Witchcrafty is cute but flawed, like the platform it came out on
Witchcraft Independent extract
The competition for 2D side-scrolling action platforms is fierce. Particularly in the independent space, where games like Hollow Knight shine brightly despite the small development teams, the average platformer has an uphill battle to stand out. But for each Axiom Verge or Cyber shadow, there are dozens of games that fall apart. Witchcraft is a beautifully animated and fairly proficient sidecroller, but it takes more to get players to hook up and perceive the mainstream.
Witchcraft starts off pretty nicely. The art is cute, perfectly conveying the type of play gamers can expect. Players control an adorable witch wearing a large hat and wield a starry wand to strike enemies. In no time, players find magical spells that can burn boxes or zap stone walls, and clearing those obstacles allows them to progress. While browsing the fantasy-inspired environments, players can find bright blue gems that can be exchanged for currency in stores for more spell slots or health points. Standard stuff like that. But unfortunately the frustrations Witchcraft outweighs the fun.
Problems and bugs are frequent, to the point of distraction. Sometimes the framerate drops will cause players to roll in enemies rather than pass them, and motion stutters sometimes cause the player to restart from the nearest checkpoint. Checkpoints don’t happen as often as players might expect, and since the protagonist only starts with two health points, he’ll find himself dying and restarting much more often than expected. It’s possible to look past a handful of issues, but the frequency of crashes takes away the simple fun of exploring and duplicate jumping that is the core of this game.
Witchcraft has structural problems that make it difficult to love. Earning money is a chore, as early enemies only drop one or two gems at a time, while any purchase in the store can cost at least two hundred and fifty gems. The player character is fragile, and walking through rooms over and over in front of the same enemies just to die from some stiffness in movement isn’t a fun feeling. Moreover, Witchcraft never really fulfills its premise of exploration and excitement. For a game that bills itself as a “Metroidvania platform,” there just isn’t much of the flashback or the star exploration style that makes these games fun.
The fantasy world is evocative and varied, but the story is nearly impossible to understand due to poor localization and poor grammar. There are goblins, witches, and gnomes that the player meets that they have conversations with, but good luck trying to talk to these characters after meeting them for the first time. It’s disappointing to stumble upon a magic tome the size of a building, hoping to find a little narrative motivation, and instead read that “It’s called Summer Castle, and he rules over him and over him. all the magic forest – Reine “. Writing like that is almost incomprehensible, and all the more disappointing because feels as it is the kind of game that would use fantastic tropes and traps to subvert expectations.
A brave main character and truly magnificent animation (especially with goblin archers and halberd bearers) are not enough to save Witchcraft. Even the console exclusivity of this game, sometimes a selling point for independent titles, opposes it. Witchcraft is currently only available on PlayStation Vita, an interesting move from the publisher Sometimes You. With the short visual novel Dull gray, Witchcraft has the ignominious honor of being one of the last games made for the Vita. For the novelty alone, the game is worth playing, although it might be worth the wait for a few fixes to improve stability.
To quote Witchcraft‘s Dark Witch, “I Represent Your Disappointment” is the perfect summary of this title as a whole. Despite some good ideas and some good pixel art, in a year of a new 2D Metroid, Witchcraft does not offer enough to stand out from its peers.