“A Witch’s Tale” Review

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Wow. I can’t believe it’s been nine months since I reviewed a game. Surely I’ve played more than that? Granted, I’ve been spending a lot of time playing games I’ve already beaten to completion (like BlazBlue and Brutal Legend), but I know I’ve beaten new games, too (like Recettear). Oh well.

This time, I played through A Witch’s Tale to get into the Halloween spirit.

Gameplay: 3/10 – It’s pretty awful. There’s very little here that’s worth mentioning as a positive. The game is controlled entirely by the stylus and touch screen, making it incredibly difficult to see what you’re doing half the time since your hand is in the way. You can’t simply cast ancient magic. Every time you do, you have to trace a rune on the screen without lifting your hand. The problem is that the traceable area is rarely accurate and you never know how much room you have for error on any given edge. Some shapes are also incredibly difficult to trace without lifting your hand. For example, the ice spell has you trace a * shape, which means you have to double back a lot. If you mess up, then you have to do it all over again. Some shapes, like the fire spell, seem unnecessarily complex. In addition to these flaws, the game starts off incredibly difficult. You only have the main character, Liddell, and her starting doll, Dayna. Enemies in the very first world tend to curbstomp your face constantly until you start gaining some levels. In fact, even after you start gaining additional dolls and leveling, the game remains almost brutally difficult due to the high enemy HP. This only starts to change once you get enough MP to cast ancient magic 4-5 times. At this point, you can wipe out large groups of enemies with ease since the game starts you with the neutral-element ancient magic and you’ll always level up before you run out of MP. From this point on, the game becomes boringly easy with very little challenge. Even by the end of my first cycle, I was hitting the damage cap long before the end of the game. Even if the game continued to be difficult, you almost always have a Tomato item somewhere in your inventory. This item will completely revive your entire party to full HP and MP and deal 3000 damage to all enemies if you happen to lose. As such, the two times I lost a fight in the game (the first world’s boss and the last world’s unbalanced boss), I actually won because I got revived to full. In fact, the Tomato was the finishing blow on both. I never once got a Game Over in this game. Random battles are also far too common. This isn’t such a big deal the first time through as you can use the experience, but in the second cycle, enemies will rarely give you more than a few experience points in the first world, leading to a huge waste of time. It’s also ridiculously difficult to run from battle. Even if you’re in Burst Mode and you have a free turn to attack the enemy at the start of the battle, you can’t guarantee an escape. Additionally, you’re only allowed to carry up to nine of up to seven individual item types into battle, despite your inventory allowing you carry more than nine and as many individual item types as you have. This limitation is frustrating as most healing items aren’t that good, especially by the end of the game when your characters have several thousand HP and MP and unless you sit down to farm ingredients for Miracle Pills, you’re not going to get by with what you’re carrying around. Story goes in this category, too, leaving me with even more points to take off. The story is fine through most of the game, but by the end, nothing is really resolved. In fact, the same amount of stuff remains unresolved through the game’s second ending as well. It actually adds even more questions. It’s a big, sloppy mess. I do have to give credit for how it plays out until the end, though, as well as the characters. They’re well designed and have definite personalities. That’s pretty much where the only points for Gameplay are coming from.

Graphics: 6.5/10 – I have to give the game some credit for its graphical presentation. It has a lot of wonderful hand-drawn images for several occasions. The character sprites are nice, but are unfortunately not well animated. They very rarely do anything, which is fine because it’s hard to tell when they are doing something since you have to read on the top screen and you often can’t see what’s going on in the bottom screen since you have to tap it just to move the dialogue forward. Your hand is in the way and your focus is elsewhere. The spell designs are simple, but varied. Level designs are nice, but quite repetitive. Fortunately, there are multiple areas in each world, each with its own style and theme, so there’s some decent variation. Each world follows a style and the game has a general Halloween theme on top of that, so there’s a lot of interesting designs presented here. Unfortunately, looking good is about all the game has going for it, and it’s not really that great looking.

Sound: 4.5/10 – The sound here is pretty subpar. Aside from Vic Mignogna having a couple of lines as some character I can’t even identify on the title screen, there’s no voice acting to speak of. The sound effects are fairly bland and don’t vary much between spells like the graphics do. The music is good, but it can get very repetitive. This is especially true of the battle music, which has a very slow start. Playing the game with headphones, I expected better sound quality than playing through the DS’s pitiful speakers, but unfortunately what I ended up with was a lot of grainy noise and high-pitched sounds in certain tracks (like the Gate Room). I’m giving the game credit for having some nice world BGMs, but I can’t give it many points for anything else.

Overall: 4.7/10 – Really just not a good game. 4.7 speaks for itself: Just below average. I had a good time playing it, but I will seriously never play it again. There’s absolutely zero incentive to. It’s just not that great of a game. It has too many problems and I’ve already played through it twice just to do everything (and the second time felt like a waste because almost nothing was different except one scene in the middle and the extremely short last area). I can’t honestly recommend this one unless you absolutely must have a loli witch RPG. Don’t get me wrong, I love lolis, witches, and RPGs, but nothing good really came out of this combination.

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5 Responses to ““A Witch’s Tale” Review”

  1. Ghost writer Says:

    Came across this randomly while going through my 4th run through (yes 4th) of this game, and I have to say I disagree with you in terms of gameplay and overall score. I highly enjoy this game and find the controls fun and a innovative way of using the touch screen. In regards to you saying that your hands got in the way of the touchscreen, I don’t have that problem at all and my hands are by no means small. I also disagree with you on the difficulty curb and the item issue. Frankly my very first play through of this game I didn’t even equip a second doll until I got to the third world when I found out I could. That just made the swarms I found easy even easier. The only time I died/came close to dying was when I fought Loue, and that was only because I cast a abyss spell while he was using magic reflect. With items, yeah it was slightly annoying that I could only use 7 at most but honestly I was killing most encounters in 2-3 rounds so I tended to forget I could use items in battle. I only had to start to rely on hp items around world 5 and 6, and by then then I had enough demon pills and the like from random encounters that I never became short. As for random encounters, they happen waaay less than what happens in your average pokemon game. They happen just enough that you can level no problem, but not enough to distract you from any puzzle solving. Storywise, I liked it. It was a interesting spin on a classic tale, and it honestly follows your average formula for any jrpg. While I do have a question or two left, it honestly just made me want a sequel to come out more than anything else. First play through I’d give it a 8 or 9/10, and after that it settles at a 7.5/10 since I love blowing monsters up with the expa spell. With your review, I’d say that honestly this isn’t your sort of game rather than that the game was bad. Component wise, I’d say this game is a dungeon crawl mad up of a mash up of Zelda-esqe puzzles, Okami type of fighting and playing (depending on if you have the wii or ps2 version), and a Pokemon like encounter rate. If any of those games aren’t your style, then you probably won’t like. Like sonic and the secret rings or epic mickey. A lot of people dislike those games, while I personally love them since they fit my taste in games. Anyway, I doubt you’ll ever read this but wanted to throw in my 2 cents because I could.

    • Daverost Says:

      Well I’m sorry you feel that way, but honestly my score is pretty in line with most professional reviews.

      http://www.metacritic.com/game/ds/a-witchs-tale

      The game just isn’t very good. I’m glad you found some enjoyment where I couldn’t, but you’re definitely one of the few who did. I mean, it’s a Hit Maker game. Even NISA realized Hit Maker games weren’t very good and dropped them.

  2. Ghost Writer Says:

    Lol. So wasn’t expecting a response but kind of happy I did. Nice of you to take out some of your time to reply. Only natural that I should do the same in return. Now let’s get started.

    http://www.metacritic.com/game/ds/a-witchs-tale/critic-reviews

    Not exactly sure why you pulled out the critic reviews, but since you did….Averaging out the scores, yes they agree with you. Now let’s break it down a bit. Going by ratings, Game Chronicles and ZTGameDomain agree with me with a 7, 8 critics have it in the 6 range, and the last 7 agree with you in the 5- range so going just on face value you’re still in the lead. Let’s delve a bit deeper now shall we? Looking through these reviews and a few other reviews posted by various people, a lot of what I got was that people liked the game but abhorred the battle system which is why, and here’s the key part, they scored it low.

    That’s completely understandable. The battle system is a integral part of a game so if it fails for you then so does the game. I honestly had my issues with the battle system too, but what saved it for me and made it fun was drawing the abyss runes, since it made it seemed like I was actually casting a spell rather than putting a icon in a slot, and figuring out which element each monster was weak against. You obviously felt differently, but since it’s a part of the battle system I left it alone. Everything else you said was debatable.

    Your gripe about the stylus play seemed to stem from the fact that you would rather have been able to move around with or given the option to move around the d-pad instead because the entire time I played, I had full view of what I was doing. If you had instead mentioned about the fact that moving between area to area at times got glitchy with the stylus since you had to have it at the edge of the touch screen, or that sometimes when you had to tap on a person or object to interact with it that it failed to register and you had to tap the touch screen multiple times I would have left that part alone. With the difficulty curve, yes I did see some reviews that thought the 1st world was hard but the reviews that thought the entire game was easy far outweigh them. For me worlds 1-3 got crushed by expa alone. It was only during worlds 4-6, mainly in the boss fights in 4, that I found myself searching to see which element does the most damage to conserve my mp to fight more effectively. Still I came no where near close to dying and the Eld Witch fight was my easiest fight. Finally with the items. Yeah only carrying seven in battle is annoying, but it makes you think more strategically about the items you bring to battle so it adds to the game rather than detracts. As for Hp issues, one of the first dolls you get Balloy automatically comes with a healing spell. Then in world 3 you pick up Peso who can heal you a thousand times better so Hp is never really an issue.

    It is because of this that I think that it just wasn’t your type of game more than anything else. With everyone else it all seemed to come down to whether they liked/can get past the battle system or not. Also, though I’m not trying to be picky, the fact that it’s a hit maker game = it’s a bad game isn’t a great argument. Shadow the Hedgehog is only one of many great counterexamples.

  3. Anon Says:

    No offense, but the gameplay review was pretty much you complaining about how difficult the game was. Not actually about the story. It was mentioned, but only for a line or two. Henry Jenkins said, “The worst thing a kid can say about homework is that it is too hard. The worst thing a kid can say about a game is it’s too easy.” It seems that you think differently. I’m sorry you didn’t enjoy the game as much as some other people, myself included… However, giving a game a bad review because it was difficult isn’t the best way to do things. Besides, I for one, did not die at all throughout the entire game. Not once. On my very first play through.

    • Daverost Says:

      I disagree that it was “pretty much” about the difficulty. I noted a number of other issues including bad design and terrible balance. The rest of the game was pretty awful too, gameplay aside. It’s just that I felt the gameplay was the worst of it.

      I’m impressed that you didn’t find the game that difficult, because most people do. But your experience doesn’t invalidate mine or anyone else’s. And I think the game is trash and deserves a negative review. I think I’ve been pretty generous in giving it the middle-ground score it got.

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