One of my favorite games on the 3DS eShop is a game called Witch And Hero and its sequels. Not only is the pixel art super adorable, the gameplay is insanely addicting. Why is this important here? Well, developer Draw Distance took the overall gameplay mechanics of Circle Entertainment’s title, only layering it with a much more mature theme while ramping up the difficulty to insane proportions.
You play as a western gunslinger in charge of protecting a witch that sits in the middle of an arena. The witch needs time to complete a ritual and it is your job to protect her from the constant onslaught of enemies. Armed with a revolver of six shots, the player uses twin stick controls to deal well placed one-hit kills to each enemy. However, it is very important to point out this is not a run-and-gun shooter. Instead, the player needs to point the cursor in the direction of the enemy then pause for about one second to lock-on for a headshot. Getting trigger happy takes a few shots to fell each enemy, something that really is a life and death mechanic, so it is important to take that extra second to create that one-shot, one-kill hit.
The biggest issue with this dark, action title is the ridiculously high difficulty. If I am being honest, I could not beat level 2 even after a dozen attempts. I actually went back and completed all the bonus objectives in the initial stage to earn just enough to unlock the first perk but that doesn’t help when the player is severely outnumbered from all sides. At this point, gameplay is way more frustrating than entertaining and it is actually unfair. If this was a two player co-op experience, I still have doubts most players would be able to complete even these early stages.
Even with the dark atmosphere, the story is presented in a dumbed down way. The lack of voice acting and animation leaves the experience feeling a bit empty and unfinished. It also doesn’t help that the game features frequent long load times. Further, gameplay is presented in a top-down perspective but this makes navigation confusing as parts of the environment are sometimes interactive and sometimes not. This is amplified by the fact that the dark environment doesn’t help separate what is shadow and what is a barrier.
Ritual – Crown of Horns isn’t necessarily a bad game, just a brutally unbalanced one. There are some interesting gameplay mechanics in place here but the unfair difficulty will undoubtedly annoy and frustrate players. Instead, I will work on protecting my cute and friendly witch in the Witch And Hero games.
Not As Good As: any of the Witch And Hero games (3DS eShop and Switch eShop)
Also Try: Read Dead Redemption
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