The Knight Witch Review: A magical twist on the genre — lean and engaging5 min read
I have a soft spot in my heart for a game with a good twist. A narrative switcheroo, that drags you further into the story than you’d otherwise care to go. The Knight Witch is one such game, one I initially wasn’t too keen on but eventually won me over.
The Knight Witch is a 2D Metroidvania packed with light bullet hell action. It follows the adventures of Rayne, the fifth member of a group of powerful magic-wielding warriors that gained infamy by saving the world’s population from extinction, leading them underground following a hard-fought battle with technologically advanced golems.
The Knight Witch is out on Switch, too! Kind of the perfect platform for it, really.
Starting off, the game is slow and didn’t really rub off on me. The initial premise, a typical magical girl tale where a green (but passionate) witch tries to live up to the example of her experienced peers and win the hearts of the people, failed to entice. I will not hide my general disinterest in the genre; any fiction I’ve read or watched that fits within the archetype have been commentaries of the genre, intentionally subverting expectations.
However, only an hour or two into the game, the game starts chipping at the sparkly paintwork of The Knight Witches – picking at the accepted role your character and their predecessors in the world, and what it actually means to carry the hopes of the people on your shoulders.
The game offers a binary choice at numerous points, which has a genuine impact on your character’s performance out in enemy-infested areas. I, always one to delve into “bad options” when available in games, was happy to see the game not wag its finger at you. You may feel like a bit of a jerk, but there’s a good reason for doing so that’s weaved throughout the game’s message.
Suffice to say, The Knight Witch shifted away from regularity and managed to keep me invested in what was going on. It is not Disco Elysium, or another narrative masterpiece that’ll be held up by the most pretentious and artistic-minded gamers out there, but it is clever.
I know like three guys who look and act just like this.
But, what about the gameplay itself? You, as a Knight Witch, have two forms of attack. First, a magical blast that acts as your primary source of damage against enemies. The second are spells, mana-consuming attacks that are drawn from a deck of six cards from a customizable spell deck. Generally, a firefight in The Knight Witch has you build up mana with magical blasts to collect mana, then cashing out your mana for powerful abilities.
This spell deck is the sole source of customisation in The Knight Witch. With it, you can pick and choose what sort of combat style you want to mess around with. Me? I really liked magic blast modifiers, taking duplicates of the Hand Cannon card, a reload spell, and filled out the other slots with defensive options so I can keep up my weapon of choice constantly. However, the game does throw a nice range of different spells your way that significantly alter the way you approach fights.
You’ll want to refine your cards too, because The Knight Witch can really be tricky at times. The game doesn’t pull its punches. You’re thrown at a boss almost immediately, which while not overtly troublesome isn’t something you can just sleepwalk through. The game spreads out a steady difficulty curve throughout, keeping you on your toes from start to finish.
There are aids to help you out, like an auto-aim firing mode that shoots off blasts with reduced damage so you can focus on movement and dodging attacks and keep the pressure up. Enemies also drop currency which can be exchanged for temporary armour and upgrades to rest points, so you can pile up advantages for tricky fights. Perhaps the most engaging form of advancement comes from increasing your link level, your primary source of character upgrades. You gain these by saving people out in the world and making certain narrative choices, you can alter your approach to these moments accordingly.
This whole package is paired with a pleasing presentation, especially in regards to the aesthetic. The numerous regions in The Knight Witch are all distinct, packing bright colours and intricate backgrounds. It’s just a delight to look at. You find this every now and again with indie games especially, packing artists with serious talent like a six shooter at their hip. Blam! Eye candy coming straight at you before you know what has hit you.
Nice visuals aren’t the only thing coming your way. Bullets! Magic! Wablamo!
When it comes to negatives, I did run into some bugs during my time playing however, including a save file that wouldn’t load after a mid-death Alt-F4 (I know, I know), as well as my bullet direction briefly locking in a single direction. Also, while I love myself a great game with a short completion time, I beat the game in around 10 hours. Not a bad time at all for a project packed with passion, especially in a year with Signalis (of all games championing) the merits of a fluffless experiment. But, if money is tight at the moment, you may want to bear that in mind.
It’s also worth noting that a console bug found literally the day before launch has caused the launch on that platform to be delayed a whole week. The game has some issues of this nature, so while nothing like this ruiined my time with The Knight Witch, maybe prepare to run into some if you’re picking it up on launch.
All in all, I came away pleasantly surprised by The Knight Witch. At a time where so many games are vying for your time and attention, a neatly packed present of an indie, clearly made by a team that knows what it’s doing and a quirk not found elsewhere makes for a great refresher. While I don’t believe it quite makes the cut as a classic, nor will it make many game of the year lists, it is still well worth your time. Personally, I think Super Mega Team is a studio I’ll be keeping track of from here one out.