The Metroidvania genre is pretty crowded these days, but The Knight Witch is unique enough to stand out.
Published by Team17 and developed by Super Mega Team, The Knight Witch takes the Metroidvania template, says ‘sayonara’ to the constraints of gravity, and adds a healthy dose of twin-stick shooting. Then, on top of that, there’s also a deck-building aspect. It’s pretty safe to say that you likely won’t have played anything quite like it before.
After a raging conflict years ago in which the Knight Witches fought against a ruler ravaging the world, life now carries on underground. But Dungeonidas, as it’s called, now faces a threat, too. Enemies long thought to have been dispatched begin to reappear, and it falls to you to combat them. Thankfully, while you’re not a Knight Witch (at least not yet), you did train to be one before being told you weren’t quite up to the job. And so despite your timid appearance, you’re not defenceless.
Rayne is your name, and your powers of flight allow you to explore the underworld locales of Dungeonidas with grace. Not only that, but you can shoot projectiles in any direction, and make use of magic spells providing you have the mana to do so. It’s with these skills that you’ll take the fight to any golems you encounter on your travels, though the environments themselves are also something you’ll have to watch out for.
Like a bullet hell shooter, enemies will bombard you with projectiles. When you’re in an open space, it’s not too hard avoiding their onslaughts, but many of The Knight Witch‘s rooms restrict your movement. It can feel a little unfair at times, especially with health pickups being thin on the ground. Certain spells can help you, however, clearing all bullets around you, for instance.
The trouble is, you can’t always bank on a particular spell being available to you. You’re tasked with creating a deck of spell cards, and of your full deck, only three particular cards are available at any one time. Use one, and another random selection of three will replace your hand. It keeps you on your toes and adds an element of randomness to the game, but it’s questionable if it makes the game better. Do you really want to take your eyes off the action for a second to see which magic spell is available in each slot?
It perhaps would have been better if you acquired new spells on your adventure and could simply equip three of them to your loadout, learning to instinctively use them as necessary. Instead, you often feel like you’re wasting mana using a spell you’re not all that bothered about to get one that’s better for the situation. At least it’s a problem that alleviates itself over time as you get more spell cards and can further tweak your deck.
Other issues you might find with The Knight Witch are equally troublesome but small. Checkpoints are quite spaced out, for example, so if you do fall in battle it can be pain have to journey through multiple rooms to get back to where you were. And there’s an armour system that feels largely pointless: is it really worth playing hundreds of a currency just to take an additional hit and perhaps counter with an attack before your armour breaks?
Related: The Best Metroidvania Games on PS5
For the most part, though, playing The Knight Witch is a very enjoyable experience. Taking control of Rayne is a pleasure thanks to smooth, responsive controls, and the story is quite interesting. Much like Super Mega Team’s previous outing, Rise & Shine, it looks absolutely wonderful, too, with its 2D art style really dialling up the charm.
Also like Rise & Shine, The Knight Witch can be very challenging at times, pushing you to your limits, but at least here there are some crutches for you to fall back on. The fact that it’s a Metroidvania means you can always backtrack and explore in the hope of finding some useful upgrades, for example. And then there are cheats for those who really have a hard time: they prevent some trophies/achievements from being earned, but at least they offer a lifeline.
The Knight Witch is a game that has a lot to offer both fans of twin-stick shooters and Metroidvanias. Its moment-to-moment action is enjoyable and exciting as you avoid enemy bullets and try to counter them with your own attacks, and there’s a great sense of exploration. It’s a shame that some systems perhaps don’t quite hit the mark as they should, but anyone who can appreciate a game that takes some risks will very much enjoy this quirky adventure.