Witchkin Review

Witchkin plays on your childhood nightmares. The game pulls you in with intense gameplay, a strong sense of isolation, and a mysterious plot to uncover. It plays from a first-person perspective, relays on stealth and strategy over action, and has a style reminiscent of 19th-century architecture and camerawork from 1920s cinema. The game does a good job of making you feel uncomfortable throughout each of the levels of the house you must explore. As you traverse its dark corridors and rooms you are constantly given the sense that the worst thing you can imagine is about to jump out and attack you. Witchkin does well at combining childhood trauma and survival horror, and while it’s disappointing that it’s on the shorter side, it manages to provide enough intrigue and immersion for players to take a look at.

The story has you play as a young boy who is on a search for his missing sister Della, who is rumoured to have become the next victim of a child catcher, known as the “Candy Lady”. As the boy, you must explore the seemingly abandoned house that the woman resides in, and find a way to the attic, where Della is being held captive. The game’s tone and atmosphere are pitch perfect, and this helps to increase the impact of the atmosphere, and the subject matter it’s trying to convey. It’s a story of monsters that live under the bed and of things that go bump in the night, and this makes your journey throughout the house all the more engaging.

Witchkin follows a similar formula from other horror games like Slender, Amnesia and Alien: Isolation. You must explore a dark floor and find key items that will help you in your search while avoiding the floors insidious inhabitant. You begin in the house’s basement and you must make your way up each of the house’s floors by repairing ladders and finding alternative routes. The items you need are scattered throughout each of the house’s floors, usually behind locked doors and inside draws and chests. These include keys that unlock doors and containers, building materials,  and remedies. However, players must always stay clear of the singular monster that roams the area. These monsters are freakish and first encounters with them are immediately alarming as they come out of nowhere to chase you down. their designs are reminiscent of childhood toys, which have been altered from a twisted mind and they very often emit disturbing noises that make them even more terrifying.

Sight and sound are key. Knowing where the toys are is essential for knowing when the right time is to continue searching for the items. hearing them down the hallway, up close, and just around the corner is highly unnerving and lets you know exactly when the right time will be for you to move out or if you should keep hiding. players cannot fight back against the toys and this puts you much more at risk of being captured. This encourages you to always play cautiously and have an escape root in mind. Knowing how to escape also brings around light elements of strategy. Each level, besides the numerous objects to hide under, contain hidden passageways which they can use at any time. In addition, players can come across objects suck as oil that could slow down the toy’s pursuit. Darkness also plays a large role in the game. Your touch emits a bright light and without it, you can bearly see in front of you. however, using your touch can instantly attract the toy’s attention, so it’s always important to use your touch carefully.

For the most part, each of the toy’s AI is intelligent and sophisticated. Speed, complicated patrol patterns, and broad fields of view make it easy to get seen, especially when using you’re touch. When you do get spotted consequences can become critical as you desperately try to find the nearest place to hide. Finding sanctuary, while being pursued by one of these atrocities is exhilarating and provides the most memorable moments in the game. Hiding underneath a side-table or a sofa, while it searches the room for your whereabouts is always gripping and further increases your strive to be cautious.

Unfortunately, despite its solid gameplay, it’s disappointing to consider that the game ends in such a flash. The game can be completed in under two hours, which may include careful exploration and several retries. You explore a small number of floors before reaching the final level and that’s about it. There is a rather surprising twist that occurs at the end of the game, but even at over £7.00 on Steam, I expected more.

Visually, Witchkin is impressive, while it doesn’t reach the height of triple-A budgets the game looks gorgeous. With its use of black and white and neo-Victorian style, the game creates a disturbing sense of venerability whenever you explore each room and hallway. With that said, levels can begin to lose some of their appeals after a while since they can begin to look similar to each other. For example, one floor has you explore a hallway, which separates into several different directions. The next floor looks almost the same as the place you’ve already searched, only there are considerably fewer rooms. With this, as well as the game’s short length, the sense of repetition can begin to settle in more quickly than expected, especially when you play it a second time.

Besides its short length, gameplay can occasionally feel inconsistent. Despite it being easy to get seen, it isn’t much harder to avoid detection while hiding. The moment you reach a hiding spot, the toys can instantly lose sight of you. It does a bit of a disservice to otherwise thrilling encounters since they can end abruptly. Another minor shortcoming comes from skills provided individually throughout the game. In each level, the player is given an ability suited to exploiting each monster’s limitations. This may include jumping on top of small structures to avoid getting caught from the ground or holding your breath to prevent them from hearing you. While these abilities can be useful and provide some intense moments, the problem is that each of them feels underutilised and are taken away from you after you reach the next level. Because of this, the final level doesn’t make you feel like you are putting all of your skills to the test. This also makes the last level feel more like the levels before it than an actual finale.

Despite these minor gripes, exploring the house is still very fun and trying to survive against these disturbing toys that dwell there provides an especially haunting feeling. The claustrophobic atmosphere of the house is traumatising and does an excellent job of keeping players on their toes throughout. But it’s hard not to wish that it would provide more areas to explore and a larger variety of tasks and environments to go with them.  Coven Games has produced a solid survival horror experience that is sure to please those who are tired of explosions in horror games and who are looking for a more subdued approach to gameplay. But they need to do much more to truly stand out amongst the crowd.

REVIEW CODE: A complimentary PC code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to editor@bonusstage.co.uk.

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