Classic Puzzle Challenge for a Modern Age
Many moons ago in the ancient ages of the mid-to-late 90’s gaming was a much more simple affair. I have a plethora of memories of playing games where the only point was to navigate a character around a level using four direction keys and a jump button. Games like Loderunner: The Legend Returns was a game in that vein I spent a good amount of time playing. If I could send this game back in time to my younger self it would feel right at home.
The premise of the game is a simple one – using only movement, the ability to create a single ladder at will, and a basic attack, move around the stage, avoiding enemies while stepping on the grassy blocks to make flowers appear. As with any good game, there is more depth to it than appears at first glance. Said enemies come in a variety of flavors, each with their own movement patterns, vulnerability to attacks. Some of them launch ranged attacks while others will roam the stage to eat your flowers. Most enemies are immune to your basic attacks so you will be forced to rely on items you find in presents throughout the stage. Be warned – most of these items can harm you as easily as the enemies! (Don’t ask how I know this)
The art is, in a word, adorable. While not the most polished work, the characters, enemies, and backgrounds are full of life and make the game a treat (pun intended) to look at. This is made all the better with four playable characters (only two available at first). Each playable character has a unique basic attack – one attacks with a violent Sorting Hat while another wears a chicken on her head. Yes, it is as adorable as it is ridiculous.
Good Game at a Bad Time
In a rare move, Sweet Witches includes a feature that I have missed in recent years: couch co-op. For anyone that has not experienced it, there is an element of playing right next to your friend that you simply do not get with online play. By putting everything on a single screen already it is perfectly configured for this style of multi-player – no need for split-screen here!
The problem with this is two-fold. One is that there is no option for online play. This is a bummer because of factor two: COVID is a jerk. As much of the world is faced with the possibilities (or the reality) of being locked down again the ability to pop over to a friend’s house for a gaming session has gotten much harder. As such, I myself haven’t been able to get my hands on the multi-player aspect. But if you have someone in your house that’ll play it with you then more power to ya’!
Something for Mostly Everyone
Sweet Witches includes 3 game modes: Story, Versus, and Arcade. Story is pretty much what it sounds like – play through one of the two stories (from the stance of either the ‘good’ witches or the ‘bad’ witches) in a series of challenging levels. You have 5 lives and if you lose them all you have to start at the beginning of an area.
Arcade is billed as the “official speed-runner mode” because while it follows the same formula as story, you have 5 lives and that’s it – no continues. Given how surprisingly challenging the game is I’d be intrigued to see how someone does with a speedrun of it.
Versus is, presumably, Story mode that pits you against another player in trying accomplish the same goals. Having played other similar multi-player games before this is usually a fantastic bit of chaos. Though it can spark friendship-ending ire not unlike Monopoly, so play at your own risk. Given the previously mentioned multi-player challenges I currently face I have not actually been able to test this game out.
If you are looking for a game that is best played in little chunks then I’d say this game could be for you. Surprisingly challenging with some interesting depth make this a much more interesting game than it appears on the surface.
Unfortunately, the limited soundtrack and “same-iness” of the gameplay detracts from extended sessions of it. Granted, that could change based on how multi-player works out and with whom you are playing. But sadly, that was out of the scope of my ability to review.
- Charming art
- Challenging gameplay
- Tight controls
- Levels can feel “samey”
- Soundtrack is limited and can loop like a children’s TV show theme song
- Multi-player is local-only