When I first learned about Witchfire, I just knew I was going to love the game. What I didn’t expect however is just how much I’d fall in love with it in such a short time. To put it poetically, it isn’t just my cup of tea – it’s the entire teapot.
In essence, Witchfire is an action shooter alla Shadow Warrior, but with elements from the Soulsbourne games and with a few dungeon crawler mechanics sprinkled here and there. In short, it’s kind of like Bloodborne, but first-person.
The Cursed World of Witchfire
The world of Witchfire is about as grimdark as it gets. One day, a covenant of witches decides to start an all-out war against the rest of humanity, which is led by the Church and the Papacy. Despite their numerical advantage, humanity starts losing the war, as the witches’ foul magic is too much for mere humans to handle.
That’s where you come in. In Witchfire, the player takes the role of a Preyer (say that 10 times real quick without getting tongue-tied). Preyers are mysterious agents of the Church ordained solely by the Pope himself. Unlike the rest of humanity, Preyers can harvest the very Witchfire that the witches use to conduct their foul magics.
Armed with only a single revolver and a heart full of contempt for everything foul, you set out on your mission. But, what is your mission anyway?
Your mission is to find an artifact that is reportedly located on a beached ship belonging to the enemy. This “weapon” presumably has the power to finally turn the tide against the witches and end humanity’s plight.
Witchfire is Gothic Art Done Right
I’m a huge fan of everything Gothic, be it the architecture, or culture. The thing that Witchfire does right is that it nails that feeling perfectly of being in a Gothic setting, and everything that comes with it. It’s a feeling that has become a staple of Soulslike games, and there is a lot of it in Witcfire.
It’s a feeling of melancholy but with a glimmer of hope at its very core. Even though there is chaos and destruction all around, you can still find some beauty and order in the finest details of the world. Be it in the architecture, nature itself, or the craftsmanship that went into the weapons you wield. Speaking about weapons.
The Tools at Your Disposal
As a Preyer, the tools in your arsenal are vast and varied. You have three weapon slots in total. The first two are used to equip regular weapons that fire enchanted bullets, while the third spot is reserved for Demonic weapons that fire Demonic ammunition.
Additionally, you also get two spell slots, one for Light Spells and one for Heavy Spells. Light Spells usually tend to be good for focusing down single targets, while Heavy Spells are reserved for taking out large crowds of enemies.
Finally, you have your ancillaries. One for Relics, one for Fetishes, and one for Rings. The ancillaries give your character a special power that you wouldn’t normally have, hence why they are so rare. That, however, is not the main way in which you enhance your power. The main way in which you enhance your powers is through Witchfire crystals.
The Gameplay of Witchfire
Witchfire does not have an open world and instead uses a system of portals to transport you from one area to another, similar to what Chernobylite does. Pictured below is the Scarlet Coast, the game’s first area. Get used to looking at it, as you’ll be spending a large portion of your time in it.
Once you get into one of these areas, you’ll be met with a random array of loot and enemy camps. Whatever you do, do not underestimate the enemies in this game. That is a mistake I repeatedly made on the first few trips to the Scarlet Coast, which promptly resulted in me seeing this screen quite often.
Eventually, however, I got better. Either I was going to beat Witchfire, or Witchfire was going to beat me. And there’s no way in hell I was going to let the second option come to fruition. So, I got smarter and started developing different tactics. I started learning the enemy’s attack patterns, and most importantly, I started using the right weapons.
If you want to get anything done in Witchfire, you’re gonna have to use the right weapons for the right job. There is no “one gun for every occasion,” although I wish there was. There are quite a few weapons in Witchfire, all with their own unique stats and capabilities. Mix and match based on the challenges ahead of you.
Research and Improvement
Research, research, and research again! Research is your most important asset in the game. You should always have something researching in the background, cause if you don’t you’re just begging for a hard time. Witchfire crystals are how you get stronger, but it’s the weapons and Arcana you unlock that ultimately give you the most power.
Witchfire crystals spawn whenever you clear an area of baddies. These crystals give you the option to select a random Arcana, as well as a boost to your stats. Additionally, they give you a sizable Stamina increase. Beware though, the more of these you collect, the more likely a Calamity will spawn.
Calamities are this game’s “time to get out of here” event. They’re denoted by the sudden chiming of a church bell, as well as a text notification on the side of your screen. Whenever these begin, you have about 30 seconds to run to the nearest portal to get out of there. Just do it, it’s not worth losing all the Witchfire you’ve collected.
Remember Philippians 4:13
The Ascension Shrine is how you get stronger in this game. In it, you can spend the Volatile Witchfire that you’ve collected on your expeditions to level up your character. Be warned, however, whenever you increase your prowess in this game, so too does the enemy increase theirs.
Each level-up you pick up makes you marginally stronger, while at the same time making your enemies significantly harder. As such, you really have to pick and choose what you level up and when, as you’ll inadvertently be making life more difficult for yourself.
The enemy types in this game are no joke. Whether it’s the Husks that rush you in numbers, the Musketeers that snipe you from afar, the Assassins that blind you and sneak up on you, or the Swordmen that relentlessly attack you without respite. Use the appropriate tactics against each one and avoid being surrounded.
In Conclusion: There’s Trouble in Paradise
I think Witchfire is shaping up to be an amazing, and unrelenting experience, however, the fact that it’s still an early-access title is undeniably obvious. For starters, it isn’t very well optimized as of yet. You’ll ideally need a decent GPU to run everything smoothly, and even then it’s a bit questionable.
Additionally, there are many features and zones that are outright missing. The missing Zones I can look past, what I can’t look past are the missing QoL features. For starters, a manageable inventory screen with a dedicated storage space is desperately missing from the game in its current state.
Another aspect that definitely needs some focus on is the level-up system. Sure, it’s interesting that the enemies get tougher as you level up. But the fact that every encounter feels like a boss fight after a certain point just doesn’t seem right.
The early access period should serve it well, and I hope that with enough feedback, the developers can fine-tune the experience into something special.
What did you think of our Witchfire first impressions? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
This preview is based on the PC version of Witchfire. The key was provided by Evolve PR.