Tons of credit must be given to Sometimes You and Pigeon Dev Games for releasing one of the last games to be commercially available on the PlayStation Vita.
Witchcrafty, a Metroidvanai-lite, feels like it is the younger brother of Sometimes You’s other favorable platformer, Sir Lovelot, while incorporating the wonderfully composed techno-y tunes of Explosive Jake. Although this style of game should play well on the Vita, some unfortunate corners have been cut and could be the result of the rushed deadline to submit final builds to Sony’s digital store.
Playing as a pink Witch, the player must jump, dash, and battle her way through a number of interconnected single screens. Sometimes backtracking is required to open that gateway with a newly unlocked item – this is a Metroidvania but each section is divided into their own stage. Eventually fire, ice, and lightning abilities will be unlocked and can be used for offensive attacks or environmental puzzle solving. Crystals are littered all over the place too. These can be collected and eventually spent to upgrade abilities, a welcomed RPG feature.
Witchcrafty has plenty of potential to be a pleasurable platformer but there are some many small missteps that drastically make the gameplay suffer. Sure, the cutesy animations are great and the soundtrack is even better but load times are unreasonably long (I actually thought my Vita froze booting up for the first time) and the default control scheme is confusing with no way to customize it. X jumps, which is fine, but O is the main attack button. Square is reserved for the special magical abilities but should have been swapped with the O button. Triangle dashes but feel as though it would have made more sense to assign it to a shoulder button.
Something as simple as dropping through a platform is tedious and random. Pressing down causes the witch to start the dropping animation but it doesn’t always work. In fact, you might need to press down a few times before it actually happens. Going up, the opposite platforming direction, actually causes a game breaking bug. Early in the second stage, for example, the player can choose to go right or down. Going down leads to a dead end so the player will need to come back to the start. However, jumping up through the platform doesn’t work as the Witch cannot finish the jump on the other side when the screen transitions. The only way out was to restart and not go that direction. It is also easy to get stuck on the edges of platforms and the font is much too small for the Vita screen.
The level of difficulty is also a problem. Players who enjoy a stiff challenge might get a kick out of the two-hit deaths, but the average player will get discouraged with the lack of health restoring items and checkpoints that are spaced much too far apart. Needed to recollect items upon death is also a mega turn off. This is a difficult game, something that the adorable visuals would not lead the player to believe.
With a little more time, Witchcrafy could have been the swansong for the Vita digital library. Instead, the final rush feels rushed and incomplete. Hopefully a patch will come along and fix these issues because I finished Sir Lovelot and desperately seeking something similar and something more – something that Witchcrafty has thanks to Sometimes You and Pigeon Dev.