A Witch’s Tale: Hunt For The Eld Witch

By Ishaan . November 9, 2009 . 5:42pm

image Covering games, you learn something new about entertainment media everyday. For instance, did you know there’s a genre of art dubbed "neo-gothic surrealism"? Think Tim Burton’s A Nightmare Before Christmas.


A Witch’s Tale, developed by Hit Maker and published by NIS America, falls into this category as well. It’s a turn-based RPG with a Halloween-esque setting surrounding princesses, witches and vampires.


What makes it unique?


The art, undoubtedly. For a lo-res game created entirely using hand-drawn sprites, A Witch’s Tale looks really smooth. Jaggies are barely noticeable. Thematically, it’s very gothic but that didn’t prevent the art team from using a wide range of colours and letting their imaginations go crazy with the environments. You’ll come across spooky castles, creepy looking undead towns and early on, a city made entirely out of waffles and candy. It really does look reminiscent of a Tim Burton product and in fact, it draws quite a lot of inspiration from Alice in Wonderland. You can tell this is where the majority of the development team’s effort went; it’s a beautiful looking game.


Is there a story?


There is! Liddell is an (initially) spoilt witch-in training, who aspires to become the greatest witch of all time. In her attempts to do so, she accidentally releases the evil Eld Witch, who was sealed away by Queen Alice — a saviour who brought piece to the land 1,000 years ago. Liddell and Loue, the vampire assigned to guard the Eld Witch’s seal, head out to find a way to defeat the Eld Witch once more. That’s the gist of it.


image How does it play?


A Witch’s Tale is a fairly traditional random battles / turn-based combat RPG with a few curious design choices. For one, everything is controlled via the touch screen. Buttons don’t do anything in this game…at all. Walking, fighting battles, searching for items are all handled using the stylus.


Walking around occasionally causes a black claw to spring out of the ground and grab you, which triggers a random battle. You can have up to three party members active in battle at once: Liddell and two of her dolls. These dolls are scattered throughout the land and once you find one, it can fight alongside you. You can also choose in what order you’d like your party members to act.


The four main actions in battle are: Attack (melee), Magic, Item and Escape, and all four are represented by icons on the touch screen. In order to use magic against enemies, you’ll have to tap the Magic icon, which will bring up the "revolver." The revolver contains different magic runes, which you can cycle through. In order to use a magic spell, you’ll need to drag and drop its rune to the appropriate enemy icon. The different elements are: Thunder, poison, ice, plant, fire and water. Attacking is done the same way — drag and drop the Attack icon over to whichever enemy you want to hit.


image Eventually, you’ll learn how to use ancient magic, which it seems is where the touch screen idea originally stemmed from. Once you have access to ancient magic, you’ll be required to trace rune patterns using the touch screen, which will do more damage than usual to enemies. Naturally, it also costs a lot more MP, so you’ll need to be careful in how you use it because Lidell and her party members share a common MP bar.


Exploration and hunting for items are handled via the touch screen as well. The different areas in A Witch’s Tale have objects blocking your path at a lot of places, and you can break them by tapping them with the stylus, similar to The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass. Sometimes, you’ll find items by breaking objects apart, other times you’ll get nothing. The problem is, walking around and clearing a path using the stylus doesn’t feel necessary since the game isn’t an adventure like Zelda. The touch screen controls feel a little "draggy" and while you eventually get used to using the stylus for combat, it still feels a slow and unnecessary. It’s great that there’s a healthy selection of magic elements to choose from but cycling through them with the stylus is a bit of a hassle. Really, the only time the touch screen ever feels necessary is for using ancient magic.


image The other odd choice is the encounter rate. I couldn’t tell if it was dependent on the area I was in, but the random encounters spiked at times and dropped at others. Sometimes I’d run into enemies every three steps, while at others, I could explore nearly the entire map without having to fight. This might have been a measure to keep the game from feeling too grindy but it didn’t quite work out the way Hit Maker intended, if that is the case.


A Witch’s Tale feels a little shallow and doesn’t pose much of a challenge at all. The longer you play, the shorter battles get. The game is really easy and there isn’t much to keep you interested in its design, unless you’re really keen to know what happens to the Eld Witch.

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  • Eddie

    I was waiting for someone to speak about this. I was thinking about getting it but now I think i will pass. The artwork looks great though but then again thats what got me interested.

  • MisterNiwa

    Hm.. I don’t know but…
    Arent there more Traditional Role Playing Games out on NDS than on any other console?

    I mean.. i liked it, really, but since some time… No, just no.

    I cant wait to get Zelda next month.

  • for an rpg lover like me, i will never get tired of getting rpgs for any console! (all consoles but xbox that is >_>)

    • I’m sorry, but I really don’t understand this comment. 0_o?

  • JeremyR

    Ugh. I hate RPGs that don’t have button support. Buttons have been perfectly fine for 20+ years, at least give us the option.

  • Plethora22

    I personally would not recommend it. Its really the first NIS game (developed by OR merely published by) that I haven’t enjoyed at all. By the way, first post, hi all! :)

    • speedstersonic

      Hah, love the Doctor Who pic!

    • I’m actually playing through Atelier Annie as well at the moment, which is more enjoyable. Witch’s Tale had a ton of potential; Hit Maker just never tapped into it. The setting could’ve made for a great RPG that catered to a slightly older crowd, which would’ve allowed them to take some liberties with the narrative, too.

      Oh, and welcome to the site!

      • speedstersonic

        Hey, that is exactly what I’m playing as well. It’s a very good game. Didn’t think I’d like it cause it’s more of a sim, but damn if it isn’t addicting, and once you get into the level 20s and learn characters’ skills, the battles actually gets more complicated. I love that game!

      • Ereek

        Atelier Annie is definitely great. I was surprised at how good it was, considering it’s purely a small side-story. Mediocre battle system aside, everything else is quite fun. I’ve only played through it once so far, but I can see it having very high replay value.

        Also, the graphics are adorable.

      • Plethora22

        I’m playing Atelier Annie as well! It is definitely enjoyable, though I have to admit for some reason its really giving me the urge to go back and play Rune Factory some more… lol

  • Pichi

    Love the art style. Don’t mind if its on the easy side of things, so I’ll give it a go.

  • I thought this was terrible. The art style is great but the ‘dungeons’ use heavy tiling which spoils it. You’re given directions like “over there” by NPCs on screens with 4 exits and you’re never quite clear where you’re supposed to be going.

    The battle system is awful. It’s not only painfully easy, it’s very very slow. Forced use of the stylus stops you button bashing. Both you and the enemies do pitiful damage so they take an age. Couple this with a high encounter rate and very maze like dungeons (complete with a Zelda style key system that forces backtracking) and it takes a strong will to keep playing.

    Played it for a couple of hours and haven’t put the game in my DS since. A real disappointment

    • superdry

      I’m currently playing the game on my DS. So, far I like it, but also don’t like it at the same time.

      It’s a pretty traditional, old-school style console RPG. I really like the turn based combat which is why it seems slow (classic turn base is suppose to be like that). I personally like to sit there and contemplate my next move without worrying about what the enemy is going to do while I’m trying to do something.

      I agree though that the game is easy (well…get’s easier as you play as the beginning is a little more difficult). The backtracking and wandering does get annoying as you can’t progress until you do something to unlock the next fetch-quest. My biggest complaint since it is on a portable system is the lack of a quick-save as I like to play the game on my commute and you can’t save anywhere.

      I’m going to finish the game because I like the fact that it is a little more on the old-school side (kind of hard to find those type of RPGs nowadays) without being so brutal like Etrian Odyssey or The Dark Spire and the story and writing, so far, is pretty cute and fun.

  • MadMirko

    Hm. I haven’t even thought about this one, Hit Maker / NIS made me immediately dismiss it.

    After the playtest I’m kinda interested, though. It sounds like an ideal filler game that doesn’t demand full attention. That’s handy sometimes, so I’m off bargain hunting.

  • Thanks for all the clever insight, Ishaan. I can’t see myself getting around to this for a long time and if I never play it, I may not feel so bad. Perhaps an Art Book for the game would be a nice purchase. I really am torn when a game ONLY allows for stylus controls.

    • Yea, at times, it feels like they were very much going for a Phantom Hourglass kind of experience but then switched to the current design part of the way through development. That’s the only reason I can think of that they wouldn’t include button controls at all because really, there is absolutely no benefit to using the stylus in this game (other than the ancient magic).

      • Quixzlizx

        The game was originally in development to be an action-RPG.

        • This is truth. Same goes for Last Rebellion. Not sure why Hit Maker likes changing their A-RPGs into turn-based, but that’s their latest trend.

  • Kris

    The art looks pretty great, shame the rest of the game didn’t fare as well…
    I might get it as a bargain bin purchase when I get a replacement DS.

  • Joanna

    hmmm. I’ll still keep an eye out for it when it gets a little cheaper. I don’t really like stylus only RPGs, but I think I can manage to enjoy it so long as it was bargain price.

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