Are witches the new zombies? They are increasingly everywhere. My benchmark for terrible witchy things is the film “Season of the Witch”, a film so poor that I cannot forgive myself or Joe for not leaving the cinema. Trigger Witch, is fortunately, neither a bad witch film or a bad game. Trigger Witch blends magic as a distant concept, with the culture of being a “witch” and some good, old fashioned, dystopian approach to the world where it’s totally normal for a 16 year old to be given guns and fight against other magical races.
At A Glance
|Positives||+ Solid plot throughout|
|+ Music is lovely|
|+ Nice homage to the 16-Bit era|
|Negatives||– Constant waiting for guns to recharge|
|– Puzzles are severely lacking|
|– Repetitive gameplay|
|Our Playtime||8 hours 5 mins|
|Available On||PS5, Xbox Series X|S, Nintendo Switch, Xbox One & PS4|
Trigger Witch manages to blend the visual style the SNES era, with the sounds of talking characters the GBA era, along with some shmup elements and put it into a modern gaming system. At one point I felt like I was in a bullet hell game. Yet, this insane blend of games somehow manages to become repetitive. I myself only able to play the game in short sessions before needing to take a break.
The game’s controls are fairly intuitive. The left control stick moves you around and the right is used to aim, R is the trigger. Pretty standard at this point. L is a little dash move that gives you invisibility, very briefly, while dashing. I reviewed this on the Nintendo Switch and in my view, the only way to play this game is with the Pro Controller. With the joy-con connected to the Switch I consistently missed buttons or double hit buttons. This is due to a mix of the need for multiple presses of buttons at the same time and the joy-con buttons being so small!
Combat tries to be innovative and interesting, but ultimately this is where the game has the biggest flaw. Shooting stuff, regardless of whether it’s a gun, a grenade or on the back of a broomstick does get tiring. There are multiple choices of weapons and upgrades throughout the game, you pick up guns at shops and throughout the levels and they are leveled up in shops as well. The guns have their own recharging mechanism, rather than ammo, once they run out there is a wait time for them to become usable again. The one exception is the gun you’re gifted by your mother at the start of the game that never runs out but does have a second reload time – so keep an eye on how many shots you’ve got left. This really reminds me of play to win or as a real throwback, Farmville. But there are currently no microtransactions or pay to win. Arguably it’s a more enjoyable mechanic than the weapon just magically exploding but it is odd not having ammo drop boxes.
In most games of this genre, there are tons of enemies and in Trigger Witch, they appear in the same spots and frequently. There is a very limited amount of health and the enemies are actually strong. Making this game a challenge, and possibly adding to the frustration factor. The enemies range from mushrooms and flies to your high school bully and dragons. Many rooms are dependent on all enemies being killed and the rooms are often pretty big. This results in quite a lot of running around looking for the enemies – or running from them while waiting for weapons to reload, rather than moving on in the game.
An area lacking is the puzzles. I love a puzzle but these are just not challenging. They felt like they were added because they have to be there, rather than to make the game more challenging outside of shooting things. The classic orbs that need triggering are there and the stereotypes of the era Trigger Witch is paying homage to exist, but without the finesse to keep it fun in 2021.
The two areas of particular note is the music and the storyline. The music has major nostalgia, with a look like A Link to the Past it’s expected to have a 32 bit soundtrack and the composers pay homage to the era well. In particular when the characters are talking they have a distinct noise that gave me immediate Golden Sun vibes rather than the arguably annoying voices of Animal Crossing characters. Otherwise each area has its own distinct music and when there are enemies approaching an electric metal soundtrack overlays the normal music in the area. You rapidly get used to the noise of electric metal as there’s enemies everywhere, all the time.
The storyline is solid. To avoid spoilers, it’s a mixed fantasy, survival and teenage drama story that with comic elements throughout. There are snippets of hyper aware modern script that breaks you out of the game and into real life – like remember your occupational safety requirements. The usual tropes of fantasy games and books are littered throughout the game but they are well woven and actually makes me want to read the story rather than just skipping as quickly as possible.
Graphically the game is where there is the least blend. Some sprites feel like they have been lifted from other fantasy games of varying quality and then there are the enemies and landscapes which are really strong. Something I like in particular is the reflection of the character in the water, the bloody footsteps when health is running low and footprints in the snow. But the very mixed graphical quality can be quite jarring. That said, the game has no slow down, even in bullet hell and the characters run across the screen smoothly and the animations look great.
One flashback moment for me is when you’re on a broomstick and flying over lava. It has the distinct feel of the Flying Carpet level in Aladdin in the Sega Mega Drive/Genesis, even if it looks nothing like it.
Ultimately, Trigger Witch feels like it’s trying to blend too many styles together at once and doesn’t blend them well enough. The game can feel challenging due to overly strong enemies but this is also frustrating at times. The lack of good puzzles is disappointing and they either need to be integral or removed. That said, Trigger Witch feels like the start to a solid franchise and at the price point it is an enjoyable game but with some flaws that cannot be ignored.
In the interest of full disclosure, the publisher provided VGamingNews with a copy of the game in order to conduct this review.