2023 has been a busy year. Sometimes it felt like you couldn’t go one month without a game of the year contender. That inevitably meant that a few smaller games got overshadowed, which is what makes the end of the year period perfect for going back and giving those little gems a chance.
Witchfire is one such game, and I am here to tell you why you should get it.
Witchfire is the long-in-development – and I do mean long – shooter from The Astronauts. If that name doesn’t sound familiar, perhaps the pedigree of the people behind it will. Painkiller, Bulletstorm, and The Vanishing of Ethan Carter are all games devs at the studio have worked on.
If you know anything about those games, you can pretty much expect stunning visuals, great combat feel, and solid shooting mechanics. Witchfire is all that and more. Witchfire is a rogue-lite shooter with an interesting twist. And I know you’re tired of rogue-like and lite games, so am I.
If you haven’t already clicked off the page, you're probably interested in learning what makes this one special. Witchfire blends the rogue-lite gameplay flow with the tension of extraction shooters. Yes, you are meant to die, and you will do a lot of dying before you can build up your character, but you can also end a cursed run early and extract with whatever resources you gathered.
The extraction element elevates the intensity of the rogue-lite staples we’re all familiar with, but also gives you an out when you don’t feel like doing a long run.
The first time you fire the starting revolver, you’ll understand how much punching above its weight Witchfire does. Every weapon sounds meaty, feels weighty without being sluggish, and landing headshots never stops being satisfying.
Though you’ll mainly be using guns here, there’s an array of spells that you can deploy that either add elemental damage, or create massive in-game moments that really give you a feeling of power in a game that’s otherwise fairly punishing. It’s actually best to think of Witchfire’s main mechanics as having branched off of Destiny 2. They’re more crunchy, but just as smooth.
Witchfire has a dark, Gothic aesthetic that does a really good job at blending the superstition, fiction, fantasy, and horror of that time period, with firearms and more modern concepts. Nothing feels out of place visually, and it’s a treat to just watch the colours, mood, and autumnal vibes all congeal in motion.
This is an early access release, however, so there’s not a lot of content. You’ll find two main (large) zones, a couple of major boss fight, and a handful of weapons and spells. The rogue-lite nature lets it get a lot of mileage out of its content, so don’t fret about the raw stats too much.
The good news is that The Astronauts is working on a major update that’s expected sometime in December. It will introduce new content, and make it easier for new players to jump in - so should be a good one for newcomers and existing players.
As far as performance, Witchfure runs well on a variety of hardware levels, and is very scalable. I played it on a laptop with an RTX 3060 and an i7-12650H. At 1440p DLSS Balanced, I average between 80 and 110fps. The game supports every upscaling tech under the sun, so non-Nvidia owners need not worry. It also has controller support, if you don’t want to use a mouse.
Witchfire came out in September, and it’s been one of the Epic Games Store’s best-sellers. There’s really not much left to be said about the EGS; it still chugs for no particular reason, and offers maybe 5% of the features and convenience of Steam. It’s not pretty, and you’ll never want to leave it running in the background when you aren’t specifically playing a game on it. All of that remains true.
But there’s no other way to play Witchfire right now, so if you’re intrigued by the game’s premise, it’s well worth biting the bullet and buying it on the EGS. It helps that the store has a 33% off coupon as part of its Black Friday sale. Witchfire is not on sale, but the coupon will drop the (admittedly a little steep) $40 price down to around $27. The coupon is added automatically to your cart, but it’s only valid until Tuesday, November 28.
Witchfire is also a self-refundable game, so if you put less than two hours into it and decide you’re not a fan, you can easily click a button and get your money back. Two hours should be enough to give you an impression in this case, too, as runs can take 30-40 minutes or under.
If you like the gunplay of Destiny 2, but feel like it could be a little more grounded, play Witchfire. If you want the closest thing to a single-player version of Hunt: Showdown, play Witchfire. If you just like shooters that look great and feel even better, play Witchfire.