Beware the Witch!
Old school 2D platform games have certainly been in the forefront in 2014. Games like Shovel Knight, Mighty No. 9, and Azure Striker Gunvolt are some great examples of how this seemingly “old school” type of gaming is more popular than ever. Trying to join in on the excitement is The Legend of Dark Witch. Witchcraft combined with a bit of customization allows this game to have a unique spot in this genre of games for the Nintendo 3DS.
Circle Entertainment is a fairly new developer and publisher located in China that was founded in 2006. The company takes pride in themselves for utilizing the latest technology while keeping pace with the videogame industry. In addition, Circle Entertainment boasts that the average age for the company is only 25. Some of Circle Entertainment’s recent games include Theological July, Bridal June, Knytt Underground, and Demon King Box (which we previously reviewed).
Right off the bat, the storyline is not explicitly told. Players just start playing and eventually get snippets of what is going on in the world they’re playing in. Essentially, Syega Crystals, items that provide the power to all magical creatures in the world have gone missing. Your character, Zizou, a dark witch herself, must retrieve the missing Syega Crystals to bring balance to this mystical world. Unfortunately, the story isn’t anything new and is very cursory. Little to no depth of it is explored, and quite frankly, unentertaining.
However, what was entertaining was the presentation of the game. The simple, yet well crafted, graphics of the game makes it at the very least a nice game to look at. Each stage has its own theme (library, fighting arena, etc.), with specific enemies, hazards, and unique music that directly tie into the stage you are currently battling through. The first stage, for example, is the library. Some enemies you face include a librarian, falling books, and a one-eyed book who launches pages at you. The music is pretty casual with nothing fast-paced. I’ve heard that libraries were a place of terror, so I suppose casual music with attacking books sounds about right.
Since this is a ported game from Japan, there are voice actors who, logically, speak in Japanese. This is nothing new since it is very expensive to hire more voice actors. Consequently, the text that translates the banter back-and-forth works just fine.
Like any typical 2D platform game, the objective is to get from one side of the stage all the way to the other. Sounds easy, right? Well if it does, you can adjust the gameplay with three different difficulties – Easy, Normal, and Lunatic. In addition, players can decide how they want to “install” upgrades to their character – auto (game selects which attributes to boost), semi-auto, and manual (complete autonomy). These customizations of gameplay, right in the beginning, can offer unique experiences to each player, in addition to some nice replayability.
Players then use the A/X/B/Y buttons to either jump, attack, switch attacks, or utilize a special attack. At first, I was a little annoyed by the pre-designated button assignments, but quickly found out that you can customize it (which is a great feature). The top screen offers the actual gameplay of your character, the world, and enemies. The bottom screen shows your health, lives, Tres (the currency you obtain from defeating enemies), and time. The presentation of the bottom screen was perfectly done – it’s a great layout that ensures that the top screen isn’t cluttered with an abundance of information.
In addition, there is an electronic manual that you can access throughout the game – a handy thing in case you want some clarification for something on the screen.
Something that irked me about the gameplay is that you can just hold down the attack button and destroy any enemy without thought. The button-smashing-esque combat can get very old very quickly. If you like that type of gameplay, then this is fine, but for wants a little bit more thought in their fighting can find this terribly boring. There are also no opportunities to replenish your health. Ever. So you either have to die to get full health for the boss, or go through the level without taking damage….an obvious flaw and annoying concept for sure.
The Verdict: 4.8 out of 10.0
Unfortunately, I was incredibly disappointed by The Legend of Dark Witch. The 2D platform action genre has some innovative and creative games. I always want to give indie games a chance, but the lack of story, intrigue, and overall appeal with this game simply made it unintriguing. The customization is a nice touch, but ultimately cannot save the game from a poor overall performance. If you do want to take the chance and play the game, you can purchase it in the Nintendo eShop for $3.99.
For more information about what the score means, check out our official review scale.