Pocket Witch is one of those games that makes you scream. Furthermore, it tests you to your limits and makes you swear more than you’d like. However, its cruel action and simple style make it an addictive and easy game to pick up.
Developed by Naoka Games and Eastasiasoft Limited and published by the latter, this is a precision platforming title. What’s more, it comprises many minor puzzles and has a fantastic retro aesthetic. Consequently, it is a wonderful but harsh experience for fans of old-school gaming.
Pocket Witch lacks originality.
There is lots to love about Pocket Witch. Yet, its lack of originality will drive you mad. Subsequently, many of its core mechanics are well-trodden or borrowed from similar games. However, the stage design and basic enemies are interesting and challenging to overcome.
You control a witch that has been locked in a dungeon. This dank space is full of traps, metal doors, and roaming enemies. As such, you must plan your route, use your special powers, and avoid the attention of each creature. If you can do this, you’ll collect an array of keys, unlock each blocked passageway, and escape your prison.
As you can see, this idea is as old as the hills. But it matters not. The execution of each simple mechanic and the excellent aesthetics work in perfect harmony. Moreover, the brutal nature of each stage tests your patience as well as your foul vocabulary.
Easy to understand but tough to master.
What I love about precision platforming games is how tough they are to play. Normally, they are deceptively simple to pick up, but they’ll break your balls repeatedly. Pocket Witch does just that with its basic gameplay mechanics but claustrophobic and tight levels to navigate. The titular hero must squeeze through tiny gaps while avoiding spikes, fireballs, and roaming enemies.
If you can avoid your foes, you’ll have to time your jumps, use a special dash ability, and grab any keys you see. However, this is easier said than done as spiders and your enemies block your way. Accordingly, you’ll die repeatedly, and curse repeatedly. Yet, you won’t be able to put it down as it has a distinct “just one more try” feel about it.
Pocket Witch is brilliantly old-school.
Now, I understand the hatred of old-school games. Many people want developers to use the full power of each modern machine. Yet, I have a soft spot for retro indie games and I adored Pocket Witch because of it. With a gaudy colour palette and basic single-screen level design, it won’t set the world alight. Yet, its straightforward design and excellent level layout make it easy to look at and fun to explore. On top of this, the simple sprites are great and the animation is rudimentary but suitable for the art style.
The audio was equally good. The Halloween-style soundtrack added drama while suiting the witchy theme. Moreover, the stripped-back sound effects don’t overpower the action, and this was a great choice. It would have been easy for the developers to go over the top. However, thankfully, they kept things simple. Accordingly, it was never uncomfortably loud, and I never tired of what I saw or heard.
The controls could have been tighter.
Loose controls and precision platformers do not complement one another. Sadly, though, this is exactly what happens in Pocket Witch. Disappointingly, the navigation inputs lack accuracy and this causes unnecessary issues. Consequently, you’ll die more than you’d expect and your patience is tested more than it should be. However, other than this, the action inputs are responsive and the button layout is easy to follow.
Another issue with Pocket Witch is its lack of longevity or replay value. With only 30 levels and no collectables to hunt, there is little reason to return. Its only saving grace is that the gameplay is challenging enough to keep you going for hours. Yet, once you complete it, there is no NG+ mode, nor is there a speedrun option. Subsequently, this was disappointing, as it was a missed opportunity.
Pocket Witch is an enjoyable yet brutal platformer.
Though I despise a rage-inducing game, I found Pocket Witch to be enjoyable and challenging. The simple mechanics, interesting stage design, and old-school aesthetics were great. But it is held back by a lack of replay value or in-depth content. Accordingly, I recommend that you buy it despite its shortcomings. Can you help the witch escape her prison? Avoid the spikes, evade your foes, and get to the locked door.