To me, Witchfire is as if someone combined the FPS action of DOOM and the mechanics of Dark Souls and packaged it in an interesting setting that feels distinct. The game combines a dark atmosphere with frustrating, yet adrenaline-pumping, shootouts against hordes of enemies in which death is only ever a few hits away. It is a fast-paced battle against a seemingly, ever-evolving enemy that looks to punish you for missteps and take advantage of your losses.
Go Forth Preyer
Witchfire, developed by The Astronauts, is out now on the Epic Games Store. It invites players to step into a dark fantasy world and put their survival and shooting skills to the test. Interestingly, players play as a Witch hunter, known as a Preyer, in service to the Pope. Of course, as a Preyer, players will embark on a quest to cleanse the land of a Witch’s evil presence by killing her familiars. Perhaps one of the first things you’ll notice, making your way through the tutorial, is the ambiance of the game. It feels dark, the sun seems constantly covered by clouds, and the world is washed out in, what feels like, a blanket of grey. Importantly, this aesthetic choice fits perfectly with what awaits players as they embark on expeditions to the mainland.
In fact, the entire gameplay loop revolves around expeditions. Of course, the safety of the Preyer’s castle is nice. However, all of the action awaits when players arrive at one of multiple locations in ruins from the power of the Witch. Importantly, players begin the game with just their revolver. Yet, the gun works well enough for dispatching the Witch’s minions. Here, it’s easy to fall in love with the basic gameplay mechanics. For instance, checking the map, locating the next dangerous horde, and battling them.
Of course, once combat begins it becomes a hectic combination of dodging and retaliation. Thanks to the fantasy setting, the game throws a variety of enemies at the Witch hunter. For instance, players can expect to face off against undead archers, swordsmen, musketmen, and more, each with their own unique attacks. Additionally, each enemy proves to be a challenge, especially as one works to kill them to unlock new gear, collecting witchfire in a soulslike fashion. The fact that dying meant losing my hard-earned witchfire made the battles that much more intense. Yet, death isn’t the only trick the Witch has up her sleeve.
One of the more interesting things about Witchfire is that the evil never rests. The game does an excellent job of making you feel like you’re facing an all-knowing evil. For instance, if you feel like you are outmatched, and need to escape, there will be consequences. In fact, the game does an excellent job of building tension around your every move. For example, you return to an expedition after escaping, and the enemies have changed, the chests you memorized are in a different area, and there are new traps waiting.
Or worse, you run out of ammo, and suddenly you are under attack from all sides, a message reads: “You’re out of bullets and she knows it.” It’s intense. Obviously, the game requires a lot of trial and error. This is where the fun lies. Unlocking new weapons, fighting new bosses, and sometimes making a mad dash for your fallen witchfire, are all sweat-inducing.
Additionally, the changes to expeditions, in-expedition upgrades, arsenal of weapons, and character upgrades, all make each run feel different. Furthermore, the feeling that the evil you fight grows alongside you works to benefit the overall experience. It adds to the ambiance and truly makes you feel like you are progressing, even when you’re getting your ass kicked.
A Challenging Profession
Becoming a Witch hunter isn’t easy. In reality, everything out in the world wants you dead. As such, Witchfire is a challenging game. It has the movement and gunplay for those who are looking for an FPS, with all of the excitement and versatility one expects from a roguelite. It provides a steep learning curve with a lot to learn mechanically. For those who want a genre-bending experience that is sure to challenge them, Witchfire will have the firepower to hold your attention.
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