A wholesome maze-based first-person shooter presented in a retro style, this is a low cost Ratalaika digital download that is approachable, pleasant, and refreshingly simple.

Taking place in a magical, fantasy environment, it is your job to find a few magical staffs, some keys to unlock doors, and navigate your way through a labyrinth of tight corridors. Oh yeah, and some nasty old witch turned you into a pig.

When I first fired up Witch Rise, the first thing I did was access the Options menu so I can set the Y axis to invert. Not seeing this option, I immediately freaked out thinking this was going to be another FPS that is unable to me because I need inverted controls. Then I started playing and was surprised that this is a FPS that doesn’t require the need to look up or down. It still uses the dual analog stick control scheme but there is no verticality.  This might sound limiting on paper, but makes the quest uncomplicated and the end result doesn’t feel like it is missing anything. If you think back to the earliest first-person shooters, they didn’t have verticality either and those are considered classics and still played today.

There is not much environmental puzzling solving. Instead, progression is more Metroidvania as certain items are required to unlock doors, gaining access to previously inaccessible areas. Thankfully, there is a map feature to provide direction. Used in combination with a compass, the player can keep track of location and which areas have yet to be explored. Without this map/compass feature, it would be nearly impossible to navigate since each room is tight and background tiles look the same.

Combat is also simple but can be frustratingly limited at times. The starting sword has a very short attack range but can be used without an endurance meter. Eventually, magical staffs will be collected that shoot ranged attacks but are kept in balance with a cool down timer. For the most part, enemies are mindless and can be cheesed once you learn their attack patterns. But with each kill, the player earns XP which eventually unlocks more hit points. Gold is also collected from defeated monsters which can be optionally spent inside shops. So even though enemies annoyingly respawn each time you reenter a room, they always give the player something in return for fighting them. Depending on the room, it could be possible to just run around them too. There are also a few boss battles and will test your ability to circle strafe as any good FPS does. Thankfully, the player restarts just one room away should you fall victim to an enemy’s attack, respecting the player’s time and effort.

Personally, I have a soft spot for the chunky pixelated visual presentation and find it quite charming. The soft, majestical setting also looks like you are playing a retro storybook, complete with generic skeletons, spiders, and slimes. I thoroughly enjoy this visual style and find it rather refreshing when paired against the constant realistic looking AAA titles. 

Witch Rise is a pleasantly joyful two-hour romp through a dozens of pixelated corridors. The simple approach to gameplay, welcome mapping system, and basic RPG mechanics help set aside the mildness of the combat. It is a quality, enjoyable retro first-person shooter that hits several high notes with the right amount of quality especially for a title that only costs five bucks. Achievement hunters will also want to take note as it doesn’t take much to boost your Gamerscore with this one. Firmly recommended. 

SCORE: 8/10

Also Play: Fashion Police Squad

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Wait For It: Project Downfall

By: Zachary Gasiorowski, Editor in Chief

Twitter: @ZackGaz

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