Witch Thief (Nintendo Switch) Review

By Albert Lichi 02.06.2019

Review for Witch Thief on Nintendo Switch

What a time to be alive when Touhou games can be bought in various retail stores across the globe. As with any big success, imitators will follow, and Witch Thief tries to carve itself in a similar vein as ZUN's creation. What can be expected from this twitchy-witchy, cutey-shooty? Don't bother checking your audio levels, Witch Thief is above auditory feedback.

Witch Thief had a good idea. Too bad ideas are cheap; everyone and their grandmother has a "good idea." The concept on paper should be appealing: bullet-hell shoot 'em up with a variable camera that the player can control. The prospect makes the imagination conjure up those sweet shooter sequences of Nier: Automata... too bad this is the most positive aspect of Witch Thief; the good feelings from imagining something from another title. The camera system here is a liability and actually turns this foray into a half-baked third-person shooter that is way too sensitive when the POV is positioned behind this dime-store knock-off of Marisa Kirisame. Just moving around makes the view move on its own which does not work at all since users are also expected to dodge hundreds, if not thousands of incoming projectiles which basically means having a bad time and having to endure some legendary long loading screens.

One of the cornerstones of Touhou is its cast of cute babes. Nobody in Witch Thief is cute due to how awkward each character model is rendered. They resemble those really uncanny anime girl masks if they were crafted by nineteenth century Russian bootleggers, who only have an understanding of anime art style by way of DeviantArt, but filtered through murky vodka. The environments are passable at best, and are saved by the fact that the best aspects are repeated constantly. Effects are the typical stock flares and flashes seen in indie games made on this scope which get the job done but fail to impress. This is one aspect that is especially undone by the fact that there are almost no sound effects at all when getting into a heated fire fight.

Screenshot for Witch Thief on Nintendo Switch

Yes, that is correct. The sound design in Witch Thief is hopelessly barren and proves how important auditory feedback is to the game design process. Shooting is likely the very first thing anyone will do in a shoot 'em up. Naturally it is very off putting that shooting would yield no sound at all, and in a title like this where shooting is something people will find themselves doing almost constantly, it might be assumed that the developer worried that the constant sound of fire might be annoying. The onus is on the designer to find or create sound effects that can be heard long term that feels satisfying to hear, and have some equally gratifying Foley that gives feedback for when targets get shot. It is as basic as the sound of Mario jumping in his original game, and the same applies to the sound of him stomping on a Goomba. These things are so important in a shooter, and Witch Thief tragically washes its hands of taking any responsibly in one of its most important pillars.

It is very hard to find anything redeeming in Witch Thief. Controls and basic actions are poorly thought out, and rarely does anything feel natural or intuitive. Some bullet hell shooters might have a feature that lets the player character reduce its hitbox and increase movement speed in exchange of not being able to fire. This sort of ability is present in Witch Thief as well, but the mind is boggled by how its implemented. Instinctively, this sort of move is mapped to a button where the user can stay in this small mode until they release said button. While playing this, pressing the button once will force players to stay in this small mode for a set period of time. This is extremely limiting and is counter-intuitive for a shooter, yet poor souls are expected to enjoy themselves with this frustrating system.

Screenshot for Witch Thief on Nintendo Switch

Cubed3 Rating

Rated 2 out of 10

Very Bad

Witch Thief is the worst shoot 'em up this critic has ever played. It is barren of redemption, and is an unsightly blight on the Nintendo eShop. The outrageously long load times should be taken as a warning for anyone who wants to give it a chance, and hope there is some light at the end of the tunnel. There are so many quality bullet-hell titles available on Switch these days, courtesy of Arcade Archives, that nobody should need to be tormented with this one.


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C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  2/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   


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