It’s the Witching hour!
In September 1981, an arcade game was released called ‘Galaga’. It was a vertical space shooter, where you and your spaceship could move up, down, left & right, dodging a multitude of laser blasts whilst shooting back at the alien scum. It is a classic example of an 80’s arcade game. No story, just skill, and fun!
But why are you writing about an old game, Chris? I thought this was a review of a new title?
Well, change the aliens for warlocks, fairies, and wizards. Change your spaceship for a mischievous teenage witch and change the whole perspective from 2D to 3D, and you have developer Cardboard Keep’s ‘Witch Thief’.
Whilst 'Witch Thief' is still in the early stages of development, meaning there is no audio at all, the graphics and gameplay are surprisingly well-defined, although still needing a little polish. Likewise, the controls are well thought out and positioned on the keyboard to be easily reached with one hand while using the mouse to target and fire your spells. It all feels very natural to control.
However, at this point, my nostalgia ran out and I began to notice a couple of issues.
Firstly the movement had a very on/off feel, meaning it was hard to make small adjustments to positioning. The sensitivity will have you moving at full speed from the instant a directional input was pressed leaving you frustrated when your dodging move gets you killed. A more manageable option would be a gradual increase up to full speed or even a ‘sprint’ button to help with a minor change in position during battle.
Additionally, Cardboard Keep has created a difficulty system which I feel still requires some work. It is based on the speed of the enemies ‘bullets’ (their word) and the number of lives available to you. Unfortunately, this does not feel like it changes the difficulty level at all. As you will see from my gameplay video, within the tight confines of each battle area a hundred ‘bullets’ fired on various trajectories towards you at slow or high speed is still a hundred ‘bullets’ you have to dodge. And let's face it, they give you 99 lives on ‘Casual’ difficulty for a reason.
Don’t get me wrong, I can see a lot of promise in this game in its current development state. It is a lot of fun and I will be keeping an eye on how it progresses. But if I do end up buying it, I can promise you I will have done A LOT of hand/eye coordination work.
If you would like to check out The Witch Theif for yourself it is available on itch.