I feel like it’s pretty safe to assume that witches and magic go together, that’s just what they do, right? Trigger Witch is here to prove that assumption false. Developed by Rainbite and published by Eastasiasoft, Trigger Witch is a twin-stick-shooter that is set in a fantasy-styled world called Ozryn. The game as a whole takes inspiration from old-school, top-down action adventures, most notably the 16-bit classic The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past but mixes things up with twin-stick shooter style of combat.
Instead of magic, these witches use guns. You play as Colette who is just about to graduate from the Witch training school – you just have to pass the graduation test first: the Stock Gauntlet. I thought this area was a fantastic way to introduce the player to the basic mechanics. This essentially involves combat and some light puzzle elements that require you to shoot targets. Throughout the rest of my playthrough, I was waiting for some new mechanics, but they never showed up with the exception of a few dungeon-specific ones. There are also some shoot-’em-up broom flying segments that are fun and interesting at first glance, but fail to really be anything but a small gameplay divergence. The whole time I thought they would incorporate some magic abilities into the mix (you do have a dash that the game considers magic) or perhaps some potions that could be thrown like bombs, but as I neared the end I realized there would be nothing else.
The twin-stick- shooter gameplay is decent. Some areas have lots of enemies and the action can get hectic, but you can switch to a different gun on the fly in multiple ways which is nice, and you don’t have to worry about reloading any of your extra guns. They automatically reload when you aren’t using them – the time it takes depends on each one’s reload stat. The main gun that you get very early from the mysterious gun-spewing ordinance rift, a revolver, can be reloaded while you are using it. In the tutorial area, the Stock Gauntlet, you obtain an assault rifle as well. All but one of the eight guns you can find are based on real-world guns, from machine guns to a shotgun, to a flame thrower. Each gun is acquired in the dungeon-like areas that you must work your way through to complete the game. Most of the guns just have one function, to kill, but some have alternate functions that aid you in the dungeons they are found in. The first dungeon I entered, the Firearms Foundry, had a few doors locked by chains, but luckily the Mortar Launcher gun that I found there was able to break the chains open. Later on, the Snapfrost dungeon had ice bricks blocking my path, but once I found the Fire Lance I could melt them away with ease. At first, I found the gun selection and switching mechanics to be kind of confusing, but over time they felt more comfortable and I had fun plowing through the enemies switching back and forth between my few favorite guns. In the end, the combat walks a fine line between being fun and being repetitive, each engagement follows the same shoot, kite, dodge, shoot formula.
All the guns are upgradable and you can use the gems you gain from killing enemies and exploring to upgrade any of their four attributes: damage, fire rate, clip size, and reload speed. Once I upgraded the main revolver a bit it seemed like the most versatile gun by far, feeling like the best gun in most situations. One nice feature in regards to the upgrade system is you can freely re-spec any gun at any time when in the upgrade shop, spending the gems on whichever gun(s) you currently like the most.
Trigger Witch features a topical story that focuses on some serious subjects like xenophobia and corruption but in a lighthearted way. After being the only one of your three friends to graduate, one of your friends becomes extremely jealous and confrontational towards you. As you converse with other characters throughout the game you pretty much always are given two options to respond. One is typically the friendly option and the other is the aggressive or snarky option. It made it feel like I was steering the narrative, and options are always nice, but in the end, I don’t think it affects how the story plays out. When you receive your first gun at the start of the game from the strange gun portal a mysterious hooded man also travels through the portal. Pretty much the entire story revolves around finding that man and foiling his plans.
The game world reminds me entirely of A Link to the Past, from the trees and bushes to the houses, but perhaps the aspect that bears the most resemblance is the topography lines that indicate one area is higher or lower than another. Trigger Witch does have its own unique pixel art style with a pastel flair. It’s not the best pixel art but it is decent and there is a nice variety in the design of each area, and especially some of the dungeons. The Floating Pavilion was by far my favorite – an outdoors dungeon area made up of floating platforms connected by bridges. This was the only area that you could fall off the side, which was slightly annoying, especially thanks to the large number of stationary fans AND fan enemies that could move around, aiming their fans at you. Falling off only takes off a sliver of health; however, by that point, you have two health potions. Drinking one fully restores your health. The game features adjustable difficulty sliders and I set it up slightly harder than their Normal setting but I didn’t have much trouble with most of the areas. The game does get noticeably harder in the second half around the time you get the second health potion and that helps to make up for the increase in difficulty. One aspect of the art design that was very useful is how the screen would turn reddish at the borders when Colette is low on health, reminding you to use a health potion. The game also features lots of screen shake and motion effects to accentuate the action.
The music and overall sound design in Trigger Witch are well done, with the music definitely taking inspiration from the 16-bit era. The title menu track sounds like a remix of one of the main songs from Final Fantasy III (FF6). A fair portion of the soundtrack has a JRPG feel to it. The sound effects for the guns are all very nice. I like how the bullet firing noise changes as you are getting closer to the end of a clip, which is a great audio cue to tell you to switch guns without having to look away from the action. In addition to each gun having its own firing sounds, I’m pretty sure their reload sounds are all unique as well.
The game could be completed in around ten hours, it took me a little longer because of some annoying bugs that have since been patched out (to the best of my knowledge). I earned all of the achievements in my playtime, and some achievement hunters will love the large list – fifty-seven in total. There are no missable story achievements and once you beat the game you can continue exploring/earning achievements if you need to clean up anything. The game doesn’t have much replayability though since it’s a ho-hum experience as a whole, and I wouldn’t want to replay everything again (although I did have to replay a lot of sections thanks to the now-removed bug).
Trigger Witch is a middle-of-the-road game. I had a decent time playing through it, but just like much of the land in which it takes place, Ozryn, the game lacks any real magic. The action is fun and chaotic at times, the story has some charm, and the world is colorful but the game lacks any real staying power. It’s somewhat unique to see a combination of Action-Adventure RPG with Twin-stick-shooter in a retro-styled setting and if that sounds interesting then it might be worth a look once it has its first sale.Become a Patron!
This game was tested and reviewed on Xbox One. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version. Game provided by publisher.Want to keep up to date with the latest Xt reviews, Xt opinions and Xt content? Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.