Witchinour (PC) Review

By Gabriel Jones 26.06.2017

Review for Witchinour on PC

Nour has a problem. She's a witch trainee who lost her spell book. It's not under a couch cushion, nor was it thrown out with yesterday's garbage. Instead, it's gathering dust in the deepest bowels of the most diabolical dungeon. In the wrong hands, this book could very well destroy the world, or turn all of the beans into peas; we're not quite sure which. In any case, the tome must be found, even if Nour has to die a thousand times over.

The biggest problem with Witchinour is that it's too hard. Usually, a statement such as this would require the reviewer to present innumerable qualifications. After all, it's normal for a videogame critic to not be very good at videogames. However, here is a different argument. What makes a game difficult isn't always a matter of how much is happening on-screen. A lot of the time, it all comes down to numbers. Numbers that are either too high or too low can drastically shift the difficulty of a game, and the results tend to be disastrous.

This game is a twin-stick shooter, so it's acceptable that the screen will be filled with danger. Furthermore, it's a rogue-like, so all deaths are permanent. The enemy forces are overwhelming, and their bullets even more so, but it's not quite enough to push the difficulty over the edge. However, whenever Nour is hit, she doesn't receive a brief period of invulnerability. On average, she only has three hit points, so a barrage of firepower or an axe-wielding berserker, is enough to seal her fate. In the face of tremendous odds, a brief respite after taking damage is considered fair. It gives the player a chance to reassess their current situation. Either they adapt and become stronger, or they panic and fail. In this game, that chance is never presented.

Nour is all-around an awful witch. She's capable at running and shooting, but so is any commando with an unlimited supply of ammunition. Her spells are supposed to set her apart, but they're all useless. The witch has a very tiny pool of MP to work with, so it stands to reason that her magic spells would be that much more effective. Instead, they're almost trivial. For example, one of her spells slows down enemy bullets, but it lasts for just a few seconds. If anything, the player will be unable to adjust to bullets resuming their normal speeds, and then they'll take damage. Magic bombs are so weak they can't even destroy regular foes.

Screenshot for Witchinour on PC

The witch also has a fair number of outfits to choose from, which are unlocked through continuous play. For the most part, her attire is just as worthless as her magic. The cyberpunk suit grants Nour the ability to shoot through walls. The effect lasts for a couple seconds, which is enough to destroy one or two enemies, if she's lucky. The sheriff chaps provide a shiny star to flash at enemies, which apparently dissuades them from firing at her. The effects are so short lived and circumstantial that they're not worth bothering with. The best outfit by far is the feral armour. It allows the heroine to take one additional point of damage. More importantly, she can replenish HP by drinking the enemy's blood off of the ground.

With the feral armour, the difficulty of the game becomes wildly uneven. Since it's easy to rack up a large body count in each stage, there are plenty of opportunities to recover health. The boss battles are still immensely frustrating. Sure, they throw around a lot bullets, but that's to be expected. What make them infuriating are their random movement patterns. At any moment, they can decide to bum rush the player, crushing them. Everything moves a little too quickly, leaving very little time to react. In rogue-likes, the bosses tend to be balanced, so that they don't immediately wipe the player out. After all, there aren't any continues, and it could be a long time before they get another chance at the boss that just defeated them. Witchinour doesn't adhere by this standard. Instead, the player will reach a boss, get absolutely demolished, and then they'll repeat the incredibly boring early portions. There's far too much downtime in-between the actual challenge.

When a game is hard just for the sake of it, then that just makes it poor. The player should always have something to work towards, they should never have to feel like they're head-butting a brick wall, just to obtain an inch of progress. 2D shoot 'em ups are extremely tough, but the player has agency beyond trying to beat a difficult stage. When they replay the game, they can use the easier stages to practice scoring techniques, or refrain from limited use items, such as bullet-clearing bombs. This twin-stick shooter doesn't have anything of the sort. There's little if anything one can do to prepare themselves for the boss that's giving them trouble. The scoring system isn't creative, nor are there a variety of builds that make every attempt fresh and interesting. All that's there is mind-numbing tedium.

Screenshot for Witchinour on PC

Cubed3 Rating

3/10
Rated 3 out of 10

Bad

Witchinour isn't worth the hassle. While it does have a firm grasp of the basic essentials, it's difficult in all of the wrong ways. The stages are boring, the bosses are insufferable, and the spells are woefully inadequate. Even in games where the learning curve is akin to a steep cliff wall, there's at least something the player can do to make it palatable. That simply isn't the case here. Fans of shooters beware; nothing but misery awaits.

Developer

Sofuto Geimu

Publisher

Sofuto Geimu

Genre

Action

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  3/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date None   Australian release date Out now   

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