Games

This Tiny Metroidvania Game Is the Real Witchy Shit You Crave

‘Witch - A Special Delivery’ rises above the average metroidvania.

by Bruno Dias
Oct 25 2017, 2:33pm

All images captured by author, courtesy Joellikespigs

The double-edged sword of using a well-worn trope is that you have to hit the mark pretty much perfectly. Things get done again and again in games because there is appetite for them; because people are not going to get tired, any time soon, of platformers, or progression mechanics, or pixel art. But you have to nail the execution. You have to do something that rises above all the middling attempts, because it can't rely on the strength of novelty.

Witch - A Special Delivery is the developer's first game, which makes it all the more impressive that it does nail the execution. The pitch of a short, cutesy pixel-art metroidvania isn't going to turn anyone's head immediately, but I implore you to try this game if you have any warm feelings for the format.

Metroidvanias are all about slowly mastering the environment, not just opening new segments of the map but new paths and strategies as you gain new abilities. Witch concentrates that feeling; it's a burst of joy. It uses its smallness to its advantage, compressing down the sprawling map of a Castlevania game down into a handful of screens; just enough to get its point across.

Because it's so short, it can make the power progression feel like a roller coaster. Every upgrade is significant, qualitatively changing how you move through the environment, and they all come in the span of about an hour.

Once you've gone through a screen once or twice, you'll likely have a new power to try the next time you return. The world's smallness facilitates that feeling of mastery—there's no in-game map because the whole game will fit in your head. But the paradox at play here is that, because you are advancing so quickly and changing how you move so dramatically, the world feels larger than it really is; different iterations of the same platforming section emerge very quickly.

The layout of the world, rather than relying on Metroid-style branching, loops around itself, reinforcing the alternate paths that are there to be found by the player. It's a smart piece of design which wouldn't hold up if the game didn't also ooze charm from every pore.

Your primary weapon is a bucket full of rock-hard Halloween candy. The items that you pick up don't vanish into an inventory, they float in a long line behind you, whipping around as you move and exaggerating the fluid motion of a platformer. The various power-ups could easily have just been lying around the game world, but instead they are given by NPCs which impart character and, again, charm on each one of those interactions.

The criss-crossing fetch quest structure of the game, too, is a clever tool to make even better use of its levels, pushing you to navigate different routes through the game. This is comfort food, it's a perfectly sweet execution of something we know very intimately; but don't be deceived by that. There's a great, smart design at work here.

You can play Witch - A Special Delivery on Itch.io.

Tagged:
WITCHES
GAMES
Metroidvania
Waypoint
Free Games
itch.io
non-commercial games
platformers