Witch Hunt, where you can channel your inner Van Helsing, hunt down the monsters terrorizing a small village, and uncover something much more sinister.
Genre: FPS, Horror
Developer: Andrii Vintsevych
Publisher: Andrii Vintsevych
Release date: 3 Sept, 2018
Do you want to be a true hunter of the occult and deadly creatures of the night, almost like a demon hunter (minus the bows/crossbows and super reflexes)? Well, Witch Hunt offers you the opportunity to do just that! You just don’t get to be as handsome as Hugh Jackman (but a man can wish!) Taking place in the 18th century, armed with nothing but a flintlock pistol, musket, and saber, you venture to a small town being attacked by evil creatures that are settled in the nearby woods. This is no walk in the park, as this will test your patience and perseverance. There is no hand-holding here, do you have what it takes to become a true hunter?
Welcome to Bellville
Witch Hunt was created by a single person, Andrii Vintsevych, and I will say for a single developer game, it is very well made! The game may use pre-made assets, but it was put together with attention to detail, and it is no simple asset flip. You can tell there was a lot of love and hard work put into it, and it shows! Everything feels like they belong here, and everything feels like part of the world. The world feels dark and grim, and the performance is quite stable! Keep in mind I do have an older PC, so I had to lower the graphics a bit and surprisingly I still have 20-30 fps. Sadly the graphical settings are limited to a single slider, and the only audio you can change is the music. There is an FOV slider that ranges from 65 to 90. Other than that the game is dripping with atmosphere, and combine that with some great ambience, it really sets the mood perfectly!
Right off the bat, let’s get one of my biggest complaints out of the way: the storytelling. The story being told is simply text on a blank screen. There is no dialogue of the player explaining the story, and I feel the game really could have benefited from this. It just feels sort of lazy to have some white text on a black screen telling you what the story is. However, there is dialogue from NPCs in the game! It is not a whole lot, but you’ll find a few lines from the merchant in the town, the doctor, and the mayor who has the most lines in the game. The town that acts as your hub area is pretty small, with just a few buildings you can actually explore, but you will want to search around as there are items that you can collect for money which you are going to need. At the start of the game, you are attacked by a beast just outside of town which took most of your equipment, but you still have your guns and sword. Even with that, though, you still only have some ammo and low health, so explore the town to get some money, and maybe get some upgrades. It is quite cool that when you defeat a boss, there will be slight changes to the town, such as new items to find!
The merchant has a variety of items to purchase and upgrades that you are going to need to survive. Your main arsenal is your flintlock pistol and musket loaded with silver bullets. You can find packages of bullets throughout the game, so you don’t have to buy them if you don’t want to. At the start, you can only carry 20 bullets but there is an upgrade to purchase that would let you double that. You can also upgrade your overall health to 120, eliminate fall damage (though there really isn’t needed as there aren’t too many places to fall from,) increase running stamina, a compass to see yourself on the map, and the bounty scroll, which you will very much need if you want to get enough money to have all the upgrades. The last bit of upgrades you can get are the special book upgrades. They are the most expensive to get but are also the only upgrades you can get from finding books in the game. These upgrades range from getting more money from items, to reloading faster, regenerating your health faster, gaining more health from the healing plant, having the power of the silver cross deal more damage and more range, etc. You will want to find most of these upgrades to save money for other upgrades, but the catch is finding a book will only give you a random one that you don’t have. If you have all the upgrades already, finding a book will only give you 50 gold instead. It doesn’t take very long to get all the upgrades if you are willing to explore and find items.
In the game, you will find chests/doors that are locked and require a lockpick to open them. At the start of the game, you will only have one and will get a 20% chance of success at a lockpick. There are no mini-game or luck based situations, it’s purely RNG if you get it or not. Failing to pick it will cause your lockpick to break. You can’t buy lockpicks and they can only be found in bundles. There is a skill book that will increase the chance of picking to 45%, though it still seems like a very low number. I have to note that in the end I still had 20 lockpicks left and had opened everything in the game.
Saving in this game is done in a few different ways. You save from either going to a new area (town or to forest,) or spending mana on the yellow rocks in certain areas around the map. Trust me when I say you will have to save quite often, as dying will lose all progress up to the last save, and it can be brutal if you have been wandering around the forest collecting items and getting kills. Still not hard enough? There is a “Perma” mode, that disables all saving, and only saves when you complete killing one of the bosses. Sounds like a really fun time doesn’t it?
Enter the Woods
The real meat of the game is in the forest, where you are alone, left to hunt down the beast and other evil creatures lurking in the area. The main objective is to kill the werewolf. From the very start, you have the ability to know if it’s nearby, as a small symbol in the top left will indicate that the monster is within 500 meters of you. It might not seem like much, but that is quite far! There will also be a heartbeat, and it will speed up when you get closer to the monster. You also have an ability called “Evil Sight” that, at a cost of mana, lets you see through the creature’s sight, giving you a rough idea about where it creature might be. For the most part, this can be kind of useless if you have no idea what the layout of the forest is as 90% of the time everything looks with trees everywhere. Very rarely will the creature decide to be on top of a hill or beside a landmark, but I guess that’s part of the hunting experience.
The forest is quite big and has some interesting landmarks hidden throughout it. The first thing you want to get is a map, as you are going to need this to get around. It is located at the cabin in the middle of the map, which also serves as a quick travel point between town. You can explore and find various landmarks strung across the map, like corpses with loot, a tree house, tents, statues, skeletons, a dog locked in a cage, spider cave, etc. For the most part, though, it’s mostly trees and rocks with some fog in some areas, but oh boy is it dripping with atmosphere. Walking down the paths not knowing what you are going to find or run into really gets to you when it’s your first time. Exploring the forest is the only way to find loot and upgrades. As you find more save points they are marked on your map. The longer you stay out, the more monsters will spawn. This is where the real nightmare of the game exists.
As you’re exploring the forest, monsters will slowly start to spawn into the forest. Each monster has their own sound which you can hear from a distance. You are able to sneak around most monsters if you wish, but you will want to get as many kills as possible. Each time you kill a monster, they will give you some mana, and possibly even drop some loot! Every monster is pretty simple and will run up to you to hit you, and will die within a few hits or just one hit in the head. At first, they can be intimidating and quite scary to fight them. You can shoot them with your weapons, but it’s not encouraged to do so, as shooting your guns makes noise and will attract even more monsters to you plus there is limited ammo available. Using the saber is quite easy, and does deal quite enough damage as it can kill most enemies in one hit if you do get them in the head. The only issue is that all enemies deal a lot of damage! Even one-on-one fights with enemies can leave you with very little health, and with no upgrades, this can easily get you killed. There are health plants growing around the map, though there aren’t a lot of them and they don’t heal a lot of health either. I found myself having an issue with the dogs, as they are fast and take a couple of hits. Even worse is the super fast crawling skeleton that will hit you and run away. They can easily end up killing you when you least want it, losing all your progress.
The worst enemy in the game though is the “Whisper”, an enemy that you can not kill. This is basically a jumpscare ghost you can’t outrun. You will know there is one nearby as you will hear it whispering. The Whisper is just a black little shadow, and if you get close enough, it will chase you down. You can’t outrun it as it moves faster than you, and once it catches you, it gives you a jumpscare, deals damage, saps all your mana, leaves you dazed and out of breath for a short time. These things will spawn in the worst places as well, spawning right where you want to go, like right beside a save point, or the travel point back to town.
From what I’ve seen, there are a total of four bosses. The first boss you have to hunt is the werewolf, which isn’t a terribly hard boss and quite fun to hunt. It’s only when you start going after the second boss that it becomes annoying. The second boss is the Sacrificial Tree, which you have to kill before you can hurt the Witch. This Witch also follows you the second you enter the forest. However, this tree has an insane amount of health. One shot only takes of a hair of health on the thing. It spits poison at you that you can only remove by jumping in water (which is sparse). As you are trying to fight this thing, the Witch is always after you, and every monster in the area is after you because of your weapon shots making noise. I had spent about an hour working it’s health down to about half, got swarmed by some zombies, got stuck, only to have the Witch one shot kill me, and lose all my work. After spending about four hours trying to kill the tree, and I just gave up. I wasn’t having fun anymore. I feel like there could have been something else in the game to help with this boss, but there isn’t. You just have to keep at it, and it’s just not fun to deal with, especially if you die and lose all that hard work.
For the price, it’s a pretty decent Indie game, that with some more improvements could be even better! There are just those few issues I noted that stop it from being perfect, which is why I was kind of on the fence about if I should recommend this game or not. The first time exploring the forest is definitely nerve-wracking, and keeps you on your toes! If it’s ever on sale and you are interested, then I say it’s a great game to pick up. In terms of full price, I’d say wait for a sale or some major improvements to the game.