Oh dear, Medusa is running amok tormenting the kingdom’s citizens (I think she is cranky because there isn’t a salon in the land willing to style her serpentine locks.) Whatever shall we do? I know, let’s hire a mighty knight (Hero) and a sorceress who likes pointy hats (Witch) to smack some sense into her. That was the plan anyway, but alas things didn’t quite work out. Witch was transformed into a statue during the skirmish and Hero only just managed to escape from the battle, after being beaten to a pulp. It was the biggest hammering since Rousey clashed with Holm. Ah well, never mind – time for a rematch! Eager to annul the stone curse on his companion (and claim the bounty on Medusa’s petrifying head) Hero sets off in this retro styled 3DS adventure.
Witch and Hero is a Nintendo eshop title that has players controlling the titular pair across twenty action packed levels. The objective of each stage is to survive against waves of hostile mythical creatures (including slimes, skeletal undead and flying sharks) until the boss monster you need to subjugate appears onscreen. Due to her granite condition, Witch cannot defend herself against Medusa’s minions – so Hero is tasked with protecting his partner from harm. If too many fiends strike the female spell caster she will be reduced to rubble, signalling a Game Over.
If memorizing complex combos is the bane of your existence then Witch and Hero is the game for you. The simplistic combat system only asks that Hero bump into an opponent in order to damage them (akin to the early Ys games.) Whacking a foe in this manner also harms Hero so whenever possible it is encouraged that you strike enemies from behind, as doing so negates your target’s counter attack. Hmmm, hitting someone whilst their back is turned doesn’t sound very heroic Mr Hero. Underhanded tactics must however be employed because whenever Hero’s health depletes to zero he will collapse on the ground for a few seconds, leaving the hapless Witch completely exposed.
A solitary warrior versus a legion of monsters doesn’t seem fair, so be sure to pick up the spoils of war to even up the odds. Defeated enemies drop potions that restore health in addition to experience orbs and gold. Accumulate enough experience and Hero will level up, making him a sturdier chap via a modest increase to his health points. On the flip side, coinage harvested from corpses can be spent on beefing up your attack, defence and movement speed. Another thing worth mentioning is that slain enemies will discharge blood. Collecting sufficient quantities of this bodily fluid will cause Witch to reanimate briefly, allowing her to pelt assailants with fireballs and enchanted tornadoes. Thanks for the assist Witch, but what’s the deal with this fondness for blood? I thought you were a magician not a vampire.
My rating for Witch and Knight is three stars. Although I enjoyed this game, it may be advisable to try out the demo before making a purchase. Based on other reviews I have read this is one of those titles you will either love or hate. Some critics have been harsh on how repetitive the gameplay is and how the difficulty ramps up, forcing you to grind on earlier stages to level up your character. It wasn’t an issue for me though; especially when you consider that the game is designed for play in short bursts. Perhaps the disparate opinions can be attributed to a player’s age? Young whippersnappers may find the primitive 8-bit graphics to be hideous, whilst an old fogey such as myself finds them to be charming.
In terms of value Witch and Knight can easily be beaten in a day. Not an issue though, when you consider that the asking price is less than £4.00. There’s some replay value too as besting the story unlocks a harder campaign, time trial and survival mode. The combat may be shallow, but it isn’t without strategy. Deciding when to chug a potion, what order to tackle enemies and when to activate Holy Blade (a late game skill that makes Hero momentarily invulnerable) will determine your success or failure. The only frustrating thing about Witch and Hero was how many times it took me to vanquish the final boss. Here’s a tip – don’t go into the encounter if you are inebriated. You stand no chance of beating Medusa if you are “stoned.”