Ain’t life a witch? Ah, something got lost in translation there, but that’s ok – let’s go with this witch theme and cover Eastasiasoft’s latest adventure, Trigger Witch, for PS4. It’s available for the Xboxeseses and Nintendo Switch, too.
The title and concept are a bit mental, but that’s ok. You play Colette, a recent graduate from The Stock, run by her mother. As you may surmise from the title, Colette, and her mother, are witches, and they have an uncanny ability when it comes to weaponry.
Unlike that witch with a room on her broom, these ladies wield firearms with ease. They’re so good with gun proficiency; you could say that they must use some sort of trickery, or witchcraft even. Eh – eh? Witch.. ok.
Trigger Witch Review (PS4)
We join the heroine as she completes an initiation gauntlet where she must display her skills with her gun and agility around the assault course. Trigger Witch is a top-down twin-stick shooter that looks like it’s a remastered 16-bit game from yesteryear – written with affection. The left stick is your movement, the right is a laser-guided sight.
Much like a Zelda RPG, Colette will move from one screen to the next, triggering (ha!) switches to reach a new area loaded with goodies or more enemies to massacre before moving on. This is very much Trigger Witch’s theme, outside of exploration, and these action pieces are the best bit.
Dashing with her witch-like agility, she can shift past the onslaught to a more advantageous position. Unlike old-school RPGs, you don’t get random encounters and can see the enemies ahead. It’s up to you to engage them or not, or if you’re a bit loud, they’ll attack immediately. The result is often messy on two accounts: first, melee enemies swarm you, so you have to keep runnin’ and a-gunnin’. Secondly, you paint the realm read with their blood and guts. For all the cuteness, it’s pretty gory.
Anyhoo, after completing this gauntlet, a mysterious man in black shows up, and you’re sent on your first mission as a new member of The Clip (nothing to do with a Kevin Smith film) to investigate further, completing a ton of sidequests in the process.
The map in Trigger Witch is pretty diverse, offering the distinct biomes you can expect of its RPG ilk. Trigger Witch isn’t an RPG, by the way – the focus is more on the action and questing, though you can equip Colette with several consumables and upgrade her available arsenal.
Interestingly, it’s pretty easy to upgrade early on at the local gunsmith. After handing over a mechanical part, you can invest all those gems you’ve pulled out of the offal and improve everything like damage, rate of fire, range and reload speed. These stats apply to all the guns on offer – some notably more potent than others, but the default pistol is a must for upgrading. Despite having a bias for pistols in games anyway, it has infinite ammo, so pending you upgrade the reload speed and quick on your feet.
There are quite a few walls of texts from the interactions with the NPCs, but that’s juxtaposed with the visceral violence. The enemy units, while notably bad, are often cute themselves, and when you open a can on them only to be presented with their insides, I couldn’t help but let out the odd laugh as it’s disturbingly satisfying.
Combat is very satisfying, and the controls are accurate (laser sights help), but if you head off too far or get into a tight space – say in the interiors, depending on the difficulty setting, it can get a little overwhelming without a melee attack to hand. Colette does carry health potions that restore over time, but sometimes that’s not enough.
Another thing to look out for is the amount of backtracking. As a quest-based game, the selfish NPCs of Trigger Witch often expect you to collect X number of things before they help you. Again, if you’re ill-prepared, this can prove a problem as enemies will respawn when you shift back and forth a screen. You can turn this into your advantage, though, as they’ll still drop gems that can help you upgrade your gear.
Trigger Witch is quite an unusual set-up -going for that cute pixel aesthetic mashed up with lots of <ahem> satisfying gore. It reminded me a bit of In Celebration of Violence to some degree. The music in the game is a preference thing and goes with the 16-bit style. I wasn’t a fan of the general score, but whenever you encounter enemies, everything speeds up with a high tempo track that is perfectly placed.
Is this one you should be putting on your wishlist or adding straight to your basket? It depends on your tastes. If you’re a fan of 16-bit top-down adventures, but with high energy twin-stick shooting and plenty to discover, yes. If you’d rather play Solitaire, then perhaps not.