The Knight Witch Is a Metroidvania With Bullet Hell Elements and a Cute Hand-drawn Art Style

As Steam Next Fest continues, we take a look at another Metroidvania, this time with a unique twist: The combat is full of bullet-hell elements! Move freely around the map and blast your enemies to pieces, all while avoiding their endless projectiles. The game is slated for release on the 29th of November. Let’s see what’s in store!

The Knight Which, the War and Time Skip

In a fantasy world filled with a variety of creatures, the residents have united under a single banner: the house of Daigadai. All was well in the world, until this house started draining the planet dry of all resources, and used mechanized golems to keep their hold over the world.

Only the Knight Witches, powerful spellcasters with a deep connection to the world, were able to stop them after a long and excruciating war. But it came at the cost of their leader, Robyn, and it was too late to save the planet, forcing everyone underground.

Fourteen years have passed, and people are celebrating the anniversary of the end of the war. You play as Rayne, a former knight witch in training who didn’t get to participate in the great war. Your first objective is to meet up with you husband before the festivities begin (Show of hands: how many games where the protagonist is married do you know? I can count 3 others).

However, the peace doesn’t last. Just as your husband leaves for the market, golems, the same type from 14 years ago, start attacking the city. It’s now your job to figure out what’s going on and find your husband (spoiler: we don’t see him for the rest of the demo, so he’s likely dead), before being inevitably dragged into a larger conspiracy.

I Was Supposed To Dash PAST the Bullets, Not INTO Them!

As mentioned in the intro, the game is a mix of bullet hell and metroidvania. You actually start the game playing as Robyn in the final days of the great war, giving you a taste of what a full-powered knight which can do. It’s a commonly used trick, to get you hyped for the endgame. You then switch to a far weaker Rayne after the time-skip.

The way the two genres mix is actually quite clever. As a knight witch, you can fly, so you’ll be able to move freely in any direction with the left stick. This is a bullet-hell, so enemies will fill the screen with projectiles you need to avoid. If you take damage, all projectiles on screen vanish, giving you a small break.

You get to fire back with the right trigger, and are able to aim with the right stick. You can fire without aiming, targeting the closest enemy, but you deal less damage that way. Seeing as this is a bullet-hell, there will be A LOT of projectiles on screen. You’ll want to let the game do the aiming for you so you can make sure you don’t get hit.

The face buttons (X, Y, and B on Xbox) will cast various spells (different bullets, screen-wide attacks, a shield etc.), which take the form of cards randomly selected from a deck. You’ll be able to edit your deck at save points, and casting a spell will automatically replace it with another. Each spell has a mana cost, and you gain mana from crates or by damaging and killing enemies.

The game plays very well, and exploring the world while avoiding enemy fire is a lot of fun. The two bosses in the demo were a bit of a challenge, but that might just be my inexperience with the genre. Art-wise, the game sports beautiful hand-drawn sprites and has a great soundtrack.

Not Quite So Magical

The spell system is probably the weakest part of the game. For one thing, the spells you get are random, so you have no idea what you’ll get. You may want to activate the machine-gun mode, but are stuck with two seeking daggers and a weak explosion spell.

But the real problem is visibility. The 3 spells are in the lower-right corner of the screen, so you’ll need to take your eyes off your character and look at them instead. And if there’s a bullet coming your way, that’s not a good strategy.

One thing the devs could try is (also) put the spell icons around the which, so you don’t have to look in two places at once during combat. We don’t know how much this would clutter the screen, but the current implementation is less than ideal.

Despite our complaints about the spell system, the game is still a ton of fun and a unique spin on the Metroidvania genre. We’re looking forward to seeing the game release later next month.