Metroidvanias are one of the most common types of games you’ll find in the indie space, which can make it hard for any individual to stand out from the masses. I imagine this will be less of a problem for the new Team17 published title The Knight Witch, thanks to the interesting mix of the Metroidvania, and the shoot’ em up genres that developer Super Awesome Hyper Dimensional Mega Team (what a name) have come up with.
The first thing you’ll most likely notice about The Knight Witch is the beautiful hand-drawn art style. The character designs are cute and the environments look magical. The combination of nature and machinery works well and makes for a nice aesthetic. It all comes together to create a world that looks fantastic. I just wish the different areas would look a little more unique.
For the gameplay, The Knight Witch has created a good mix of the Metroidvania structure with elements from classic shoot ’em ups. Navigating the world feels good, and the added traversal options as the game progresses are fun, but most of the time can’t be used outside of the specific sections they were created for. Meaning that you don’t use them often outside of the area they are introduced in, which was obviously built for that mechanic, and your general way of moving throughout the environments doesn’t really change as the game goes along.
The combat is fast-paced and rewards fast reflexes. If you don’t have an overview of every enemy surrounding you, and more importantly, every bullet fired from an enemy coming towards you, you will be dead very quickly. There’s also a card system that adds a little depth to the combat. As you progress, you unlock more cards, which represent special abilities. You can then equip a certain amount of them at a checkpoint and randomly draw three of them that you can use. Once you use one, a new random card that you have equipped is added to the three available to you.
Now let’s talk about the story…
Once upon a time in the world of The Knight Witch there was a big war. Long story short, a couple of rich people almost destroyed the world in an attempt to get even richer. But luckily, the four knight witches, a group of fighters that get stronger the more people believe in them, were there to protect everyone and managed to defeat the threat. In the process, the surface world became uninhabitable, but during the final battle, a hole into the surface of the planet was created that revealed an underground world where people can now live in peace.
Many years later, a new threat appears, and in the heat of the chaos, Rayne, a sister of the knight witches who was rejected to fight in the original war, is promoted to become the fifth knight witch. Ready to prove that you’re worthy of the title, you join the fray.
The Knight Witch draws parallels to the real world at every turn. It’s a game loaded with themes. Late-stage capitalism, celebrity culture, the corruptive effect of power, and many more. As a result, The Knight Witch ends up feeling very bloated with too many things going on, and a lot of the individual themes aren’t explored enough.
For example, after every big mission you accomplish, you get interviewed by your PR Manager to tell the world about your heroic acts. Here you get to choose between telling the often hard truth, or telling easy lies. Since you receive levels based on how much the people of the world believe in you, lying will often get you better rewards, but… well, to be honest, I’m not even sure what the downside is supposed to be. Beyond being a bad person, I guess.
This embodies what I believe to be the general problem of The Knight Witch‘s writing. There are interesting ideas at play here, but they don’t do much with them.
Nevertheless, while The Knight Witch is far from perfect, it offers an enjoyable couple of hours due to some solid fundamentals in the gameplay.
Nairon played The Knight Witch on PC with a review copy. The Knight Witch is also available on Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X|S.