Alas, it’s pretty rare these days to come across a truly original gaming concept. Developed by the catchily named Super Awesome Hyper Dimensional Mega Team, and published by the might of Team17, The Knight Witch appears to be one such occurrence, however. A bullet-hell, deck-building experience, BUT set in a metroidvania style world? Well, that sounds darn exciting, doesn’t it?
Set in the beautiful world of Dungeonidas, The Knight Witch centres around a group of… knight witches, who are very much the good in this traditional good and evil story. An evil army of golems has taken over Dungeonidas and you control the protagonist Rayne as she defeats the baddies and rescues some kidnapped pals along the way. Rayne is one of the titular ‘knight witches’, which as the name suggests, are a tribe of small mage-witches that whizz around on their brooms. That brings me to my first major positive in The Knight Witch; the traversal and player movement is smoother than a pair of silk pyjamas. As you duck and weave your way through the onslaught of bullets, you find yourself squeezing through the tightest of gaps and it always feels like you’re centimetres from death, but the tight and responsive controls are incredibly satisfying as you slip through at the last second, just like that scene from Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.
The art style is beautiful and the whole adventure sounds, looks and feels like a 2D Legend of Zelda game, which I love. That kind of cutesy style contrasted against a slightly dark and foreboding story really fits well here. I understand that everything in The Knight Witch is hand-drawn and that attention to detail really pays off. I tried playing both portably and on the TV and it was the latter when Dungeonidas really came to life. What a beautiful world to explore!
With The Knight Witch being a metroidvania, there is plenty to do and plenty to find as you explore the world. You are rewarded for having a good old fashioned poke-around and I can’t believe that combining metroidvanias and deck-building games hasn’t been done more frequently. The exploration and secret-finding that a metroidvania encourages is incredibly conducive to a deck-building game because finding more powerful cards of course reaps rewards in combat and other scenarios. So yeah, I wonder if Super Awesome Hyper Dimensional Mega Team have started a new trend, let's see!
- Smooth and tight movement controls
- Beautiful hand-drawn art style
- Metroidvanias and deck-building; a match made in heaven!
While the metroidvania and magic deck-building matchup in The Knight Witch works, the bullet hell and deck-building axis doesn’t so much for me. During combat, you can build up a bar that allows you to use the special card-based attacks; there are three button slots where the cards appear and in the heat of battle, I often found myself looking at the bottom right of the screen to see which cards had appeared in which button slot, but in doing so, it took my off the chaotic battle and I took damage. I just felt the balance between bullet hell combat and having a basic, albeit distracting, special attack mechanic was off, and I died a few times unnecessarily as a result.
Also, despite being billed as a metroidvania, the game world is probably more akin to an old fashioned RPG whereby you move from screen-to-screen. There are one or two larger hubs to be explored but most of the interconnecting areas are a series of rooms, rather than larger explorable places. I would describe The Knight Witch as more of a metroidvania-lite, kind of like the Guacamelee games.
Lastly, and this is a bit obvious, but seeing how The Knight Witch is a bullet-hell game, this game may not be for you if you are easily frustrated. You really need to be on the ball and the combat is relentless, which is not for the faint-hearted. But I guess The Knight Witch does exactly what it says on the tin; I just don’t see it attracting many metroidvania or deck-building fans because bullet hell is by far the most dominant genre at play here.
- Chaotic gameplay doesn’t compliment strategy
- Metroidvania mechanics exist but are rudimentary
- Will probably more appeal to bullet-hell fans than anything else
Final Score: 8/10
The Knight Witch was a blast, it really was, and is also truly original. How many games can say that these days? The mish-mash of genres works on many levels but may also put off fans of some of the lesser-used genres on display here. But if you’re a bullet-hell fan, or just a fan of fun, beautiful, chaotic video games in general, then you won’t go far wrong with The Knight Witch.
Thank you for checking out our The Knight Witch Switch review, thank you to Team17 for providing the review code and thank you to our Patreon Backers for their ongoing support: