The Knight Witch is a metroidvania, deck-building game in which you take control of Rayne. Rayne is, or rather was supposed to be, a Knight Witch who fought for the people during a great war. Instead, she was left behind as four other witches set off to defend their home. Years later, in an unprecedented attack, Rayne must gather her nerves and defend her loved ones as danger looms over her home once again.
The game begins with a short play through of the final moments of the first great war. This is played from the perspective of Robyn, the hero of that war. This section introduces the gameplay mechanics and the world of The Knight Witch. Once finished, you take the reins as Rayne.
Some more standard tutorializing follows before the idyllic day of celebration is ruined, as it so often is. From here you begin your journey as Rayne, fighting through rooms of enemies, gathering cards, and rescuing people.
The card element side of The Knight Witch is rather interesting because most deck builders use the roguelite approach. Each card represents a spell, with a number associated with it that signifies the cost to use. You build your deck out with cards and always have three available. When one is used, another takes its place and so on. Mana is gained either from unique cards or from damaging enemies, which then drop blue orbs. You also have a standard attack which can be upgraded with spells or power ups that can be found in some areas.
The way you upgrade your abilities is through your “link.” The link represents the Knight Witch’s connection to the people. You see, the more people believe in a Knight Witch, the stronger they become and this means every person you meet and save will bolster your strength. I like this because it incentivizes taking time to action the small side quests that are present throughout the game. It also creates an in-universe reason for how the leveling system works, which is always fun to see.
Throughout the game, the relationships between Rayne and other characters serve as a driving force for not only the plot, but how strong she is. What starts off as a rather simple premise develops over the course of several hours into an engaging and well told story. Gameplay mechanics are seamlessly intertwined with the plot which makes everything flow in a cohesive and structured manner.
Overall, I love the design and gameplay of The Knight Witch. The levels are well-crafted (with one exception), the music is great, and the plot is engaging and well told. That being said, there are a few issues. First, I’ll loop back to the level design comment.
There are five main areas in the game, each one features sub-regions and all of them have a unique design and feel to them. I genuinely enjoyed exploring these areas, rescuing characters, solving the small puzzles, and taking in sections of intense platforming. The one exception to that is found in the third area that is explored. The goal is to restore a water flow to the area, which is enough to make any gamer shudder; clunky water sections are never fun.
Of course, the hope is to be pleasantly surprised and have the water section not involve any actual swimming or canned water elements. But all too often that’s not how things work out. The Knight Witch sadly falls into that same camp.
The first portion of the level is fine. It’s not until water is restored, and the route back is flooded, that things begin to go awry. At this point, you must use submarine bays to enter a submarine and navigate through the water. The caveat being that you can only attack horizontally, and you can no longer dodge. The combat in this section is a lot less satisfying than it is in the rest of the game, and it’s another example of why water themed sections don’t need to feature water themed navigation elements.
It’s a shame that an entire level has been dedicated to this, especially when there are much more satisfying things the development team could have played with. In fact, one of the best designed areas in the game is an optional challenge, as in the second area you must recover rose medallions. During this section there are items that are destroyed if you take any damage. So you must navigate past traps without getting hurt.
At one point, there is a room with stationary and moving lasers that need to be dodged to progress the main plot. This room is very easy to navigate, but at the end of it, there is another optional room to explore. This second room features more lasers, in more complicated positions with faster movement. It is much more challenging, but in turn, incredibly satisfying to make it all the way through to the end. But it is short-lived and there really aren’t any other challenge rooms like it in the game. That’s unfortunate because more mobility challenges instead of just combat challenges would’ve really diversified the whole The Knight Witch gameplay experience.
The second gameplay related issue that makes things a bit harder to enjoy are the inconsistent difficulty spikes. The Knight Witch, for as cutesy as it is, is a challenging game. The ambush rooms where you have to fight several waves of enemies are difficult. Some are even more difficult than the boss of the area. The biggest spike in difficulty though is the game’s final, final boss.
If it wasn’t for the fact that there are cheats that you can activate to make the game easier, this review would probably never come out because I’d still be stuck on that last boss fight. It is tough. Especially since there is no way to heal during fights and there are no options for decreasing difficulty outside the cheats. If you like a challenge, The Knight Witch will sort you out; possibly much more than you might expect or be prepared for.
The last issues are just some minor bugs that, whilst not ruining The Knight Witch, still need highlighting. They could certainly do with being patched. The most glaring is that any enemy that uses the boomerang bullets is glitched, as the boomerangs float in place indefinitely. It is odd because you do get access to the same attack, and it works just fine when the player uses it.
On the whole though, the gameplay is addicting, and I found myself willingly exploring the world of The Knight Witch, trying to do as much as possible. While the final boss is one that would’ve probably kept me playing a lot longer than I’d want to, the rest can be overcome just fine. In fact, the challenging fights feel good, and the puzzles that are placed throughout the areas are well-crafted.
I could’ve done without a water section, but thankfully that is only a small portion of a game that will give you upwards of ten hours of gameplay. That’s a good length too and means that nothing drags on unnecessarily. The world of The Knight Witch is vibrant and well-crafted – if you’re open to a challenge, then it’s worth looking past the few shortcomings.
The Knight Witch is on the Xbox Store