Hide & Seek. A game probably old as time in which the only thing you need is the people to play it with. One player seeks while others hide. While simple in its concept and execution it still manages to be one of the most satisfactory and panicky games out there, no matter the variation. While plenty of games such as most recent horror games feature a sort of life or death hide & seek that takes the panic to a whole new level, there's not a lot of games that execute the pure concept just for fun. Perhaps the most famous example is certainly attached to Valve's Source engine where the concept jumped from CS:GO to Team Fortress before finding a definite home in the form of Prop Hunt, using Garry's Mod.
With Witch It, developed by Barrel Roll Games, prominent hide & seek games stop piggybacking on established games and become their own thing. A game is developed from the ground up with this concept in mind rather than being an adaptation of a pre-existing game. It tries and succeeds in taking the genre to a whole new level.
Witch It is available for purchase on Steam Early Access.
Witch it is a pure game of hide and seek where two opposing factions, well, hide and seek. On one side we have the hiders in form of witches and on the other side, we have the seekers, or here, hunters. What immediately separates this game from the competition is that at the beginning of each round, you have access to a pool of skills for each faction. So far, there are five skills for each side, two of which you can use during a match. The usage of these is essential if you want your team to win.
So far they fall into two different categories, movement, and utility. So the witches have access to decoy, flying, mushroom, possession and clingy luaq while the hunters have the chicken, body slam, grappling hook, the onion, and vacuum trap. Most of them are self-explanatory but all revolve around making yourself scarce, hard to find and fooling your opponent for the witches and finding, tagging and bagging for the hunters.
So far the skills are fairly balanced although I have to give a slight edge to the hunters which won the matches most of the time while I was playing. The system is sure to be refined and fine-tuned until and after release as new skills are introduced. Despite that, the gameplay design of Witch It even now feels polished enough to be a full release. The matches can become insane adrenaline pumping affairs when playing solo and hilariously fun when playing with a couple of friends.
Content-wise, the game features a couple of beautifully made and diverse maps to play on with hundreds of usable props littering each one. There is also a basic progression system through which you can unlock numerous customization options ranked by rarity for your characters. There's also a very unintrusive in-game shop that also features a couple of cosmetic options should you choose to further stick out from the crowd.
I only rarely encountered bugs like clipping through the environment and there was one instance which cost me the match as my skills wouldn't activate. This didn't influence my impression of the game as the developer is very active with the community and promises bug fixes as well as more maps, props, skills, cosmetics, further balancing and plenty more before the full release.
VISUALS AND AUDIO
Witch It further separates itself by adopting a unique visual style that just fits the quirky and fun nature of the game. The graphical style sits somewhere between Team Fortress and Minecraft in that it's highly stylized but also pixelated to create a really unique blend. From the characters to diverse levels, everything exudes this sort of identity and charm that will certainly catch your eye. This visual style also comes with the perk of not being heavy on the system so it runs smoothly, even on older PC's which is sure to come in handy in creating a solid player base.
On the audio side of things, it's pretty much the same as a quirky game wouldn't be complete with its own set of adorable and funny sounds to round out the package. As of yet, the game features no music and I'm personally kind of torn between having it. On one hand, I think the visual design would greatly synergize with appropriately fun and lighthearted music, but on the other, music would maybe eliminate the sounds that sometimes help you hide or find the opposing team.
Witch It, even while still in early access, is probably the best hide & seek game out there right now. Despite it taking inspiration from Prop Hunt, it has an identity of its own with gameplay mechanics that already push it past its influencer, and there's still plenty of content to come. If you are looking for a fun, lighthearted multiplayer game that you can pick up and play with strangers or better yet, with a couple of friends, I guarantee that you will have an absolute blast.