I do love a quirky concept. I’m a sucker for the kind of premise that someone dreams up after downing 9-pints and then finding a pen and a napkin. In the case of Trigger Witch, these witches have ditched fireballs and pulling cute rabbits out of hats for something far better: AK-47s. Nothing can make a problem vanish quicker than a hail of bullets, and so now witches accept firearms from the strange Ordinance Rift and become members of The Clip. Their old traditions and their magic fading into the past, they now worship at the alter of gunpowder.
You play as Colette, hopeful new member of The Clip. After making your way through the initiation trial you reach the strange rift and are blessed with a gun of your very own to cuddle and cherish, but an odd man in black also comes out of the portal and kick starts Colette’s adventure – as the newest member of The Clip she is dispatched to hunt down the intruder. That means venturing into the Goblin’s realm which has been sealed away behind an ancient magical barrier that has separated the two societies for hundreds of years. While the Goblin’s kept with their magic and traditions the witches moved onward and learned that the greatest type of magic is a flamethrower.
As a twinstick shooter the main thing Trigger With needs to nail is the controls, and it does it with aplomb. Moving with the left stick, aiming with the right, shooting and dashing all feel crisp. Input delay feels practically non-existent. That naturally makes running and gunning satisfying and fun. It’s like you and the controller are one, a perfect fusion of squishy human and plastic. Alright, that’s hyperbolic to a degree, but in all seriousness the controls do feel excellent.
That’s good because Trigger Witch is going to make you slaughter a hell of a lot of enemies and the solid controls do a lot to help fend off repetition. Sadly, it’s not quite enough because I did find Trigger Witch’s combat to start dragging its heels after a while, mostly because nothing changes. You get some new guns, many of which take a bit of exploring to find, and there’s a pretty basic selection of enemies, but the fights you have at the start of the game are largely identical to the ones you’ll be in at the end. This is bog-standard twin-stick shooting.
The fault might be with me. I just wanted a bit more from the combat, a dash of something spicy, a little magic. It’s less Hermione Granger and more Sarah the amateur magical you hired for your nephews 3rd birthday party. Aside from giving the combat a little more depth and variety, I think fights needed to be more spaced out, and have more emphasis on unique, interesting enemy types. None of the foes you fight are very memorable, something which can be said of the boss fights, too. They do, however, die in a glorious flood of blood, the red liquid quickly coating the floors of wherever you are fighting. Don’t worry, there’s a Pinata mode if you aren’t a fan of blood.
One cool combat idea is that only your hand cannon can be reloaded normally with a tap of a button. Every other gun reloads magically when it isn’t equipped, thus if you run out of rounds for your dual uzis you swap over to something else and wait for the bullets to be magically teleported into your weapon. This neat trick even gets a proper in-game explanation. It’s a solid idea that helps push you toward varying your weapon usage a little instead of relying on just one or two guns and sticking with them for the entire game. Out of bullets for the shotgun? Use the flamethrower instead, or the pistol.
The bulk of Trigger Witch is spent in the sprawling, multi-level dungeons packed with beasties and doors that require keys to unlock. For some people they might be a nice revisit of the classic days of adventuring, but to me it was an awful lot of furious backtracking through rooms already cleared to pick up keys and open doors. And while I did appreciate the fact that each dungeon tried to add a little something extra, like darkness or patches of slippy ice, their just visually boring places to be. There’s nothing in them apart from more and more enemies, and exploration is fairly limited.
The infrequent puzzles fare better, such as a great section that involves bouncing bullets around corners. Much like the gunplay, though, I do think a lot more could have been done with this portion of the game. Despite the quirky premise of Trigger Witch, it plays it super safe at every turn. Rainbite are clearly a talented bunch, so I hope we get to see them pushing themselves more.
Outside of the dungeons there’s a small world to explore. Killing foes and opening chests give you gems, and when combined with weapon parts can be used to upgrade your arsenal with more damage, bigger clips, a higher rate of fire and faster magic reload speeds. Be warned, though, because as you boost weapons the game can become even easier than it already is. There are options available for tuning how much damage Colette dishes out and receives to help fine tune the action, though, and I applaud those inclusions.
There’s a pleasant, old-school vibe to Trigger Witch. From the graphics to the structure of the whole adventure, Trigger Witch clearly has an abiding love for classics. Personally, the art-style doesn’t click with me, but I still think it’s a good looking game and the music is wonderful.
If I sound like I’m being too harsh you may very well be right. So let’s balance that out, shall we? Trigger Witch nails its length. The issues I have with the game never became substantially damaging because Trigger Witch didn’t drag out its runtime. Chances are you’ll wrap up the story in anywhere from 3-6 hours, with a few more hours if you want to chase everything down. So while the combat and the dungeons do drag a bit, they are never given enough time to get completely boring. Just when I was getting to the point of having had enough, the credits rolled.
And I have to give the game credit for excellent twist in the plot. It’s pretty obvious that the Ordinance Rift is not some natural phenomenon, but the developers took it in a direction I never saw coming. It was funny and engaging. So was the rest of the story, all told in the traditional style of portraits and text.It doesn’t take itself seriously, although I wouldn’t say it was a funny game, and features well-written characters and an intriguing world. Honestly, if less time was spent on shooting enemies and more on fleshing out the strange world I think Trigger Witch would have been better for it. Hell, turning it into more of an RPG could have been a great choice.
There’s not a lot more for me to discuss about Trigger Witch because it’s a straight-forward, simple game. For the vast majority of gamers I don’t think Trigger Witch is something that needs to be bought and played right this very instance. But for a certain group of people, it could be a fun prospect, the mixture of twin-stick shooting, pixelated graphics and fun premise adding up to an alluring brew.