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antstream
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Written by  :  Kayburt (5235)
Written on  :  Feb 08, 2021
Rating  :  3.6 Stars3.6 Stars3.6 Stars3.6 Stars3.6 Stars

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Summary

And now for something completely gory

The Good

Graphics in the game are rich in variety, colour, shadows and lighting, not least the amount of gore, which captures a horror atmosphere and exceeds Doom a level higher for its time. The intro cinematic is thrilling to watch from beginning to end. When you plunge into the game, you're greeted by close range weapons and trap-ridden labyrinthine levels with quite a selection of monsters and demons from the smallest poisonous spider to the great witch Illwhyrin herself.

The RPG elements fit nicely as progressive experience earns you new abilities, new spellcasting capabilities and increased vitality. Potions, spells and magic items make the combat more interesting and guarantee you'll get through the level successfully. The weapons, though mainly consisting of melee type, have their different reaches and damage power. Replacing the weapons as they get damaged is a small chore, that is compensated with bonus EXP. What few ranged weapons there are have a generous amount of ammunition around the levels. It's neat that you can use the magic arrows to make a ladder, so you don't have to waste a fly spell.

The Bad

Somehow going through a level doesn't feel as satisfying as it does in other FPSes because there's no kill count, item count or secret count to tell if you fully beat the level. Some of the levels are just plain mean because you'll find an overwhelming number of instant-killing spike traps and closing mechanisms which trap you forever. The difficulty levels in the game are hard to tell apart and the Nightmare difficulty makes the game next to impossible to beat, more so than Doom. Even dying a level restarts you with 0 EXP, making saving the game frequently an absolute must.

In the midst of the gameplay there is sadly an abundance of bugs in the game, such as the broken jumping mechanic, clipping through walls, which kills you without warning, and the inability to pick up daggers, not to mention the infamous level 5 bug that stops you getting the brass key to the exit (saved only by an Unlock Door spell).

Finally, the only area in which the game lacks variety is the soundtrack, having only six music tracks (the last one being removed from the Adlib/SB16 sound card for no reason) where more would have completed the scary atmosphere from level to level.

The Bottom Line

Doom and Heretic brought you the finest first person action in the early 90s. Witchaven tried hard to reach the level of those games, but failed by a mile. If shooting was always your kind if action, then it takes a lot of getting used to with a melee arsenal. Sadly there is quite a lot missing that would have made it top of the FPS list. Recommend that you sharpen your FPS skills before you play this title. Witchaven is memorable, but not everyone's favourite, so give this title the benefit of the doubt and make the most of it.

antstream