Witch Thief is the latest attempt to take such classics as Smash TV and Robotron and update them with a 3D coat of paint, all the while colliding them with twitchy Japanese shoot ‘em ups. Question is, is it a Sabrina-style reimagining, taking something old and twisting into something new and fun, or is it more like Grotbags, with all the production value of a high school pantomime?
Being a witch and all, the protagonist floats around a map, moving between gated rooms. Enemies soon appear, with different colours of enemies having different attack patterns. Some throw bullets, some spawn fire, and some go wild with laser beams. Kill all the enemies in a room and you’re onto the next one. There are boss fights to break things up too, with the bosses sending out often fearsome patterns of bullets and lasers.
There are a few different weapons in your arsenal to even the odds. The main weapon, somewhat predictably, has unlimited ammo. You also have a dodge move, a focus mode (which slows down time) and some spells. Spells are consumables, so it’s a good idea to use them sparingly for when you need to get out of trouble. They’re also delightfully overpowered. Basically, if Witch Thief were up against Voldemort, she wouldn’t need to find seven books to destroy him.
It’s nice to see a game try something new, and it’s especially nice to see an indie game on Switch with fancy 3D visuals. The presentation is nice and chunky, too, which even holds up well in docked mode. The only compromise comes in variety. Most enemies are colour swapped versions of the same model. The framerate is also a little uneven, collapsing when using magic with a lot of enemies on screen.
None of this really matters, though. The key with all shooters is the feel of the shooting. A good shooter lets you know the impact of your shots, making you feel the tension. Unfortunately, Witch Thief’s shooting is as soft and flimsy as they come.