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Developer and Publisher Cardboard Keep summon their 2018 indie title Witch Thief to take its place on the Nintendo eShop. You play as the titular character who must float around a series of 3D environments defeating a whole host of evil witches while collecting gems in a quest to steal the greatest treasure of all time, the legendary Grimoire.
Witch Thief is an intriguing mix of dungeon crawling and traditional shmup action set against a 3rd person viewpoint. There are two game modes from the off, one is story based and the second a dungeon mode. You control a witch and float around the screen, it’s in keeping with the context but feels a little cheap on the animation side of things. The aim is to collect as many items as possible and defeat all the enemies that you encounter, it’s fairly standard stuff. There are short text narratives spliced in along the way and when fighting a boss but really, who cares as it’s all about the action. Each play is ranked and a score given.
The right stick can be used to spin the camera and its pitch but often feels clunky, too many times it was slow or ended up getting in the way leading to death. And that’s another good point, magical projectiles head in thick and fast in this take on bullet hell action but with poor collision detection, it was particularly hard to time the dodge mechanic perfectly. You really need everything to be spot on with the barrage of neon coloured lollypop spells that get chucked at you. There’s a fair amount of strategy required to master Witch Thief but only if you can get past its shortcomings.
The dungeon mode suffered from framerate issues when the action intensified which didn’t help one bit. It was surprising as visually the game isn’t anything special, the environments are pretty bland and uninspiring awash with dingy textures married against in your face psychedelic projectiles. The plus point is that up close the character models are passable in design, almost Kiki-like just lacking that Ghibli polish and charm. The difficulty can be adjusted to the easiest ‘chill’ setting for a more relaxed and enjoyable experience. It helps as one hit kills become infuriating. There are different weapons to collect and unlock which add variety to the gameplay as do the additional witch characters that are made available. The game’s soundtrack is potentially one of its better points but marred by the god awful sound effect used when firing, it was like a hell hound humping your leg non-stop.
The game comes with a disclaimer: bright colours, flashing lights, camera shake, and a note to reach out if you feel that anything else needs to be added. Well, here’s our disclaimer…
Witch Thief is an accurate title. The gameplay and story centre around a witch and by the end you feel as if something has been stolen from you… namely your time and money. It is a brave concept mixing the gameplay elements that ultimately fell a little flat, with updates and quality of life improvements, especially in the control and collision detection departments, Witch Thief might see a new lease of life. Sadly as it stands there’s not enough good to be able to recommend with any degree of integrity.
TBG Score: 4/10
Platform: Steam, Nintendo Switch
Release Date: 19/04/2019
No. of Players: 1
Category: Adventure, Shooter, Action, Arcade
Publisher: Cardboard Keep
Download link: eShop