Here’s how a game of Witch It usually goes. The hunters are on the prowl. They’re searching for me and my team. We’ve got no way to fight back, so the only solution is to hide. I’ve taken up residence below deck of a ship pirate ship docked. A hunter enters searching for any trace of me.
I’m a cannon ball hiding in a box of other cannon balls.
The hunter pokes and prods everything in the room, throwing potatoes at what he thinks might be me. As he nears me, I cast a distraction spell and make a break for it, dashing out a window and changing shape — safe for now.
The first release of German indie developer Barrel Roll Games, Witch It is a game of magical hide and seek. You play as either a hunter or a witch and use your abilities to avoid or find the opposing time.
Witches can take the shape of any object in the game and hide in plain sight. Hunters have a number of detection and traversal abilities, and they throw potatoes at objects to check for disguised witches.
It’s a fairly simple setup — likely familiar to anyone who’s played Prop Hunt in the popular Gary’s Mod — but there’s a lot of room for creativity in hiding.
It’s also a lot of fun. Hiding as a witch can lead to some pretty intense moments. Sometimes you get lucky, sometimes it takes smart use of different abilities to throw hunters off and escape. There’s a lot of depth to the hiding gameplay and the longer you survive the more rewarding it gets.
There isn’t as much to the seeking side. Hunters have as many abilities options as witches, but there’s just not as much depth to the basic gameplay. Regardless of what abilities you pick, each match almost invariably amounts to walking around trying to spot anything out of place and hit every object you see with a potato. When you find a witch, it’s rarely more complicated than just standing there and shooting.
Witches need to be strategic. Picking an object and where to hide sometimes needs a lot of thought. When a hunter’s nearby, deciding when to stay put, throw out a distraction, or run requires careful consideration of your surroundings and close observation of the hunter’s behavior. There are a lot more moving parts to consider.
Playing as a hunter is fun, but not nearly as much as the witch. This is something I don’t seem to be alone in feeling, as I’ve played plenty of games where whole teams just quit if they’re not witches.
The game has a few modes — Hide and Seek, Hunt-A-Hag, and Mobification — offering slightly different takes on the core cat and mouse gameplay. In Hunt-A-Hag, witches can’t transform into objects and hunters can’t throw potatoes, which makes tagging a strictly melee affair. In Mobification, witches who get caught join the hunters, making it harder to stay hidden as time goes on.
The game’s got a handful of maps, from snowy and autumnal village settings, to spooky crypts, to ramshackle pirate coves covered in shipwrecks, treasure chests, and more.
The game blends pixely textures and 3D environments and characters to create a distinct and vibrant lo-fi look. It’s an engaging aesthetic and definitely unique.
The game has tons of customization options for your witch and hunter personas. Playing game unlocks new cosmetic items and ingredients for the Witches’ Cauldron. You can combine those ingredients in the cauldron to craft even more cosmetic items, using recipes of different rarities.
Witch It is out in Early Access right now. It feels more or less all there, but a few things still need a little smoothing out. The matchmaking has never worked for me. On the rare occasion the game I get sorted into has people, it’s rarely full. This is mitigated by the ample server choice, which currently shows plenty of people playing. It’s not hard to find a full game by any stretch, but it’d be nice if hitting “quick match” actually helped you get into a match quickly.
The only real gameplay issue I ran into was around character movement. Since you can interact with every object in each level, they all have their own physics and geometry. This can really mess with running around as a hunter. Running around a map playing a witch disguised as a slice of watermelon feels odd, but it should. As a hunter, I was constantly getting tripped up on random objects. The camera jitters a lot as you walk over every little thing. It was actually a little nauseating at times.
If you’re prone motion sickness in first person games, this might actually cause you a little discomfort.
These qualms didn’t really impact my overall enjoyment of the game, but they seemed worth bringing up.
Witch It takes part in a long tradition of people making full games out of ideas originally created as mods for other games (much like MOBAs and battle royale games). If you’re into Prop Hunt, you’ll be into this. If you’ve never touched Gary’s Mod, Witch It is still a great time. No one’s made a hide and seek game as good as this, and it’s far more polished than many early access games.
If you’re looking for a lighthearted and whimsical multiplayer game, look no further.