I am, generally speaking, a horror fan, but this year for Halloween I’ve niched down on a particular topic and it has sort of accidentally taken me away from horror. Hm. Too late now! Plus, witches are totally Halloween fodder – and they’re one of my key trends for games at the moment. Video games are lousy with both current and upcoming witches these days.
It makes sense. They’ve already got brilliant marketing. Few Halloween-y sights are more iconic than a pointy hat, a black cat, and a sihouetted figure flying in front of the moon on a broomstick. The witches I’ve collected here are definitely going to get you in the pumpkin spirit, even if they manage to run through most other genres except horror… Look, Halloween is mostly about sweets and dressing up these days anyway (and by the way, I am livid that I’ve not got any parties to go to this year, because my hair is exactly the right length to do a perfect Carmy Berzatto costume).
Time was in 2020 you couldn’t find a single person on staff at RPS who wasn’t rinsing Noita on their lunchbreak. You play a lil witchy type person (presumably; ‘noita’ means ‘witch’ in Finnish) exploring a series of procedurally generated caves, which become deeper and twistier and more full of hazards and monsters with each level you conquer. You can find different randomised wands and spells that have effects as dangerous to you as your enemies: explosions, shooting acid, everything is fire now. And when I say everything there really is the potential for everything to catch fire.
Every pixel in Noita is simulated, and there is a complex physics system to boot. Coal burns more slowly than wood, which burns more slowly than oil. You could cause a vat of acid to break open, super heat it with an explosion, and it will turn into acid mist. That will then rise until it comes into contact with a ceiling, at which point it will condense and become acid rain. This game is bananas, B A N A N A S, in the best possible way, as well as being incredibly impressive, and you will lose hours to it, because each time you play your run will be absolutely unique.
I’m still completely in love with Wytchwood. You play this demonic grumpy lil crone hot-stepping around different areas of a picture-book 2D world, in order to collect some escaped souls for a pretty sus black goat. There’s a town, a swamp, a graveyard, some sunlit farmlands, even a fishing village on the coast, and each of them has different flora and fauna you need to collect to craft your traps and spells.
What it is, then, is a shopping list game. To catch an errant soul you might first need to craft a voodoo doll, which needs a specific ingredient you can only get by trapping a creepy jack-o-lantern monster in the farmlands, and to do that you need feathers, which means you need to make a simple trap from twigs and reeds. You can see how they’d snowball up, but it’s immensely satisfying trying to be as efficient as possible with your shopping list. And it’s so lovely to look at that you can’t begrudge it a single second.
Little Witch In The Woods
Little Witch In The Woods may still be in early access but I’ve wiled away many an hour as Ellie, who has a sentient witch hat and who looks very cross at having to do basically anything, at all, ever. Her little animated expressions are one of my favourite things about it. In fact, the animation full stop is just very sarcastic. The whole game is almost disgustingly cute, from Ellie’s stompy little run, to the fluffy rabbit-esque balls that you hug to collect their hair, and to the lizards who roll over and blow bubbles when you rub their tummy.
Oh sure, there’s something about helping the nearby town and a curse or something, but I wasn’t paying attention because I was too busy making healing candies and potions to throw at unsuspecting flower birds. There’s a surprisingly diverse range of wildlife in Little Witch Of The Woods, with different plants and animals appearing after dark, too – and basically all of them provide an ingredient or other for your withy business.
She has high heel gun shoes and her hair is both her clothes and a magic weapon. Listen. Listen.
Witchy Life Story
This is a fairly new-ish game, and is sort of a cross between a crafting game and a visual novel. You create your rebellious teenage witch (the child of a famous witching family, no less) in the extensive and very cute character creator, and head off to a town that needs your magical help in advance of their harvest festival. Your little witch’s cottage has a lovely home garden, where you tend weeds and harvest flowers with different magical properties, before taking in your orders for the day. The locals need different potions, charms and incenses made up and delivered to help them with their personal problems: they want a nice gift for their anniversary; they need more confidence; they’ve got a bit of an artistic block on.
Your daily routine is intensely restful. You get up, check your orders, do your gardening, talk to your crow familiar, make up the necessary spells and potions for the day, and then take them out on delivery. There are a few cute people to flirt with, if that’s your thing, and the art style is really lovely, too.
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