The Knight Witch hands on preview – a metroidvania shmup

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During Steam’s Next Fest October 2022, we had the opportunity to try out the demo for The Knight Witch, which comes out at the end of next month. While metroidvanias aren’t exactly new in the sphere of gaming, let’s see if developer Super Awesome Hyper Dimensional Mega Team can pull off a solid experience.

The game starts off with an admittedly preachy plotline about how Earth is on the brink of destruction because of the irresponsible existence of the Daigadai empire in exploiting resources. As such, citizens begin to rebel against them in an effort to preserve nature, which is futile until the knight witches come in to save the day.

In the beginning you’re given many tools to easily take out foes and are given the context that these knight witches draw their powers from regular people believing in them and are tied via links. Of course, this is all a prologue to the actual game’s story which takes place 14 years after the war between the empire and the witches.

Here we are introduced to our actual protagonist, Rayne, who has been living underground in peace after the world was forced to head down there as the Earth’s surface became too unstable. We learn some things about her, such as that she’s like the knight witches, but didn’t participate in the prologue’s battle.

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The game made a big deal that she wasn’t actually a knight witch, but more so one in training. The preview for the game never answers why she never seemed to be promoted despite being one for a decade and a half. It’s certain that her backstory will be expanded upon in the full game.

Her life was peaceful, until a seemingly random attack by the robots which were the bad guys during the war 14 years ago come and terrorize the town she calls home. Here is where we get into the main meat of the game.

The game handles like a shump, you fly Rayne around in any direction, dodging shots by enemies while shooting back with her own magical spells. However instead of stages where you fight through dozens, if not hundreds of enemies, exploration is handled more like a traditional metroidvania.

The demo for The Knight Witch was very restricting, but the map is more reminiscent of games such as Metroid where you shoot doors to open them to travel to the next area. Some doors require solving some puzzles such as getting to a lock somewhere in the area before you’re able to move on.

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It was all pretty basic and navigating through was a breeze. This was also all made much easier with the function to check where you need to be heading in by pressing one single button. The developers did tout that The Knight Witch was a metroidvania “without boundaries”, but I do worry they might’ve tuned the game to be on too much on the easy side.

This also goes into combat for the game, but what they did with it was handled smartly. There’s an auto aim feature for your shots, but if you manually aim like this is a twin stick shooter, then those same shots become stronger, rewarding players who take the time to improve while not punishing those of lower skill too harshly.

Also with combat comes along the deck building experience for The Knight Witch. Rayne gets access to spell cards, which become usable as she gathers mana from fallen foes. Once you have enough, then you’re able to use one of the cards in your hand, which provide special attacks or moves which give you defensive capabilities.

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So far the limited amount of cards didn’t give the special attacks much depth, but could easily help allow players to choose their playstyles and open up the game to many new and exciting opportunities.

Overall there’s good potential for The Knight Witch. While I have my concerns with the game’s plot based on what little I’ve seen, gameplay is solid and slick with tons of potential. So if you’re looking for a new metroidvania to sink your teeth into, then this one might be worth checking out.

The Knight Witch comes out on November 29, 2022 for across Windows PC (via Steam), Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, and PlayStation 5. You can check out the same playable demo which is available until October 10th, over on its Steam page.

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Got into gaming thanks to a nice old lady who lived across the street. Enjoy most genres of games.