Blair Witch (Nintendo Switch) Review

By Albert Lichi 25.09.2020

Review for Blair Witch on Nintendo Switch

In 1994, Heather Donahue, Mike Williams and Joshua Leonard were three student filmmakers who got lost in the woods near Burkittsville, Maryland. They were never seen or heard from ever again, but their footage was discovered and edited into the documentary The Blair Witch Project; released in 1999. There was a lot of speculation about the disappearance of the students and how it possibly connected with the local legend of the Blair Witch, or possibly met an end by serial killer; Rustin Parr. The mysteries in the forest of Black Hills vexes everyone, and now it's possible to investigate the enigmatic woods anywhere on the Nintendo Switch. Bloober Team having a decent track record with the genre, prepares gamers to re-open the case, with Blair Witch.

The Black Hills forest has claimed yet another soul. Peter was a simple little boy, and is now missing. A search party has been set out to find him, and among the searchers is Ellis, a man broken beyond repair. With the aid of Bullet, their goal is to find Peter and discover what happened to him. This is Burkittsville, so it is not likely the boy met a peaceful end considering the local legend has a pattern of making people vanish from the face of the earth.

Now, Blair Witch is something that has potential, but fails to realise them due to technical limitations of Nintendo Switch specs. Perhaps it is not an issue on other platforms, but Blair Witch's first impressions are woefully marred due to extremely aggressive pop-in. This is the first thing anyone will notice the moment this begins, and it is incessant through-out the entire day-time portions of the experience.

Screenshot for Blair Witch on Nintendo Switch

There are two phases that play out in Blair Witch. Day-time is when things are generally safe, where Ellis and his trusty dog, Bullet, will be solving some puzzles and exploring an extremely rough looking forest. The times of day are scripted to change at certain points in the story, and when it becomes night, things gets hostile and the darkness shrouds the laughable constant LOD pop-in. If there was any excuse for a horror game to be a walking-sim, it would have been Blair Witch. Shockingly, this is not the case, since there are actual monsters lurking, and feel completely out of place in a video game that is a tie-in to the Blair Witch license.

The Blair Witch Project was a film that preyed on imagination. This was something the entire movie leaned on, since it was made on a dime, and it was effective at it by being restrained. Sticking monsters in this is the antithesis of what the film was, and what it was about. Blair Witch becomes a more generic horror game by relying on standard trappings that people would expect, but it does try to do things differently by also forcing the player to rely on Ellis' service dog.

Ellis has a gnarly case of PTSD, and he is barely functional due to the trauma he experienced serving in the Gulf War, and has been given Bullet to help him cope with his affliction. Bullet proves to be a good boy, by not only keeping Ellis' stress levels down, but also being his only hope at finding any clues that may help him find a lead on the missing boy's whereabouts. This is used effectively, since Blair Witch is set in a space-breaking forest, where it is meant for travellers to get lost and to go in circles. Bullet is seemingly able to see through the trickery of the woods that would doom Ellis to wander, until he would die of exposure.

Screenshot for Blair Witch on Nintendo Switch

Relying on a dog to survive in a haunted forest is a novel, and creative concept that is substantially explored in Blair Witch. Ellis is able to rely on him to find clues and have him track the scent of objects for leads... when it works. Blair Witch is not as polished as it could be, leading to some frustrating bugs where Bullet will seemingly stop doing anything, and will be content to wait for his body to die. Even if players know what and where to go, Ellis won't last without his dog since the forest's script is tied to if the player is with Bullet or not, leading users to be perpetually stuck in an infinite loop until they reload a checkpoint.

These kinds of game-breaking glitches would be understandable if the product was made by amateurs, and this was their beta build. Blair Witch is made by a team with a few titles under their belt, and has backing of a well-known brand; it shouldn't have frequent issues. It's is under 10 hours, and during that time it was common to encounter a few moments that required a reload. Statistically, users are very likely going to experience a game-breaking bug during their time playing Blair Witch.

Screenshot for Blair Witch on Nintendo Switch

Dealing with monsters in Blair Witch is a simple matter of staying close to Bullet and keeping Ellis' flashlight aimed at whatever is trying to kill him. Whatever is illuminated, Bullet will live up to his name and dart at it, fangs first. It's a functional system that feels out of place in something based on The Blair Witch Project. There should have been a similar mechanic used in Amnesia: The Dark Descent, where players are not meant to look at the threat, or else it would kill them.

The stick effigies do play a vital role in Blair Witch, where they are extremely distressing to poor Bullet. Naturally, players will want to destroy these since nobody wants to see their dog suffer. The only issue is that destroying the effigies leads to a really bad ending. Compounded with other very specific choices that are not at all obvious without a guide, getting the path to the good ending is very cryptic. It is impressive that Bloober Team managed to have multiple endings in an age when so many developers drop the ball entirely when it comes to satisfying conclusions.

Other than the technical... SNAFs, and the horrendous visuals during the day-time, Blair Witch comes off as a generic horror game that ends up taking from Silent Hill 2. The inventive use of the camcorder is the most original idea that is brought to the genre; rewinding footage and pausing it at certain points alters the surrounding in space-bending ways. Many environmental puzzles are solved this way, and it does seem like something that would exist in the universe of The Blair Witch Project.

Screenshot for Blair Witch on Nintendo Switch

Cubed3 Rating

4/10
Rated 4 out of 10

Subpar

Blair Witch is probably best played on other platforms, where the pop-in is not so atrocious, and where the game won't break. The atmosphere during the day time is diminished thanks to the low level detail that generates only a couple of meters away. These glaring flaws hurt Blair Witch from becoming immersive, and the obtuse path to the good ending won't be figured out without a guide. There is potential here, since the foundation is solid, but this version is not easily recommended.

Developer

Bloober Team SA

Publisher

Bloober Team SA

Genre

Action Adventure

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  4/10

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    Also on Also on Nintendo eShop

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