Some games hint at their inspiration, while others are a love letter. The Knight Witch falls into the latter category, wearing its Metroidvania homage like a badge of honor. It’s blending of two additional genres only helps to strengthen the gameplay. The result is one of the better Metroidvania I’ve played in years. Yet my experience is a bit uneven, thanks to some frustrating difficulty spikes.
The story for The Knight Witch is as follows: a human corporation has greedily plundered all of the planet’s resources. Rather than cut their losses, they take things further, risking the planet’s life. A group of protectors known as Knight Witches comes to the rescue, defeating the evil corporation, saving the planet, and beginning an era of peace in newly discovered fertile underground tunnels.
Or so they thought.
Despite Feeling Generic, the Knight Witch’s Story Is a Pleasant Surprise
After a brief tutorial, we’re introduced to the main character: Rayne, a Knight Witch apprentice who finally realizes her life purpose. This is how the game introduces you to all of your powers and then, in typical Metroidvania fashion, takes them away from you. One new RPG-style mechanic is the life link you can power up by discovering people in the labyrinth-like caverns of Dungeonidas.
There’s also a neat little twist where you can tell some white lies to Dungeonidas’ population with the reward of a large boost to your life link, increasing Rayne’s strength. It ties in well with an otherwise passive and, at times, generic story.
The Knight Witch’s characters do most of the narrative heavy lifting. Rayne’s journey to believe in herself and find confidence shines through, and you end up following the same journey alongside her, thanks to the game’s two subgenres.
Beyond being a Metroidvania, The Knight Witch is also a bullet hell card-battler. Core gameplay nails the basics of a Metroid game; you’ll explore through levels, complete your mission, discover unlockables, and constantly backtrack to and from every room. Finding new power-ups is the key to progressing through previously thought unreachable areas.
The bullet hell and card-battler subgenres are, surprisingly, a perfect fit alongside the core gameplay. The core gameplay is pretty tried and true and doesn’t run any risks to the Metroidvania formula. As a result, things borderline turn stale as you progress through the game. The excitement quickly ratches back up thanks to the game’s difficulty and the enemy onslaught of bullets.
Until the game becomes a little too difficult, that is. Once you get into a groove, The Knight Witch throws you a curveball out of nowhere. Some of the pacing for its triggered encounters is off, too; the event’s start varies by what feels like 10-15 seconds. On one occasion, I used an ability that prevented the final enemy from spawning, meaning I couldn’t progress further through the game.
The Card-Battler Helps This Metroidvania Stand Above the Competition
Speaking of abilities, let’s talk about the third genre in the game: the card-battler. While it’s nothing too complex, tying your special skills to a small deck of cards adds another layer of strategy to the game. Half the game’s fun comes with tinkering with your deck for specific encounters. This helps turn the tide when the difficulty rises more than you expected.
Visually, The Knight Witch is an impressive, hand-drawn world that flows beautifully. Comparisons to Hollow Knight are inevitable, but a brighter color palette leads to a more inviting and optimistic atmosphere. The game’s characters are another example of this. They’re filled with personality, and I even chucked a couple of times from the game’s dialogue.
Playing the game on Nintendo Switch, the framerate felt steady, and performance was never an issue. Aside from the bug mentioned above, there was nothing else to complain about. For those playing on PlayStation or Xbox, however, an unintentional bug that makes the game far more difficult than intended was discovered at the literal last second, delaying the game’s release.
At the time of writing, the Steam and Switch versions are unaffected.
Update: The Switch version is also affected but the launch is not delayed.
In many ways, this is the perfect metaphor for my experience with The Knight Witch. I thoroughly enjoyed myself until things got a little too hot to handle for me. But after perseverance and determination, I kept trucking, celebrating my victories, and watching my confidence grow alongside Rayne.
The Knight Witch is a beautiful surprise for the end of 2022 and worth your time. If you want to play on Xbox or PlayStation, wait for the delayed launch. You’ll be rewarded with a remarkable experience.
The publisher provided a review copy for Nintendo Switch.