Indie gaming loves to revisit classic styles and follow the retro gaming trend. Luckily, old school gaming is all the rage at the moment, and even the new generation of gamers can find something they will like in these short sharp adventures. Platform titles appear to be rolling out to the market at an unbelievable rate, and my latest review title Sweet Witches slips into the digital stores hoping to stand out from the crowd. Developed by LumenSection and published by Drageus Games, this fast-paced colourful title aims to lead the pack, and be the go-to game this Halloween.
So, what does this title do that others don’t? Not a lot really, it’s a run-of-the-mill affair. It uses all the classic mechanics found in early platform games, but they are all rolled into one glorious spooky, sweet ridden theme. You control witches; Vanille and Praline, who are on a quest to claim their sweets from the games two antagonists Anis and Reglisse. You must explore 50+ levels across 5 different worlds. Your aim? Grow all the flowers on the stage, while avoiding the obstacles, and taking down the enemies you face.
This may sound like a simple title that offers little challenge, but don’t be fooled. Its straightforward gaming concept will lead you into a false sense of security. Given only 5 lives to survive each world, you’ll soon discover that these deceivingly easy looking stages will take your hearts, chew you up, and spit you out. A single touch by any of your foes, and they will reduce your health. If this happens 6 times, then it’s game over, and you must start the world again. It’s a brilliantly frustrating affair that screams 80s platformer. It drives you to try it one my time, while making you yell in rage.
This isn’t just all about running around growing flowers and completing levels. Like all great witches, you can use some magic to help you on your way. The spells speed things up, but they don’t come without their fair share of risks. Plan before using this special power, you don’t want to waste it, or leave yourself in a precarious position. As with all classic platform titles, power-ups are a must. Each stage has a Mario-esque ? Box to collect. This will give you an array of tools to be used whenever you wish. They are a one-use item, so be sensible. Remember the classic Spider-Man saying “With great power, comes great responsibility!” If you don’t use it wisely, it could be the difference between success and failure.
As you progress, you note that new weird and wonderful creatures are added to the mix. Each has their form of attack, and some cannot be killed. Stunning these monsters will be the best that you can achieve, and while they come around, you must escape and hope that they don’t follow you. Traversing each level is aided by the use of a magical ladder. This is where the game has an edge over some of its competitors, as this tool adds an element of tactics to the gameplay. You can use the ladder to evade the opposition, but you can also entice them to climb it, just to make it disappear at the last minute. They will fall to the ground, and this gives you a few precious seconds to increase the gap between yourself and them.
The main story comprises several modes, each can be played solo, or with another player cooperatively. If you attempt the latter, you will increase the pace that you can grow all the flowers, but you must know you will run through your health at a lot higher rate. If you take on the standard mode, you will have to roll with the punches, and hope to get to grips with the game mechanics quickly. If you do struggle, you can use the custom menu. This enables you to slow your enemies down, and you can start with many more lives. This may be a good starting place for new players to the genre, though I would recommend that you see how you get on. When I reduced the difficulty, I found it was far too easy, and I flew through the levels. The final mode is disgustingly hard. A speedrun session that allows no continues. You cannot fail, and you cannot lose all your lives. If you do, its permadeath feature will force you to start from the first level, and all your progress will be wiped.
Like all great retro titles, this one is colourful and vivid. Its cutesy art style reminded me of a children’s cartoon program. The character models were well designed and easy to identify. The stages all worked from a fixed screen perspective, and it was clear how you could navigate each of the platforms. I liked the unique nature of each of the worlds. The variety of backdrops made this fun to look at, and interesting throughout. The graphics are good, but not outstanding. It sits just above what I would expect from an indie title and contained no issues.
The audio was key to keeping the gameplay fresh. As the landscapes changed, so did the music. Each stage had an upbeat tempo that had an underlying spooky twang. This incorporated the Halloween idea and kept it in line with its haunting theme. I liked the sound in this title. It reminded me of gaming in my youth, and suited the platform genre perfectly.
With several spells to cast, fast monsters to evade, and power-ups to use, you may be worried that the controls are complicated. I know I was, but luckily, it’s easy to learn the basics, even if it’s tough to master them. The difficulty in this title comes from the gameplay, rather than all the bits that make it up.
I’m usually sceptical with platform titles and their replay value. It’s rare that I’ll play one that draws me back in to keep playing. Sweet Witches is different, with several game modes, single or cooperative play, and a hearty achievement list. This will keep you coming back for more.
This game doesn’t reinvent the wheel. It won’t wow you with new concepts, and exceptional graphics, or sounds. But what it delivers is a fun, fast-paced, challenging experience that will keep you coming back for more. I loved its nod to old school gaming, and all the frustrating action that brings to the table. Do I recommend it? Absolutely! Fans of platform games will be comfortable with its content, and new gamers to the genre will find a colourful adventure that they can share with friends. It’s time to choose your witch and go on a journey to reclaim your sweets.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Microsoft Xbox One code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Sweet Witches Review
Gameplay - 7/10
Graphics - 6/10
Sound - 6/10
Replay Value - 8/10
User Review( votes)
An old school platform adventure that doesn’t reinvent the wheel. It’s a colourful, fast-paced journey that you can enjoy with friends.
- Classic old school gameplay.
- Colourful and cute graphics.
- A variety of songs keeps the action fresh.
- Plenty of replay value.
- It doesn’t reinvent the wheel.
- The game difficulty may be too tough for some.