Every now and then, you come across a game that truly captures the essence of adventure. Something that has that ‘just one more’ feeling until you look up and see the light peeking in from behind the curtains, and you realize that you should probably get some sleep. That game is The Knight Witch.
The Knight Witch is a metroidvania shoot ‘em up adventure game from the developers Team17. It expertly tip-toes the line between brutally difficult and rewarding to create a satisfying and addictive gameplay loop that you will struggle to put down. If this sounds like the kind of game you love, check out the rest of our The Knight Witch review to see if it’s right for you.
The Knight Witch is available on PC, PS4/PS5, Xbox One/Xbox Series as well as on the Switch for $19.99.
A Storybook Storyline
The Knight Witch’s fantasy storyline takes place in a world that doesn’t sound too dissimilar to our own (apart from all of the magic). The Earth has been all but destroyed by a greedy empire named The House of Daigadai, who has pillaged all of the world’s resources.
The Earth is destroyed to the point where the sky itself literally breaks open and renders the surface uninhabitable. The war between the Daigadai and The Knight Witches reaches its breaking point around the same time the sky does.
This is where you, the player, are thrust into the heart of battle. The beginning of the game is a trial by fire, to say the least. You take control moments before the final boss battle of the era of the Great War.
The end is an interesting place to start. But it truly sets the tone of the story and prepares you for the heart-racing gameplay that you can expect throughout the rest of the game. Once you defeat the Daigadai overlord, Earth’s survivors notice you have conveniently smashed a hole right through to an underground tunnel network. This is where they survive in peace for the next fourteen years.
Because, of course, it’s not over. The game only just started! As you can imagine, the threat is not quite quashed. Controlling the protagonist Rayne, an aspiring Knight Witch, you have to save the world from the thinly veiled metaphor for capitalism once again.
How Does It Play?
The Knight Witch is a metroidvania at heart. There is a vast 2D map with plenty of secrets to find as you progress through the story. Each section is linked by save points to provide a small reprieve. You can also restructure your spell deck here before you set back off.
You will constantly be learning new skills to help you access new areas in the map. Each area is usually crawling with Golems for you to dispose of. This is where The Knight Witch gets interesting.
Let the Chaos Begin
The combat is like a shoot ‘em up that is constantly going one million miles an hour. It is not uncommon for the screen to be almost entirely covered in dangerous flying projectiles. You must duck and weave around them as you add to the chaos by firing back your own projectiles.
Becoming overwhelmed is incredibly easy. It is sometimes impossible for your eyeballs to track everything coming your way. Taking your time and picking enemies off one by one is the best tactic to avoid death, but it isn’t always possible.
The Knight Witch doesn’t hold your hand when it comes to combat, especially at the beginning when it throws you straight into a boss battle. The art of combat in The Knight Witch is most definitely learned through trial and error. Over time, you will learn how to judge the distance of projectiles and how to dance between them.
There are lots of little tips and tricks that make combat much easier. Figuring out that you can dash through projectiles was a discovery that was second to none.
But That’s Not All
To add to the absolute mess of projectiles flying around your screen, you also have spells to manage. Casting spells uses mana. You can recover your mana by collecting the blue orbs that drop when you damage enemies.
Below your spell deck at the bottom right of your screen, you will spot your mana gauge. Each spell has its cost. Keeping track of your spells and mana while simultaneously dodging and weaving through enemies’ attacks can be challenging, but extremely satisfying.
Combat can be difficult. Especially if you become overwhelmed by enemies. In addition to dropping mana, enemies also give you a bit of cash in exchange for the trouble of killing them. You can use this to buy items to boost your health, defense, and stats. You will also collect more spells to add to your arsenal, which increases your power exponentially.
Fantasy Graphics with Music to Match
The Knight Witch is rendered in a whimsical and charming hand-drawn art style. The colors are so vibrant they practically burst right out of your screen. When combined with the adorable sprites and 2D format, The Knight Witch almost seems like you have fallen straight into the pages of a storybook.
The music matches the tone of the story perfectly. It has a very old-school mystical feel that is exactly what you would imagine a fantasy novel would sound like. The score certainly ramps up when you are engaging in boss battles though.
The BPM in these combat sections almost matches the speed of your eyes as they dart across the screen, desperately searching for an opening in the projectiles.
How Does It Run?
The Knight Witch performs wonderfully. And that is truly saying something! The entire screen can become completely saturated with enemies and projectiles. And yet, the frame rate remains stable. This is greatly appreciated. The combat requires such delicate movements that it would become almost impossible if the game was skipping frames.
It seems strange to say that a game performing well is surprising. But there can sometimes be hundreds of assets on screen at any given time, and The Knight Witch performs extremely smoothly despite that. It’s a game that requires precise gameplay that is only possible with a smooth performance, and it’s not let down in this department.
An Addictively Fun, Chaotic Adventure
If you are a fan of metroidvanias, precise combat, satisfying gameplay, and a whimsical storyline, you will love The Knight Witch. It is a thoroughly enjoyable adventure with a very addictive nature.
Many metroidvania games involve frequent deaths. This can become frustrating. But The Knight Witch nails that perfect balance between being challenging without feeling unachievable. This is a fine art that leaves you constantly coming back to get your butt beat because you know you can do it. This makes it all the more satisfying when you do.
When you walk away from The Knight Witch, you will be leaving with both a sense of accomplishment and a smile on your face. If you are looking for another metroidvania to add to your collection, hopefully our The Knight Witch review has made your decision a little easier.
The Knight Witch was played on the PC with a review copy provided by Team17.