A twin-stick shooter that feels similar to a classic Zelda title, Trigger Witch plays like a forgotten SNES game. The goofy story, cartoony visuals, and simple but action oriented gameplay mix well to create an unexpected, entertaining adventure.
Colette has been educated in the school of triggery and the opening segment is the final exam to graduate and it just so happens your mom is the teacher. Do not let the adorable witch hat mislead you. This is not a game about casting magical spells and concocting potions. Gunplay is the focus here and even your mom wants you skilled in this exciting field. The juxtaposition of a witch becoming skilled as a gunslinger as opposed to magic is humorous in and of itself and the story only gets crazier from there.
Once the opening tutorial gives way to the main narrative, the experience really started giving me Link’s Awakening vibes. The overworld is big yet compact, filled with multiple pathways, detail, and secrets. The map screen is highlighted with icons to provide direction, again, just like a classic Zelda title. As fun to traverse as the overworld is, the dungeons are the highlight. Filled with environmental puzzles, the pacing never becomes overly difficult making the experience more casual. Unlocking that next area often involves shooting a switch using the typical twin-stick controls so progression involves aiming skill just as much as creative thinking.
Combat is also RPG-like. Whether navigating the overworld or making your way to the boss, the common enemy will often appear and in small packs. These are the random battles that provide substance as it gives the player something to shoot and collect since defeated baddies yield goods that can be used to increase the Colette’s abilities. Unlocking that next upgrade will take some time which is the game’s way of making you kill every common enemy even if you just want to speedrun your way through the quest. Dungeons also have a clever checkpoint system. Outfitted with a number, the player can instantly warp to any unlocked checkpoint station which reduces the tedium of backtracking. The Metroid-like map also works to the player’s favor by indicating where you need to go and where you have not been.
The control scheme is also typical for a twin-stick shooter and works well here. The pistol never runs out of ammo but takes a couple seconds to reload. Eventually, new weapons will be unlocked, like a machine gun, that shoots rapid fire but isn’t as strong. Thoughtfully, the player never has to worry about restocking ammo as each gun has an infinite amount. However, the secondary weapons have a cool down time before they can be reloaded so players never have to be concerned with ammo conservation. Swapping weapons is also easy and the dash move takes the place of a jump mechanic, allowing player to glide over traps and incorporate speedy escapes from enemy attacks.
From a screenshot, Trigger Witch might look like a SNES game but it is actually more than that. Although sprite-based, Colette, NPCs, and even enemies rotate fluidly and look great in motion. Sure, Colette holds her revolver at a super weird angle but that actually adds to the visual charm. As cartoony as this game looks, complete with bright colors and whimsical characters, it can actually be quite violent which also adds to the humor. Enemies don’t simply die and kneel over – they explode with vicious blood splatters! At times, the game changes from a twin-stick shooter to a typical vertical shooter where the playable witch flies on her broomstick. Here, the backgrounds loop a bit much but the brief change in gameplay is welcomed. The soundtrack is also pleasant and works well with the cutesy visual style.
My biggest complaint comes in the form the random battles with the common enemy. After killing your 50th blob monster in a row, it starts to get a little tedious and wish there was some additional enemy variety. Also, whenever the player switches direction, the screen swings loosely. At first, it actually made me a little seasick but eventually got used to it. So if you are sensitivity to camera movement, be warned.
There is a lot to like in Trigger Witch and is another quality title by EastAsiaSoft. At the same time, I can’t help but wonder what would happen if Nintendo adopted the twin-stick mechanic into a top-down Zelda title. Imagining a co-op Four Swords Adventure in this style puts a wondrous smile on my face. If Halo (check out the two Spartan Assault games) and Tomb Raider (play the Lara Croft twin-sticker titles), then why not other popular franchises?
Also available on Switch and PS4.