PAX Australia 2017 Focus – Witch Thief

Prior to actually heading down to Melbourne for PAX Australia 2017, I was approached by Timothy from Cardboard Keep (a Canberra based team) to take a look at his upcoming title Witch Thief. He kindly supplied me with a preview copy of the game to test out on PC so I could spend some time with it before heading to PAX.

Touhou – Bullet Hell.

Witch Thief is an unabashed bullet hell title that sees you in control of a young witch on her quest. If you aren’t familiar with the term bullet hell, it’s essentially (and typically) a top down shooting game akin to Raiden, Tyrian, 1942 and the like, except that the screen is often literally filled to the brim with hundreds (thousands?) of bullets. Reflexes will only get you so far, and often you’ll need to memorise the bullet patterns to survive. Not only will you need amazing reflexes, but also a nearly endless supply of patience, as death will come often and without mercy. Timothy himself is a big fan of the Touhou series of games.

Unlike most traditional bullet hell titles that use a top down perspective, Timothy has pulled the camera down to make gameplay more interesting and exciting. For someone like myself – who has more experience with third-person action games than I do top-down shooters – this actually makes the game a lot more accessible. Not to mention the controls have a much more natural feel (we’ve all been using WASD for some time now).

This is a quiet bit. It gets a LOT harder.

As to the question of why a witch (and not a space ship or plane) for his video game, Timothy admits he’s a huge fan of witches – finding them, as well as bows, ribbons, and big dresses to be super cool. Alice in Wonderland was definitely an inspiration in the visual design of the game – not just in character design, but also in the slightly grim and off-beat world you explore in Witch Thief.

The final version of Witch Thief will have in the vicinity of six levels, but don’t be fooled into thinking that it’s a short game you’ll finish quickly. You’ll come face to face with multiple bosses, each with their own distinct attack style and pattern that you’ll need to learn and master in order to stand a chance. I myself am still unable to finish the first level, although I can now defeat the first boss by playing a little more defensively and evading more. One cool feature that the game will introduce is the ability to unlock those bosses for your own use, and allow you to replay the game all over again with new attacks and abilities. Neat.

Prepare for your first Boss fight!

I’m going to keep bashing away at my preview copy of Witch Thief and see if I can’t defeat the first level. While this won’t be a title for everyone, if you are a fan of bullet hell games, or are looking for something with a bit of a challenge, make sure you head over to the store page on Steam and add the game to your Wishlist.

Providing everything goes to plan we should see Witch Thief released Q1 or Q2 of 2018 for PC, Macintosh and Linux. Meanwhile, though, you should definitely check out Cardboard Keep’s other titles on Steam.┬áTheir first title Warden: Melody of the Undergrowth looks particularly awesome, being very reminiscent of classic Zelda titles with just a pinch of Dark Souls.

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