Witchfire – Preview
Follow Genre: Roguelite FPS
Developer: The Astronauts
Publisher: The Astronauts
Platform: PC, PS4, Xbox One
Tested on: PC

Witchfire – Preview

Good: Original blend of mechanics, great atmospheric aesthetics
Bad: You can't get ahead much
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VN:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
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We have to admit that when we first started Witchfire we were a little bit confused. Firstly, a lot is going on in the game when you just drop in. You have a gun, sure, but this is not a normal FPS. Secondly, it looks like you are wielding a gun in a world that’s a mod for either Dark Souls or The Witcher. It plays a bit like it too, but it adds some very interesting mechanics. What the hell is Witchfire exactly and how does it play in Early Access?

Any game that Epic Games is promoting must be a game that’s worth the hassle, so we were very curious to check this one out. All we knew from the introductory cutscene was that we were a witch hunter, blessed by the Pope to hunt a powerful Witch. The war between witches and the remnants of humanity is waging and humanity is losing. When we first entered the game though, we didn’t feel like a powerful witch hunter at all. All we got was a revolver that felt a bit like a pea shooter because we were trying to shoot it from too far away, which was the first step to finding out how the game works. The game doesn’t tell you much aside from a small tutorial section, but we actually kind of liked that as it kept a lot of the impressive environment and enemies shrouded with mystery.

Witchfire looks absolutely amazing. Even with a 1080 GTX as GPU, which is becoming pretty outdated, we were absolutely blown away by the pretty details all around us. The placements of models that make up a map are simply brilliant. A map gives you enough freedom to roam around a bit, but everything is set up for battle perfectly. It would fit a shooter such as the Unreal Tournament series not so poorly either, but it works really well for what the game tries to achieve. We also loved the animations of enemies and how different they all are. In Early Access there are two maps available to play, where you unlock one after completing the other, and there are a whole bunch of different enemies that will be spread out over the possibly ten to twenty hours of gameplay that are already there at least.

So how does one play Witchfire? Well, you start on a map of your choosing. Your main objective on this map is to kill the boss enemy. If you succeed in doing so, the second map will become available. If you really want to, you have the freedom to run to the boss as fast as you can, but that’s not really how the game is meant to be played. First of all, bosses can be really tough, and that simple revolver you got at the start won’t do you much good. Second of all, this game follows some of Dark Souls’ mechanics. For each enemy you slay, you get some “volatile witchfire”, a currency much like “souls”. If you die, you get one chance to retrieve your loot the next time you enter the map. If you die again before that, all non-retrieved, unspent witchfire will be lost. Other currencies consist of consumable stacks of witchfire that award you small to large amounts, and coins that you get for collecting treasures.

With your witchfire you can upgrade stats such as your health, how much health regeneration a consumable gives, or how much stamina you have. With coins, you can expedite research progress to discover new weapons, trinkets, and spells. If you don’t use coins, this research progresses up to a maximum of two items by simply playing the game and dying or returning safely. You can also upgrade weapons, spells, and trinkets to make yourself stronger. While this is already a clever system under construction, we were even more excited about how the actual gameplay on the map pans out.

You see, aside from the boss area, there are multiple other areas on a map. You will spawn out of a portal in one area as soon as you enter, and with some roguelite elements (the map can change over multiple tries) the map is filled with camps of enemies, traps, and other special objectives. Special objectives can bring you riches, and clearing a camp of enemies will allow you to pick one of two or three random upgrades for your current run. This means that if you would clear all enemy camps before taking on the boss, you would have a significant advantage with all the upgrades you gathered. If you’re not careful though, you will run out of health elixirs, making the risk of continuing greater and perhaps even losing your collected loot. If you go back, you will have to start the map over again, but if you continue there might be unexpected consequences. These consequences even include “the witch” casting a calamity spell, which is a spell that makes a clock tick before unleashing dangerous foes on you. If you can find the source of the spell that’s indicated on the map and destroy it, you can reverse the spell or stop it before it happens.

All these elements make sure that there’s already a lot going on and enough to play this game in Early Access. We thoroughly enjoyed exploring the maps, shooting the numerous types of enemies, and researching new weapons to become better at the game and slay the boss creatures. As we grew in our level though, the types of enemies and difficulty started changing too. We are not sure if we like this aspect of the game, because it feels like we can’t get ahead even on a map that’s classified as “easy”. Other than that, we hope this game keeps developing in the same direction as it is right now.


So far, Witchfire is super interesting to play. It’s like a risk-reward roguelite FPS with a lot of replay value and some mechanics of games such as Dark Souls, and beautiful graphics that really sell the picture this game is trying to create. We are incredibly curious to see what will follow in the rest of the development leading up to the full release of the game.

VN:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 0.0/10 (0 votes cast)
VN:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)

I'm a game designer, developer, and reviewer. I've been reviewing for 3rd-strike.com since 2017.

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