With the season of Halloween on its precipice, a cavalcade of spooky games has made its debut. Chief to pique my interest in seasonal ethereal fare is Witchfire, an atmospheric, roguelike, first-person shooter set in what feels like Salem during the witch trials. Does the next project from The Astronauts (Vanishing of Ethan Carter) show promise or does it look doomed to burn at the stake?
Congratulations! The church is elated to enlist you as one of our elite witch hunters known as preyers. Using a range of tools from weaponry and relics to, well, forbidden magic, it’ll be your job to hunt down the evil spellcasters and the spectral hordes at their beckoning. It’ll be no easy task, though. There are countless foes in the employ of the enemy. As an immortal, you’ll have to chip away a little at a time. We’ll be happy to help better outfit you as you progress through your journey.
Witchfire takes a fascinating (and thematically dark) premise and builds something uniquely intriguing with it. You’ll initially be armed with a six-round flintlock pistol. From there, the church will help you research new weapons, powerful relics, and even magic spells to further reinforce you against the witches and their armies. As you play, you’ll be able to research a couple of items at a time. These range from close and long-range weaponry (like shotguns, sniper rifles, or assault rifles) to rings, amulets, and more.
You’ll undoubtedly meet your demise countless times in pursuit of the occultists and their officers. Take heart, though! Slaughtering enemies grants you currency. If you can extract through a portal and make it back to base, you can grow your health and skills, making you even more formidable. Clearing areas of enemies in each zone will grant you power-ups that last the rest of your run. These can range from increased damage to avoiding loss of currency through death and much more.
Currently in early access, the vast majority of the game will take place in only a couple of areas. If you can topple the witch’s officer in the first, you’ll be granted access to hunt her in her lair. There’s promise of several more zones being granted in the future, too.
For an early access game, I’m happy with what Witchfire offers. The variety of enemies you’ll face is substantial. The game offers a hearty assortment of upgrades to acquire, too. They even give you various side-quests with both possible boons (or curses) to get during each run. With Halloween right around the corner, The Astronauts decided to release this early access build for players at the right time of year, too. Despite the lack of narrative, Witchfire does an incredible job of giving players a creepy, engaging environment and building tension in a fun, gripping way.
Whether you enjoy roguelikes, first-person shooters, a creepy setting, the sensation of sustained growth, or just taking on a challenge, Witchfire is poised to give fans something to look forward to. At $40, I feel like there’s enough meat on the bone to be a worthwhile purchase. The team is already talking about beefy updates they’ll be rolling out in the weeks to come, too, so you know exciting things are coming down the pipe.
From a Christian perspective, I understand why a portion of our audience may be turned off by Witchfire. It dives heavily into darker themes including magic, necromancy, and pagan rituals (and all of that done on behalf of the church), which many may wish to avoid. If that’s not of particular concern to you, though, you should definitely keep an eye out for what’s sure to be an incredible experience in the future. Witchfire and the team at The Astronauts have me excited for what already feels like a fantastic game.