|Console||Nintendo 3DS, PC (Steam)|
|Developer||Flyhigh Works, FK Digital|
|Publisher||Flyhigh Works, CIRCLE Entertainment|
|Genre||Action RPG, Indie|
|Purchase (3DS)||Must be purchased from Nintendo eShop app.|
|Purchase (PC)||Click here to purchase from Steam.|
You know, people, I love finding good indie games and underrated titles of the past. It’s sort of like hunting for buried treasure full of gemstones of all colors: the rubies, the sapphires, the emeralds, the garnets, the amethysts, and so on.
But every once in a while, you also find a gemstone that is comparatively shabby in appearance. It’s still a small gemstone but just not a very polished one.
And for me, this is where a game like Witch and Hero falls under.
Witch and Hero is a small indie title that you might randomly find on the Nintendo 3DS eShop. It has that retro look to it, giving you the impression that it may play like one.
For its price and simplicity, it’s not bad. But when it comes down to it, the game leans closer to being a small time sink than a fully realized game.
The game start off with a short story told in slides, like it’s a Powerpoint presentation. You have an unnamed hero and a witch, who fight against Medusa (just cuz). However, they end up getting curbstomped. To further add insult to injury, Medusa turns the witch into a statue. So now, it’s up to the hero to slay Medusa while finding a way to turn his partner back to normal.
So then, we get to the actual gameplay.
You play as the hero on a plain map with an overhead view, sort of like how The Legend of Zelda games do it. While the hero’s movement is smooth, he moves very slow. At the center of the map is the statue of the witch. Your objective for each map is to defeat the bosses(es) while keeping the witch alive. It’s sort of like playing Tower Defense, except you have only one tower that can move around the map.
Enemies start coming in and home in on the witch’s location. You can move the hero to collide with them to do damage. That’s it. You don’t even have to press a button to swing a sword or something.
However, each of your attacks will cause your hero to lose HP as well. When his HP reaches 0, he gets knocked out and slowly recovers HP over time. When the HP meter is full again, he’s back in action.
When you kill monsters, you can collect experience points and money. Sometimes, they also drop chests that can be broken to give you either more experience, money or a health potion.
It’s really a no-brainer. You spend the 20 levels in this game mindlessly butting against the monsters.
The boss of each map is usually a larger variation of the generic enemies, who move slowly, can take a lot of damage, and have a boss theme playing.
You can do more damage to the monsters by attacking them from the back. This is somewhat effective in conserving your HP and killing monsters faster, though you still have to worry about overwhelming odds.
Don’t you love these kinds of situations?
At the end of each level, you gain experience points and money (whether you beat the map or not). The experience points will only improve your HP but you can spend the money in upgrading your attack power, defense, walking speed, and the witch’s two spells.
Ah yes, I can imagine the conversations now.
Shopkeeper: Welcome back, sir! What can I get—?
Hero: A better shield, okay?! That last one you gave me sucked.
Shopkeeper: …Well, um, I’m sorry to hea—
Hero: Oh, and for the record… I got Zerg-rushed by sharks and scorpions today. Five times in a row. I swear, if I don’t get past the next chapter, I’m going to shove this shield right up your ass.
Pain and hurt.
Eventually, you can collect monster blood and deliver them to the statue of the witch. By filling up her blood meter, you can summon her for a short time and she will either cast wind or fire magic to help deal with the enemies.
However, fire magic sucks in this game. It can only attack in one direction and you have to manually control the direction the witch is facing to make it effective. Don’t bother with it. You’re better off sticking to wind magic, which hits more enemies and doesn’t need you to direct the witch.
Later on, the hero acquires a legendary sword that gives him yet another meter to fill up. When the meter is full, he will go Super Saiyan and the witch will use advanced magic. It becomes utter chaos. This is a useful ability to allow the hero to quickly recover as he’s knocked out.
YEAH! I AM THE WRECKER OF YOUR SHIT!
As you get into the flow, you will eventually recognize the game’s flaws.
For one thing, it’s repetitive. Every single map, including the ones that vary in terrain, are basically giant empty spaces to wander in. There are no obstacles whatsoever and all terrains function the same.
While most maps are rather easy, some figuratively turn into a steep valley to climb out of in which you have to spend a lot of time grinding for levels—stage 8 being a good example, with its numerous sharks and green scorpions. It then falls into one routine:
- Wait for enemies to enter the map.
- Butt heads with the enemies.
- Fall down.
- Anxiously watch as more and more enemies converge on the witch.
- Get back up and protect the witch.
- Collect enough monster blood to summon the witch’s power.
- Fight more enemies and fall down again.
- Fill your sword meter up to use the super attack.
- Watch more enemies spawn while some are attacking the witch.
- Boss shows up with a shitload of enemies.
- Go back to taking down the smaller enemies to prevent the witch from getting attacked, while the boss slowly creeps up towards her.
- You fall down again as the screen gets more and more chaotic, then you watch the monsters break the statue.
- Growl to yourself while you watch the results screen, giving you only half of the experience and money you collected.
- Spend more money in leveling up your stats and try again.
- Repeat Steps 1 – 12, because that one particular map is bullshit.
There isn’t much else beyond what you see here. There is no variety to the maps themselves and each enemy differs only in HP, attack power, and moving speed. Like you, their only attack is a small collision. Some sprites are just recolors of older monsters and these designs tend to get recycled quite often.
Another common flaw is the clunky hit detection. Whenever you collide with monsters, both you and the monster get shoved back. While this is okay, some levels are designed to have enemies swarm all over you—again, freakin’ stage 8. Because there are so many enemies on the screen—all of which who don’t die easily—, you’re going to find yourself getting tossed around like a rag doll until you eventually collapse. These maps in particular are frustrating because you’re going to find yourself restricted to one spot—whether you like it or not—and you will collapse quickly where there are still a myriad of enemies attacking the witch statue.
The same can be said for the treasure chests, which require a few hits to be broken open. However, you seem to get shoved back even farther from just hitting the chests than attacking the monsters. Sometimes, attacking a treasure chest will suddenly shove you to the opposite side of the map, which is very jarring to say the least. I don’t know if that was an intentional game mechanic or some weird glitch.
So yeah, 20 chapters of the same stuff over and over. I wouldn’t mind so much except that the Nintendo 3DS has much better games for around the same price. This game in particular feels like it’s passable for a mobile game due to its simplistic controls and gameplay. As a N3DS game though, there certainly could’ve been more effort.
After all that, you finally confront Medusa. The first phase of the battle against her isn’t difficult as she’s just like most other bosses in the game, but the second phase is where the real shit begins.
ALL OF MY HATE!
This battle is different from the rest of the game, because the witch isn’t assisting you and you only run on one HP bar this time. If you collapse even once during this battle, the game is over.
This boss is surprisingly difficult too, even when you max out your stats. Her attacks are hard to avoid, which get especially insane when she starts shooting these lime-flavored Mike and Ike candies that bounce on the edges of the screen. That very last part of this boss is nearly impossible to clear because there are so many lasers on screen that it’s sort of like dodging rain. Combined with the wonky hit detection with no invincibility frames, you’re going to die really fast.
But no, I’m a dumbshit. It turns out that in order to win this battle without too much trouble, you have to control the direction in which Medusa’s eye faces—exactly how you control the witch in this game. That way, you can throw off her aim and have the magic attacks miss you.
So with the power of the L and R buttons, you beat Medusa, the witch returns to her former self, and we get a happy ending.
While this game isn’t really bad, it’s not particularly worthwhile and comes across as rather dull. I guess it’s to be expected considering I spent only $3-4 on this game. But had it gone the extra mile and added more variety into its gameplay while fixing the awkward hit detection, I would probably pay more for it.
Furthermore, the game’s difficulty seems to vary widely between levels. You’ll suddenly find a tough level swarming with enemies, but you can’t get past it no matter how much you try to plan things out or try to get more skilled. Your best course of action at that point is to grind for experience and money so that you can get better upgrades.
With that said, I wouldn’t exactly call it a fun game. It’s more tedious than fun, though it is mostly functional. With superior small gems such as the Gunman Clive series, you’re better off passing over this one.
Witch and Hero$3.99
- The latter half of the game is more fun due to having more accessible powerups and chaotic stages.
- The minimalist 8-bit graphics are somewhat appealing.
- Lack of gameplay variety throughout stages.
- Repetitive gameplay overall, basically turning into a routine of headbutting for each stage. It's as mindless as a game could get.
- Odd hit detection that sometimes tosses the hero around like a spontaneous game of pinball.
- The final boss of the game isn't particularly well designed and relies on a secondary control scheme in order to win.