Witch Hunt (First-Person Flintlock Horror Pursuit)

 

Boy I struggled to figure out some sort of synonym for 'hunt' to title this, and 'pursuit' is all I had for today, but it's rather fitting for Witch Hunt. I wish I was a bit smarter while writing this, but I've had a long month of job interviews, conferences, and things other than playing games. Actually I'm lying I basically play games every day, and this one in particular consumed me for weeks until completion. Being that I played through Steam Link it was much harder than with a keyboard, so this undoubtedly has something to do with the amount of time I spent, but however you play it play it you must. Are you ready to legitimately hunt some monsters you freaks?

  

Witch Hunt comes to us from Andrii Vintsevych, who had two notable games before this one, including the bizarre Gynophobia, a first-person horror shooter revolving around a character with an abnormal fear of women (probably uber-feminists). Witch Hunt is similar in its feel, but a totally different story and style. In it, you play an unnamed witch hunter implied to be half-angel who has just made it on foot to a town called Bellville after his horse was attacked by "something big." You find out what that something big is pretty soon. After navigating the town and learning how to play, you are first tasked with killing "The Beast," a large, werewolf-type creature in the woods. The town is plagued by evil caused by the presence of a witch, and you have a variety of clues to find and tasks to complete to get to the big battle. The monsters you encounter include zombie dogs, giant spiders, shrieking ghosts, and other creepers.

 

 

What makes Witch Hunt so damn spectacular is the way it works. It's a FPS in the 18th century with flintlock guns as your primary weapons. Yeah, you have to load them by hand, which adds a layer of difficulty to the play. You also have a sword, and as you progress can buy different magical skills that aid in your hunt. Stress on hunt, because this game very cleverly captures what it's like to actually hunt, which I'm telling you from first-person experience since I slay peaceful forest creatures with a weapon just like this once a year. Further, it's totally nonlinear. Read that title again and understand the meaning? Though you have four primary enemies to track down in order over the course of the game, how you do this is totally up to you. You may focus on building up power, hide in wait, or jump right for the first boss. The "Sacrificial Tree" was particularly interesting; a giant, living tree that can hide within the density of the forest. Your primary tracking comes down to your heartbeat, which increases in speed as you close in on your prey, though you also have a cool skill called "Evil Sight," which allows you to see through your main prey's eyes, but it's limited in use.

  

Witch Hunt absolutely hangs and burns the atmosphere, without even the decency to put a hood on it. The music is primarily ambient until the final boss, so the concept of "the hunt" is tied into sound effects. Trees creaking in the wind, a random wolf howling, a distant spectral chant, moans of the undead; the programmer has done an incredible job emulating exactly what the game implies. The mystery of your identity and the story is minimal, but presents more than enough to frame the actual hunting you perform. As you slowly learn the terrain and how to kill, you develop a natural sense of your character, the environment, and your foes that perfectly captures the experience of track-and-kill, yet you're striking down the goddamned damned. Witch Hunt is a fully immersive experience that draws the player deeply to where your own senses are almost within the game itself. Much is left to your imagination, however, like the ending which only implies instead of explaining. It's Enlightenment-period Gothic themes and inventive creations (love that witch tossing her flame skulls), give a much-needed refresh on some tired themes. It's like if Hammer Horror made video games in the 1960s and weren't redundant it would probably be this. Currently on sale for Halloween, too, so take advantage of it.

 

Witch Hunt Official Steam Page

Written Stanley, Devourer of Souls

Witch Hunt
Andrii Vintsevych (developer, publisher)
4.6 / 5