The Knight Witch is a bullet hell Metroidvania from Super Mega Team in which you fight to rescue the last surviving underground city from a mechanical golem invasion.
You float in any direction with the left stick and aim with the right stick, or you can auto-aim in exchange for lowered damage by shooting without aiming, which is good for hectic situations. Down at the bottom-right corner of the screen where you can hardly afford to look are your spell cards, which you can equip and cast for energy dropped from shooting enemies.
This combines for tense, risky combat, where you shoot enemies to generate magic while also moving to pick up the energy, use your magic to protect yourself or damage enemies, and repeat while dodging incredible amounts of bullets.
As far as Metroidvanias go, The Knight Witch is mostly linear, with some doors for extra upgrades locked behind abilities you don’t have yet and times you have to return to an area for a new objective. It ends up feeling like a chore to backtrack since there are only minor upgrades to find, you can’t teleport to enough locations, and you don’t feel like you’re exploring and finding your own path.
You’re given powerful and exciting tools to deal with projectiles — cards that act as protection, the ability to teleport through projectiles, and attacks to stop them from appearing at all — and the game takes that as license to throw so many at you that it’s practically impossible to not get hit sometimes. The game is incredibly frustrating when you take damage that doesn’t feel like your fault, especially because the game is stingy with health pickups, sending you into fights without guaranteeing that you’ll have full health and not dropping health during fights.
The game has no penalty for dying except sending you back to the last checkpoint. But these checkpoints aren’t necessarily near the fight you lost, meaning you can spend upwards of 30 seconds getting back, potentially losing health to enemies that have respawned along the way.
Your deck allows a little customization of your playstyle without being too in depth, with a variety of offensive and defensive cards that can change the way you approach enemies.
The optional final boss that gets you the good ending is egregiously hard, to the point that I ended up cheating to get through, which I did by brute-forcing the in-game cheat codes menu. I honestly would have quit the game here if not for review, because I hate when the good ending is locked behind a completely unfun extra challenge. You can opt out of the boss for a worse ending, but that sucks, especially when the game’s other bosses are interesting and fair.
The story is better written than in most indie games, and although it’s pretty obvious who’s evil from the start, the game takes a humanistic approach to its characters and world that makes it feel deeper than the simple tale it otherwise is. The hand-drawn art is also sharp, smoothly animated, and beautiful. There’s little to criticize about the presentation overall, with the soundtrack ranging from good to great and the sound effects rounding out the game well.
Despite all my complaints, The Knight Witch is great, albeit with some flaws that prevent it from being a truly excellent game.
If you hate bullet hell games or frustratingly hard fights, The Knight Witch might not be for you. But if you’re looking for a well-designed, difficult action game, this is a highly polished and exciting option.
The Knight Witch releases November 29 on Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4 and 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X and S, and PC for $19.99.
Watch the Review in 3 Minutes for The Knight Witch.