The Witch’s House

I was somewhat underwhelmed by The Witch’s House – it’s got a lot of cool ideas and isn’t overly difficult, but it has a bunch of fast reflex bits that annoyed me, especially when a lot of them were at the end of a sequence with no save point.

I really wish there’d been none of the suddenly a (lame-looking, in contrast to the otherwise very good graphics) monster attacks bits at all. It starts really well. Cutting the limbs off a teddy bear only to discover it bleeds when you do so, and now there’s blood splatter appearing on the walls? That’s quality creepy. A giant teddy bear then appearing and crushing you? Not so much.

 photo deathbybear.png

The “solution” to the giant-teddybear-crush puzzle being to walk back into the room you came out of? Downright lame. The monster attack sequences can be nerve-wracking when you have to lead it around obstacles or something first, but that’s because they’re frustrating. I think it’d also have made the ending a lot more frightening and challenging if it was the first appearance of that mechanic – as it is, I made it out on my first try, despite dying multiple times on just about every other one of them.

But there’s a lot that’s just good puzzle stuff and things moving slightly for no reason but creepiness. There were even a couple times when I was sure something was going to suddenly kill me and that kept moving slightly, only for it to be a red herring. One of them even made me actually get myself killed because I’d avoided going near it and instead blundered in to an area I shouldn’t have. I also liked that it has event flags separate from the saves themselves – at one point, I obeyed the suggestion of the writing on the wall, died on the spot, and on my next reload found it laughing at me for falling for it. And there are NPCs in the game…but they’re invisible, which just does so much to keep the feeling you’re alone. You have no idea who they are or what they’re thinking.

 photo key1.png

Also, I just loved the way it uses keys. Midway through, you’ll find a note mentioning that keys in the witch’s house are never used to open doors. Their only purpose is to solve puzzles. It both subverts the usual find key open door thing these games do and underlines how weird the place you’re in is.

The ending reveal of the story is great!…is what I really want to say, but the designer felt two endings were necessary, probably because it’s what all the other games do, even though it doesn’t make sense since there isn’t actually any difference in outcome. The default one is just escaping the house. If you want the one that actually explains the plot, you have to go get a hidden item while you’re fleeing the house. You get one mention of it at the very start, so I’d completely forgotten, and even with the walkthrough I couldn’t even figure out what it wanted me to do, so I ended up seeing the real ending on youtube. It’s a great twist that ends up perfectly justifying a couple things that had bothered me during the game itself. And adding insult to injury, there’s no real reason for the item giving you that second ending.

Further secrets are available if you replay again and do stuff like ignore the save points completely. Those manage to be interesting without vital, so they seem more appropriate.

5 Comments

  1. illhousen says:
    I dislike monsters in game like this in general as I prefer puzzle-solving and exploration. Unique bosses are fine when they are justified by the plot, but random monsters less so.

    ” I also liked that it has event flags separate from the saves themselves
    – at one point, I obeyed the suggestion of the writing on the wall,
    died on the spot, and on my next reload found it laughing at me for
    falling for it.”

    Didn’t notice it. Neat.

    The ending: as I understand, you are supposed to get normal ending first and feel good about helping the protagonist to escape the scary house. Then you get true ending which expand the normal one, and, well, you know how it goes. I agree that the cause-effect connection between the action required to obtain that ending and the ending itself is very much not obvious, but I think the idea itself is sound.

    I confess I didn’t get the secret ending (the one you get by ignoring save-points) because it’s too damn hard for me, and another reason to dislike monsters.

    All in all, a good and reasonably short game that I enjoyed.

    1. Farla says:
      I feel that the two endings just work fine at once. You escape, feeling good about helping the protagonist, and then it reveals you were wrong – I mean, you still get the first part even in the second ending. What’s really added by having one ending without the cool twist?
      1. Nerem says:
        I’m super late, but the creator also wrote a short story about the titular witch’s past, and it funnily just makes the witch look like an even worse person, because it makes it a lot more obvious that the witch was loved instead of just pitied and was pretty gleeful in abusing that love.
        1. Farla says:
          Hm. That’s kind of the impression I got already from her willingness to screw her friend over and then mutilate the girl for good measure.
          1. Nerem says:
            Well, it was funny as it seemed like it was going to try and soften her character by detailing how crappy her life was that it made her yearn to do anything to get a fully working body. But then nope, she really was as bad as she seemed if not worse.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Skip to toolbar