Witchcrafty is one of those games that draws you in with its cute dynamic and friendly aesthetics. However, you soon realise that this ball-breaking experience will chew you up and spit you out in an instant. Consequently, though I enjoyed my time with it, I shouted plenty of profanities while exploring its colourful fantasy world.
Developed by PigeonDev and published by Sometimes You, this is a puzzle platformer. What’s more, it has some mild Metroidvania elements, a wicked sense of humour, and some delicious lore chucked in for good measure. On top of this, there is a range of monsters to defeat, collectables to find, and some spells to unlock. As such, its simple ideas will reel you in, while its brutality will beat you around the head for good measure.
Witchcrafty tells a whimsy story.
Now, the plot of Witchcrafty won’t win any awards for originality. Yet, I loved the fun characters and amusing direction. Furthermore, the tongue-in-cheek lore adds to the mischievous nature. Consequently, there are plenty of lighthearted moments sandwiched between swearing and rage quitting.
You are a witch who lives in a delightful and peaceful enchanted wood. Sadly, the disgusting goblins have run amuck, and you are sent out by the wiser and older members of your clan to resolve the issue. Being naïve and a little green around the gills, you accept the quest even if it guarantees death. En route to discovering the truth, the heroine encounters monstrous beasts, cruel bosses, and plenty of traps. Yet, with the help of her spells and some flying brooms, she will uncover the mysteries and save the day.
The plot wasn’t the only familiar element of this game. No, Witchcrafty leans heavily on some well-trodden but enjoyable mechanics. The protagonist can jump, fall, and fight like her peers. However, where this stands out is the use of magic spells and the minor Metroidvania elements. As you explore each zone, you’ll unlock new spells to unblock pathways. Furthermore, there are shops with upgrade materials that must be revisited if you wish to complete the game.
On top of this, the developers were caught in two minds when it came to the difficulty settings. On one hand, the map is exposed from the off, and every element of treasure can be seen immediately. Now, I liked this Metroidvania-lite approach, but hardcore fans will not be happy. Subsequently, on the other hand, to appease those nutcases, the developers made the action unbelievably cruel. Therefore, failure and death are all but assured.
Disappointingly, if you die, and you will, you lose all your progress as you return to your last save point. This may not seem so bad, but there are limited locations where the action is recorded, and this means death is a painful experience. However, the developers aren’t monsters, and they placed a plethora of healing flowers throughout each stage to take the edge off. Sadly, though, destroying an army of monsters to gather said plants is easier said than done.
As with most platforming games, you must overcome ridiculous bosses to progress. As you’d expect, Witchcrafty follows suit. With a large arsenal of overpowered brutes and creatures to defeat, your skills are put to the test. Luckily, though, most of these monsters follow a set routine, and learning their weaknesses and improving the hero help to overcome each sticky situation.
Alongside this, the more spells you unlock, the easier things become. Yet, no matter how powerful you become, much of the boss-fighting action relies on quick thinking and even quicker reactions. Accordingly, you will die plenty of times as you try to defeat each ridiculous boss that you face.
Witchcrafty has an adorable art style.
Old-school pixelated graphics aren’t for everyone. I appreciate that modern machines are ridiculously powerful and basic indie games waste the opportunity to excel. However, this being said, I enjoyed the basic graphics, the rudimentary pixelated finish, and the vivid colours. Alongside this, the varied backdrop was interesting, and the animation was smooth and simple.
Disappointingly, though, I cannot overlook the game-breaking bug that causes you to die and lose your progress. Unfortunately, the hero occasionally freezes mid-frame. When this happens, the only way to break free is to be hit by one of your foes. Now, this may not seem so bad, but some of the creatures are ridiculously powerful and will kill you instantly. Furthermore, if there are no enemies to be seen, you have to quit the game in order to resolve the issue. Consequently, this isn’t acceptable and is something that needs to be addressed.
Thankfully, I couldn’t find fault with the audio. The blend of folksy songs, upbeat tunes, and crass sound effects all worked perfectly. Moreover, each spell had its own sound, and every chapter was unique. Furthermore, I loved the aggressive nature of each boss battle and this juxtaposed the calmer moments.
I was disappointed by the badly implemented controls. Unfortunately, the inputs were not as responsive as I’d have liked and this impacts the action. Furthermore, this enhanced the difficulty, but not in a good way. Annoyingly, the sluggish controls caused you to die repeatedly, and that wasn’t acceptable. You’d become trapped in the scenery or you’d simply not attack when commanded to do so. As such, you’d be hit, lose your life, and ruin all of your progress. In short, I had no faith in the controls and this isn’t acceptable in a platforming experience.
The Metroidvania elements add to both the replay value and longevity. With blocked paths, new spells, and plenty of collectables, you’ll be forced to keep playing. Alongside this, you’ll want to collect every crystal and shard you find if you wish to unlock every available upgrade. What’s more, you must consider the brutal bosses and the likely risk of losing your life repeatedly.
Witchcrafty was fun and cute, but unnecessarily tough.
Witchcrafty has the elements to be a fantastic retro title. Disappointingly, though, it doesn’t get things quite right, and this undermines its potential. With a fun and quirky story, some excellent characters, and interesting monsters, it should have been great. However, performance issues, poor controls, and unfairly tough mechanics make this just miss the mark. Yet, I enjoyed it despite its shortcomings, and I recommend that you buy it here! Can you discover the mysteries that tarnish your land? Learn new spells, master your broomstick, and defeat every monster you face.