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Review

Review: Bullet Witch

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The announcement of a Bullet Witch PC port earlier this month was a pretty big surprise. After more that 10 years since the original Xbox 360 release, the decision to release the game on PC now is a little strange. And after finishing the game, we’re still not really sure why this was deemed worthy of another release at all.

Bullet Witch’s plot is incredibly simplistic, detailing the witch Alicia’s journey to defeat the demons that have driven humanity to near extinction. Alicia as a character is incredibly bland, something that is not helped by the monotone voice acting. Out of the entire cast, there are only two characters that have had any sort of effort put into their voice-overs. There is little reason to care for any of the cast during the story, something that the game’s incredibly short length makes even worse.

Gameplay fares little better, offering an incredibly bland third person shooter with a useless magic system tacked on. Alicia’s broom-themed gun has multiple different forms, though the default machine gun form is the one you’ll use for most of the game. Shooting is simple enough, helped by the addition of competent keyboard and mouse controls. Ammo is replenished using magic, which constantly regenerates when not in use, leaving you with an infinite amount of bullets to mow down enemies with.

The biggest problem with the guns is that shooting enemies is just not particularly satisfying. Bullets lack much visual impact and it can be hard to tell if you’re even hitting an enemy at all. The sniper-like gun form is the biggest offender here, since its bullet move at a snails pace for some reason. Most enemies also have incredibly long death animations that also cause them to fire their weapons, making them seem like they’re still alive for a few seconds.

On the subject of enemies, Bullet Witch only has a small handful of enemy types, none of which are interesting to fight. Demon soldiers are the most basic and frequent enemy type, offering little resistance thanks to their bad AI. They’ll often get stuck on objects or buildings, and most of the time they will just stand there waiting for you to kill them. The other enemies don’t fare much better, rarely managing to get an attack in before being killed.

Aside from being used to reload your weapons, magic can also be used for various elemental attacks and effects. Lightning is the one that ends up being used the most, mainly because it is the easiest way to destroy tanks. The big three spells you unlock all suffer from extremely long cast times that become annoying to sit though after the first time. Meteor, the last spell you unlock during the story, is more likely to kill you before any enemies thanks to physics objects killing you instantly if you’re hit by one.

The smaller spells you can unlock have little real impact either. These range from giving your bullets different elemental properties to throwing debris at enemies. The main issue with using spells is that none of them are more effective than just using your gun. You’re better off just using magic to reload and only using lightning when you’re forced too. If spells were faster and had more impact there would actually be a reason to use them, but as it stands even on harder difficulties the default machine gun is the most reliable weapon for most situations.

As we mentioned earlier, combat lacks any real punch thanks to the game’s weak visuals. This is something that applies to the game as a whole, as every stage is incredibly bland and looks dated even for a 360 game. Many areas feel like they took a generic map from another game and then just threw in enemies and barriers in at random, leading to some confusion when going through some areas. Having to fumble through poorly designed stages with little to no signposting isn’t fun.

If there’s one “positive” feature of Bullet Witch, it’s that a single playthrough only takes around 3 hours. This means that the game ends before you really get tired of it, but even then the abrupt ending with a poor final boss just leaves a bad taste in our mouth. It feels like Bullet Witch never really goes anywhere during its short playtime, only offering a handful of stages of bland shooter gameplay. There are extra difficulty modes to unlock, and a set of extra stages that just repurpose existing levels with new enemy placements, but there is little real incentive to play though the game again.

The port itself is… serviceable, offering only a handful of graphical options in the game’s launcher. Mouse and keyboard works well, though some of the spell keybindings are a little clumsy. Something that is noticeable early on is the extremely low resolution 2D sprites, which haven’t been updated at all. The spell menu also only shows 360 buttons, something that can be a little confusing to start with.

Conclusion

Bullet Witch is obviously a game made with a small budget and has a small price tag to match. But even then, it’s are too short and generally uninteresting to be worth a purchase. Those that want a budget third person shooter would be better off picking up any of the Earth Defence Force games, which do a better job of making a fun experience without any fancy visuals. At the end of the day, Bullet Witch is not a game that deserves a second chance on the PC.

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