In the not too distant future humanity is close to extinction. Demons called Geists roam the earth intent on destroying the human race. Cities have crumbled, the world’s population is almost wiped out and civilisation as we once knew it is no more. There is hope however, in the form of a powerful witch named Alicia, who by using her Gunrod and magic struggles to stem the tide of evil and restore peace to the world once more.
But luckily for you, Alicia packs quite a punch between her Gunrod and magic spells you are more than capable of defending yourself. Which is a good thing because Bullet Witch is a very action oriented game; for the most part you are just running through the levels looking for the next big fight.
Once you find one then you have to find weapons to fight with, the first, the Gunrod acts like a regular gun, you have a reticule on the screen and you just aim and shoot. As you progress though the game you can buy upgrades for the Gunrod to make the gun stronger or get different types of guns. You can switch between these different types on the fly and you will have the Machine Gun, Shotgun, Cannon and Gatling gun to fight with. This seems pointless at times as they all seem to shoot the same, and have the same effect regardless of distance.
The shooting in the game feels like it was rushed a lot of the time. It is difficult to aim, even when zoomed in and there are some serious hit detection issues. With bullets sometimes going through solid objects or just not hitting the enemies at all.
As well as the Gunrod you also have the element that was supposed to set Bullet Witch apart from other games in the genre; magic. Being a witch you have a large arsenal of spells at your disposal. To be honest there is a lot of variation between the spells and they seem well thought out but most of them are either over or under powered. With the different types of spells you have a good choice to play around with. They are split in to three ‘tiers’ each one with more powerful spells. They include the ability to move things telekinetically, raise a wall to protect you from attacks, summon a flock of Crows to distract your enemies and the ability to add elemental damage to your Gunrod. Once you have enough magic stored you can use one of three ultra powerful attacks that will pretty much kill anything on screen, you get more powerful spells later on and they include lighting, a hurricane and a meteor shower. Although these spells look cool and do a great deal of damage they come with a price, they use up nearly all of your magic, leaving your without spells for a while.
Which brings me to the biggest flaw with this game’s magic system: magic limits? There is only a certain amount of magic that you can use at one time, and to get this limit up you need to kill enemies. The problem with this is that it is not a permanent increase, so you need to keep killing Geists in order to keep casting. I understand that this is so you do not over use magic but it is frustrating getting to a point in the level where magic is essential, such as a boss fight or a large group of enemies, and not being able to cast. By the time that you have gone around looking for enemies to replenish your magic you would have already taken a substantial amount of damage, or died. This was supposed to make you use magic strategically but instead it just takes away from the experience of the game, not being able to use magic when it is the focus of the game.
The Geists themselves are not very varied in terms of appearance or the way they act. You have the basic foot soldiers who carry around guns, there are Geist who float around and create barriers that block you paths and there are Gigas, gigantic enemies that can withstand a great deal of damage.
Then there are the snipers, one of the most frustrating and unbalanced enemies I have seen in a game. They are a one hit kill and they never miss, so you either have to use the barricade spell or get to cover quickly. It is not a nice feeling when you fight through a level for the better part of thirty minutes only to be taken out by a single sniper shot, and have to start from the last checkpoint.
Aside from the regular enemies there are the boss fights, which often turn into a really impressive battle; they include battling a 20 foot long demon 10,000 feet in the air standing on top of an aeroplane. The last boss is especially good, lasting a good 20 minutes and really making you fight for victory.
The artificial intelligence (AI) in the game is simply atrocious; the enemies will either just stand there and get shot or return fire and miss completely. This is a shame as what should have been intense, magical fire fights turn into just standing there and holding the fire button. The AI improves slightly in the higher difficulty levels but not by enough.
Apart from combat there is not a whole lot to do in the game, except for walking from point A to point B, which is dull. The game lacks any form of way pointer, or even fails to give you objectives. This lack of direction means that you can get lost easily, and sometimes spend five or 10 minutes wandering around aimlessly looking for where to go.
When you manage to finish a level you are given a grade, which determines how many points you can use for upgrades. You can choose to upgrade the speed of Alicia’s health and Magic regeneration, the aforementioned weapons, as well as new and more powerful spells. The best part about this is that when you complete the game and choose to play it on a higher difficulty all of the points and upgrades earned on the last play through carry over to the new game, so you don’t have to start all over again.
The game is short, to say the least. The measly six missions, clocking in at around 30 – 40 minutes each will not last you very long, so if you don’t want to finish all the difficulty levels you will be done with the game in a matter of hours, which is disappointing to say the least. The story doesn’t do anything to draw you in or develop the characters, so it just feels like you are killing for the sake of it, which makes the game lack a sense of purpose.
Graphically, the game doesn’t look too bad, but it is nothing to write home about either. The character models and some of the environments look good, with a high level of detail in each of them but the best looking thing about the game are the spells. There are some nice visual effects and hits, particularly with the tornado spell. This lets you see not just enemies, but other pieces of the environment; even whole buildings get sucked up in to the air and thrown back down to the ground again.
The game’s audio is mediocre. There are some nice sound effects and music but everything else is forgettable. The voice acting in particular is terrible. I noticed that when I was walking around looking for enemies the music would just cut out until the next battle, leaving only the sound of footsteps, which took away from the atmosphere of the game.
Overall Bullet Witch is a game with a good concept but poor execution. If you can get past the amount of repetition, bugs and poor AI you will have some fun with the game. But for most people the amount of errors is inexcusable, and the game will not last long. With no online or local multiplayer and an extremely short single player mode there is not a lot to do in the game but I think it is worth a rent even for a quick thrill.
Originally Written By: Liam Kenna