperia, or bowsers inside story.

    Just giving a fleeting glance to it, i would say probably an uninspired art style, iffy voice acting, and a combat system which looks incredibly slow (unless you like watching circles fill up) make for a bad RPG….Infinite Undiscovery…could have been great…if it wasn’t uter shit…is this not similar?

    • Edwin says:

      Well, I guess we won’t really know how many Europeans and North Americans truly give a shit till the first lot of sales figures come in, but I have noticed an unusually sharp contrast between what people say in forums and what reviewers have written. On Kikizo’s Facebook page, even (or if you want more illustrious examples, IGN, 1UP and Gamespot review threads) :)

      Choice of platform may have something to do with it, ya, and I agree that the RPG hardcore are pretty set in their ways. The Mass Effect 2 factor shouldn’t be discounted either. In case anyone’s interested, I have yet to play ME2 – the article-length whinge I linked to above owes nothing to any undeclared BioWare fanboyism ;)

      What would I have given it? Probably a 6. I’ve played around 20 hours and was intending to review the game, but ended up writing more of a retrospective. Blame muddle-headedness brought on by end-of-week fatigue (I was up till four that morning finishing Heavy Rain).

      • Jay T. says:

        I’ll say that the problem is just the fat that In Europa and the USA,when Gamers find something that they like,they want all their games to be like that one game,the shooters make for a good example,we got Call of Duty and after that,if all shooters don’t have the same controls,well they are not good,I like the original controls from Killzone 2,but most people complain they suck,just because they are used to Call of Duty’s,with that said,W.K.C. does not have elements from Mass Effect,The Elder Scroll or Fallout 3.

  9. Brush says:

    @Jay T

    The JRPG ‘genre’ though doesn’t see as much innovation in terms of mechanics, or art style, as FPS games though, you have a few realtime combat systems yes, but if you stick Half Life, Borderlands, Fallout, Far Cry2, Condemned and Bioshock up as fairly diverse examples of FPS games….it’s hard to find a list of RPG’s so structurally diverse, or with such varying art and storytelling styles.

    What they do have up their sleeve is stories granted, and from Shin Megami Tensei to Paper Mario you’ve got a lot of different types of story that can be told. But alas, the norm is spiky hair, crystals holding power from an anciant civilisation who knew the key to everything, saving princesses, annoying teenagers who want to join you to fight monsters too, and the odd repressed gulp from your teenage lead.

    So, i think the opposite, the problem with JRPG’s is that JRPG fans want things to be the same more than FPS players. And I think if they do stick by titles that have a dearth of innovation, well, they’ll continue to be fed the same old stuff.

    As an outsider re this one, I can’t see any significance to it other than it’s a Level 5 RPG, good company, but this looks to be their most paint by numbers game. Perhaps if JRPG players give their new DS game a look that has the involvement of studio Ghibli (pretty good storytellers), they might head in a better direction (or at least back to their DQ / Rogue galaxy high points on the PS2).

    I just see this genre stagnating further…FF13 looks entirely regressive bar audio & graphics. The likes of Fallout and ME2 are not my bag, but they’re moving things forward so fast compared to JRPG makers, they will leave them behind imo…you want a good Japanese fairytale on the Playstation, FF or White Knight is not the place to look, Funito Ueda’s next game Last Guardian is where you’ll probably find it

  10. Jono says:

    Before I start, I haven’t played it, and I’m not too fussed about it either.

    As far as complaints go, I think there are a couple of factors at play. Top of the list is the status afforded to White Knight Chronicles when it was first announced. It was pretty much the first PS3 game to show promise. So you’ve got the double-whammy of brand loyalty fuelled by hype, the latter of which gaming websites have only themselves to blame for!

    The other big one is the review criteria. This generation has seen a step-change in the way scores are awarded, paticularly with regard to Japanese games. JRPG’s always been conservative in terms of gameplay. But they made up for it with a generally solid (if clichéd) storyline in comparison to what was on offer in the west. As a result they were awarded 9′s and 10′s. Now, they are being blasted for those very same factors.

    This is due to the huge improvement in narrative seen in western games of late. Creations like Modern Warfare, Mass Effect and Arkham Asylum have shown that you can weave compelling narrative into innovative gameplay without compromising either. Reviewers cannot review in a vacuum, and in the context of a dynamic West versus a dusty old Japan, games like White Knight have to get lower scores, or else the whole thing falls apart.

    Of course, for people who like Japanese RPG’s, it must look like VINDICTIVE reviewers have just decided to move the goalposts because they are ‘BIASED’ and what they’re doing is NOT FAIR! And that’s the third factor. People are naturally attracted to information that vindicates their existing prejudice, and try to find reasons to undermine anything that discredits it. Of course, the answer to that is simple. Reviews are subjective, if you genuinely enjoy White Knight Chronicles then there’s nothing in a low review score for you to worry about. Feel free to disagree if you really want.

    Whew! Think that just about covers it.

  11. Cyrus says:

    Also wanna know why so many western reviewer hate this game.. Personally I love this game very much, it got all the RPG essiential elements in one single game, and most of these elements can’t be found in Western RPG, e.g. Nice environmental design, nice equippment & armor design, strong story telling (no matter you like the story or not, at least it gives you a clear picture of what you are doing), a feel of fantasy, innovative combat control (not just button smashing or same boring FPS style fighting), and most importantly, strong online elements that can keep you busy for quite a while. If you don’t like this game doesn’t mean this is a bad game, just because you don’t like and don’t know RPG at all but want some quick action/shooting with a little bit free roaming.

  12. Morrigan says:

    Excuse me but the image you used in your article is from the game RF Online. That’s Lothan III of Accretia race.

  13. Adolmaea says:

    1. Excellent music and scenery.

    2. Difficult gameplay.

    3. Great voice acting.

    4. Kara/Dragias twist.

    5. You become a freakin’ 23 foot tall knight and own all.

    So what if it’s not for everyone? I love it.

  14. Phorgotten says:

    I agree with Cyrus on every point. If you want to play a game with high walls and crates that tell you where the action is, go back to your FPS’s. I love all kinds of video games but there is nothing that can top the experience of any RPG. It gives a feel that you just don’t get from any other games these days. Yes, I’m talking about MW2 and now Black Ops and BF:BC2 and Assassin’s Creed and Killzone 2 and I could go on and on with this list. These games are great, spectacular even, don’t get me wrong I own almost all of them. But these are all bland experiences that are to be honest, too serious. Is it so hard to create a game that is lively and colorful? Honestly… That is why I love coming back and playing any of RPG especially JRPG’s because they have such a creative atmosphere that draws you in. I hope that WKC 2 comes out in America and I hope that the so called “clichéd” JRPG’s never stop coming out because they bring so many creative and colorful stories to the table that many other games don’t. To end this somewhat of a rant I would like to say anyone who hasn’t played the game and is commenting on here can’t even construct a proper argument because their basis is off of ignorance.

  15. Phorgotten says:

    Also, to Cyrus, don’t be hating on us westerners! Some of us have the same love of games as you do!

  16. pheonix says:

    ok first off i hate you you haters this game was amazing i will be at the store right when it comes out the twists were amazing not completley new but it made up for that with the characters/Incorupts i would give this game an 8 easily i haven’t gone online but i have finished it leaves of way to early i think there could have been another 10 hours.


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