LadiesGamers Knight Witch

The Knight Witch Review 

Game: The Knight Witch
Genre: Action, Adventure
System: Steam (Windows & Linux) (Also on Nintendo Switch, Xbox and PS4)
Developer|Publisher: Super Awesome Hyper Dimensional Mega Team | Team17
Controller Support: Yes
Price: UK £15.99 | US $19.99 | € 19,99
Release Date: November 29th, 2022

Review code provided with many thanks to Press Engine. 

A Spin on the Familiar

The 2D adventure game genre (or Metroidvania as the cool kids call it) has received plenty of love this year alone. Making it bloated and many of the games blending together with the familiar formula of exploring a large map whilst unlocking powers along the way. You know what else I’ve seen a lot this year? Games with a witch protagonist, clearly 2022 is the year of the witch.

But a developer with the lengthy name of Super Awesome Hyper Dimensional Mega Team decided to metaphorically offer me a coffee and prove the above statement wrong. The Knight Witch blends 2D adventure, space shooter mechanics (or shmup), deck building and a few other surprises to create a fun-as-heck experience that is well worth your time if you haven’t totally burned out on the genre. 

LadiesGamers Witch Knight
Spell Yeah!

The Underdog

The game begins with a prologue to set up the game’s lore. An industry-heavy empire called the Daigadai is sucking resources out of the planet to advance technology even when the world is heading into apocalyptic disaster. Lucky for the planet, the Knight Witches fly in at the 11th hour, whose powers are strengthened by the people’s belief in them. A belief which happens to be pretty strong in this dark time. So strong, it destroys the bad guy with a big fist revealing an underground cave system humanity is now able to live in and survive. Keep in mind all the above is just the prologue which is played out in a player-controlled segment which introduces the game’s controls.

Eventually, you play Rayne the Knight Witch who no one really talks about and acts as the plot’s underdog. Turns out the Daigadai are not quite all defeated and with the other Knight Witches unavailable it’s up to you to take up the Knight Witch mantle and attempt to save the day.

As you can gauge this game is very story heavy but while the themes don’t feel particularly new, I did quickly warm to Rayne who is a very likeable protagonist. This also extends to the game’s NPCs, with quirky characters like the skeleton baker who provides temporary armour throughout the game. Even the game’s main villain has a few humorous moments.

Something about the underdog always feels so suited to a video game where you gradually level up as the game progresses. The plot is presented in text boxes only and mostly leans into the witty humour territory but does take its moments to be on the serious side. 

LadiesGamers Witch Knight
Be the people’s hope

Explore and Shmup

Gameplay is the usual template for an adventure game where you explore a large map going from room to room defeating enemies, avoiding hazards and so forth. The map is tracked in the menu and as you progress you’ll unlock new abilities enabling you to access new areas you passed previously in the games.

Knight Witch takes its own spin on this template thanks to many unique quirks. The main one is its bullet hell-style combat. There is no jumping in the game. Rayne constantly floats in the sky like a fairy. You attack enemies with a simple shot attack. These attacks can be directed with the right analogue stick like a twin-stick shooter. But a nice additional feature is you can hold the shoot button only and the attack will home in on the nearest target at the cost of reduced fire rate and damage. This is especially useful when the bullets are flying and you need to focus on avoiding damage whilst still dealing a little of your own.

Avoid Hazards

It’s not all shooting, there are plenty of moments where you need to avoid hazards and fly through tricky obstacles. To add to the combat the game has a card system. In the bottom right of the screen, three magic cards are randomly drawn from your deck. These include changing your attack to machine gun fire temporarily, summoning a giant rotating axe, creating a shield to block bullets and many many more. These cards can be selected at the save slot and you can even experiment with them in a training area to create your preferred build. With enough mana these can be activated during combat.

The trouble is, this is an action game, not a turn-based game. With cards being randomly drawn it’s really hard to focus on the action on the screen and pick the right card. It’s often likely the one you really need won’t be available until you have cycled through some of the others first which adds to the frustration. The game could maybe utilize a slow-down feature to help with this. I mostly just selected a random card and hoped for the best with mixed results. 

LadiesGamers Witch Knight
I like to be under the sea

Unique Levelling System

Knight Witch does employ a unique levelling system. This is increased by simply talking to NPCs in the world giving the incentive to talk to everyone, something I rarely see in an adventure game. Once you level up you can select to focus on your shot damage or magic damage or balance the two. Another way to increase the level is through the progress of the story.

Between missions, you hold a press conference with the public to instil confidence in you. Remember the more they believe the more powerful you get. The trouble is you’ll need to morally choose between telling the truth with less experience as a reward or lie but for a significantly higher reward. The allure of more experience is appealing but be aware the consequences of lying will haunt you later in the game. It’s a pretty cool feature that reminded me a bit of Fable 3 if you remember that little gem.

LadiesGamers Witch Knight
Build your deck

Fairytale Beauty

Graphics are exceptionally hand-drawn sprites and environments with fluid animations. The mix of fairytale design and steampunk is a really nice fit for the game. In addition, it makes it stand out from the traditional fantasy formula. You’ll explore a variety of environments, which do a pleasant job blending technology with vegetation, with some really nice lighting effects which you don’t often see in 2D games.

It was a joy to explore each corner of the map. To accompany the graphics you have a soundtrack that feels quite cinematic. Leaning into more chilled themes during exploration but tensing up into something rockier when the action heats up. The game ran well on PC, but, I did have this issue where the game would not load properly on the first boot-up and always required a restart to fix. I didn’t encounter any issues with the gameplay on the steam version.

LadiesGamers Witch Knight
Pay attention to the gorgeous lighting effects

Tough Underground

The difficulty feels a bit all over the place. The game only features base difficulty mode which often peaks during action sequences. With health being only little heart shards you need to be pretty careful not to take hits. Good eye coordination is pretty essential for this bullet hell adventure. I would say if you’re not great with bullet hell games this may initially put you off. But if you persevere there is something quite rewarding to the challenge.

Save spots are featured often and handy shortcuts you unlock will remain even if you perish reducing some of the repetitive tedium. I did love how Rayne stops for a cup of tea when she takes a break at save slots. The game also features a hint button which presents a glow of light to your next objective. It points you just about in the right direction. But doesn’t tell you exactly where to go, so still expect to do a bit of your own exploring. 

LadiesGamers Witch Knight
Its not all shooting sometimes its care maneuvering

Conclusion – Magic Left in the Genre

As a big fan of shmups, Knight Witch left a very good impression on me but it might not suit everyone. It may still follow the familiar adventure template, but this steampunk fairy tale has enough tricks to make itself stand out from the genre. If you haven’t been burned out by the genre then be sure to give this a look or add it to your wish list. Knight Witch is challenging, quirky and an example that there’s still some magic left in the 2D adventure genre.

Final Verdict: I Like it a Lot

I like it a lot

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