Quite easily, the greatest developer name ever, Super Awesome Hyper Dimensional Mega Team and publisher Team 17 have a new game out. The Knight Witch is a mix of multiple genres that all look and feel very familiar. But, the big question is, is it a good mix carefully blended to give you a great gameplay experience. Or, is it a bloated and confusing mess that’ll leave you confused and frustrated? Either way, that’s still an amazing name for a dev team.
“The Knight Witch is a metroidvania adventure game with fast-paced, shoot ’em up combat set in a beautifully hand-drawn world. Cast devastating card-based spells, forge close bonds, and make moral choices all in your quest to save your home and discover who’s behind the War Golem invasion.”
Playing as Rayne, The Knight Witch, you have to defend the realm of Dungeonidas against an invasion of War Golems. It’s a bare basic good vs evil story that is really there as set dressing over a deep narrative. Still, the story is told well enough and does help to keep you interested as you play. Visually, this game is beautiful. I do have a soft spot for wonderful animation and hand-drawn art. The Knight Witch has both of those in spades. This game is a looker.
Then there’s the most important part, the gameplay. As the little blurb up there pointed out, this is a Metroidvania-style title. You know the score by now. large maps with multiple routes, unlock weapons and items that will allow you access to previously inaccessible areas. Lots of exploring, backtracking, enemies and bosses to defeat, etc. Wrapped up in that Metroidvania gameplay is so much more. There’s some deck building, which is basically your magic spells. Throw in a bit of a bullet hell title and a twist of a twin-stick shooter too.
The Knight Witch starts out as a very promising title with a lot to offer. But, by the time I got a couple of hours in, the flaws began to appear. One of the main flaws is that it the game is just too damn difficult. Now, don’t get me wrong, I do like a tricky challenge now and again. Just sticking with the sub-genre of the Metroidvania for a second. I adored the Hollow Knight games, bloody hard but really playable. The Knight Witch is too difficult and doesn’t really have the gameplay to back up that difficulty, to the point where the game is just a massive frustration before too long. I’ve not checked yet, but I’m willing to bet that several other reviews will mention the submarine bit. Honestly, this is where I gave up and quit playing. I’m not going to detail why (as I say, I bet that other reviews will already do this) but this part of the game is stupidly and unnecessarily hard.
Some of the difficulty of The Knight Witch comes from the awkwardness of the controls. Because this is a twin-stick shooter, your thumb is constantly on the right stick to aim. But, you also have to press the face buttons to use your spells. This means that you have to take your thumb off the stick to use one of your spells. Adding on to the spell casting, you’ll eventually have dozens of them to choose from via your deck building. Nowt wrong with that and you can only select several of them to be used during the action. However, only three of those can be used when equipped at any one time. This means that your spells are randomly selected and changed as you play. So, you have to keep looking down at the bottom right corner to see which spell is assigned to which button. Oh yeah, you can’t assign the spell to the buttons yourself, it’s completely random.
Use a spell and it will be randomly changed with another spell. You’ll have to keep directing your eyes to the spells at the bottom of the screen, taking your eyes off the action as you try to keep track of which button casts which random spell. This leads to many a death when the screen is full of enemies and bullets. You should be allowed to bind whatever spell you want to whatever button you want. That way, you’ll always know which button does what. This random thing just makes an already hard game even harder for no reason.
Coming with a £16 price tag and is available now on PC and all of the consoles. The Knight Witch is trying to mix too many things and never really doing any of them well. If this was a Metroidvania and bullet hell game, fine. Or, if this was a deck building and twin-stick shooter, fine. But the fact that it is trying to be all four and never excels, it’s trying to be a Jack of all trades while becoming a master of none. Honestly, The Knight Witch is far from being a bad game. At times, it’s very playable and enjoyable. Unfortunately, it is let down by some strange design choices, awkward controls and difficulty spikes that often feel extremely unfair. There’s just too much going on and what you get is a very uneven title that doesn’t seem to know what it wants to be. Still, that £16 price tag is pretty good though and this is worth a play.