Dim the lights and turn your headset up, because were about to take a look at the world through the eyes of Ellis, a confused middle-aged man on the recovery from some tragic incident that occurred before the game begins. You may be confused but you’re most surely not alone. Meet your partner in crime; Bullet, an energetic German Shepperd who has come along for the ride. The team at Bloober have done a really nice job with the Blair Witch franchise so without further ado, lets dissect this game.
“It’s 1996. A young boy disappears in the Black Hills Forest near Burkittsville, Maryland. As Ellis, a former police officer with a troubled past, you join the search. What starts as an ordinary investigation soon turns into an endless nightmare as you confront your fears and the Blair Witch, a mysterious force that haunts the woods. Inspired by the cinematic lore of the Blair Witch franchise, experience a new psychological horror game that studies your reaction with fear and stress.”
Bloober Team have brought us a lot of first person horror experiences over the years, known for their indie hits Layers of Fear (2016) Layers of Fear 2 in (2019) and a high-tech version of such titles as these with the Observer (2017) with famous actor Rutger Hauer from Blade Runner. But all in all I’d have to say that this is their best looking thus far. The 4K graphics on the Xbox One really take you to scary places with dark and atmospheric level design put together with high quality sound and lighting.
The story-line for Blair Witch is somewhat different than what we see in the films. Usually, it’s groups of teens struggling with each other through-out the encounter, but as described the game is not related to the other stories at all. The main difference is, of course, you have no human to interact with. Apart from Bullet to guide you along the way, you are alone. This style is typical with Bloober’s previous titles and seems to pay off well when the two are mixed together. The game does keep to its traditional lore of the Blair Witch down to the teeth featuring highlights and sights you might find recognisable from the movies but apart from this the story had to be made for a single person, something not usually done for the franchise and I salute the team for their efforts.
As you set forth on your search you are armed only with a flashlight to help keep baddies away, a lot like the gameplay you might find in Alan Wake, where light is used as the ultimate weapon. You’ve also got your furry companion which, by the way, has a multitude of choices to interact with – from petting and praising him for a discovery to telling him to stick by your side or even telling him off. Soon enough, you come across your handy camcorder which can be used for spotting enemies, following invisible trails or night vision to help you through some of those darker areas you will encounter. But, the most important use for the camera is to watch video tapes you find along the venture. These tapes are crucial for finding evidence and accessing the rest of the story. You also come across other evidence like photographs and symbols hanging from the trees. I was lost in a repeating forest for about an hour because of this feature so I can’t stress how important this is. This feature is pretty nifty as once discovered opens a whole new look into how you view your evidence from here on out.
The environment that your journey takes place is the black hills forest, a well known location from the movies. Littered with skinny black trees and thick black bushes, this forest is some harsh terrain and it shows as the game moves on. Sticks and branches snapping and stone creek rocks being thrown around in the distance gives the player a sense they are being watched continuously and push the point of being alone even more. The game sound is very prominent as you will soon realise, making you turn to every noise you hear and just hope something isn’t lurking just behind you. If anything does come within range your trusty sidekick will sniff them out and point to let you know which way to look… Good boy!
I might be going against the grain but its because I enjoy these types of games. Horror games usually don’t have the greatest audience but there is still an audience and I for one enjoyed this experience. Games like these must be selling or else why would they still be making these types of games? Food for thought! Bloober Team have done a pretty sweet job with Blair Witch and it would be nice to see what other franchises these guys can get their hands on.
I really enjoyed Blair Witch, it caught the essence of the franchise and definitely gave me nostalgia from the movies – which now I have to watch again. Visuals look great and it plays well, although being a bit short in length I’d recommend this to any horror or franchise fan. Bloober did a pretty good job and I can’t wait to see what they have in store next.
This game was tested and reviewed on Xbox One. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version.Want to keep up to date with the latest Xt reviews, Xt opinions and Xt content? Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.