• FrankieW

Game Review #273: Witch Thief (Nintendo Switch)

Reviewer: FrankieW

Developer: Cardboard Keep

Publisher: Cardboard Keep

Category: Action, Bullet Hell

Release Date: 4.19.19

Price (at time of review): $19.99



Buy Witch Thief from the Nintendo Switch eShop here.


More Bullets than you can count

Massive walls of bullets mixed together with cute magical girls is not something I’m unfamiliar with; surprisingly, they go together like peanut butter and jelly! Touhou is Queen of that, popularizing the genre of bullet hell with its unique aesthetic choices and cute characters. I would have to say that Witch Thief is fully aware of this and embraces the established tropes, while making an experience that is well-put-together, with more than enough of its own content to warrant a play, as well as a lesser-seen spin on the genre that it occasionally uses in fun and unique ways! Let’s get more into the witchy bullet hell, Witch Thief!


A Lot of Ways to Play

Born from the genre of shoot ‘em ups, bullet hells are about figuring out your way through all-encompassing waves of bullets that will quickly fill your screen, while you also figure out the best way to damage the boss as well. There are tons of quick reactions needed, like in shoot ‘em ups, but I feel the main hurdle is recognizing bullet patterns and adapting to ways to survive them. There is absolutely something to be said for the feeling you get when you finally figure out that perfect rhythm that has you weaving in and out of tiny balls of death, while chipping away at a boss’ health, getting its bar down to nothing and… another form, a crazier bullet pattern and many more deaths await!


It's certainly a genre for the masochist, but Witch Thief helps out the casual player by offering multiple different difficulty modes. You can choose from the “chill” mode, which has infinite lives and such, all the way up to “Insanity” mode, which is going to have you dealing with MORE and FASTER bullets! It's nice to have the option for those who don’t have the skill or patience to get to the later levels of the game, but some of us LIVE FOR IT, and won’t use it—like me!



You will have a variety of different kinds of attacks—which you can also upgrade if you stack them— and you have a dodge move to help you get through tough moments as well! Each of the different characters has a different “spell” which acts as your bomb, and will, in most cases, clear the board of bullets or protect you in some way. Having the different characters is a nice little addition, because you can experiment until you find the one that saves your butt better than the others.


Can’t They All Just Be A Boss?

Your levels will have you trekking through some basic enemies before you get to the main attraction: the bosses. Part of me wishes it was just bosses, because the basic enemy parts are generally either too easy, or they are a match made in hell in terms of the enemy composition. Either way, they won’t impede your progress for too long before you get to the meat of the game.



Each boss in this game, mini or otherwise, is going to be coming at you with multiple phases of attack patterns—and does it get crazy sometimes! This game features full control over your 3-D camera, rather than having you be stuck with an above view like in most games of its genre, and it will help you to sometimes get a different angle on the incoming attack, helping you figure out the best way to dodge it. Your levels are accompanied by fairly basic 3-D graphics, but considering the amount of action going on on-screen due to the bullet hell, I can understand that.


The characters are all distinct and look different, and the bullets’ attack ranges are easily identifiable. Part of me wishes I had a way to just show my hit box on-screen for those REALLY intense moments. Each stage and character has their own unique theme that fits into the original soundtrack this game brings to the table, and that's a fun little twist. Some fun tunes are hidden in here, but you might not be able to hear it over the sound of your anger as you fight that boss just ONE MORE TIME, and you ALMOST HAVE IT FIGURED OUT! Between having a story mode and a dungeon mode for quicker runs, there is a lot of content to take in here!



Wrapping Up

Witch Thief for the Nintendo Switch is a fun little romp for fans of bullet hells; and thanks to the wide variety of difficulty settings, it is both a great introduction to the genre, and a nice place to grit your teeth and hone your skill in the genre if you are feeling a little sick of Touhou. It was made by an awesome team, Cardboard Keep, who has made a few other cool games as well. I definitely suggest you check them out!


Score: 7/10


Buy Witch Thief from the Nintendo Switch eShop here.


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*Review Code Provided by Renegade PR

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