Adventure games like Wytchwood soothe my soul. It’s like being wrapped up in a warm blanket and eating butter tarts that are just slightly cooled on a wintry day. They often feature interesting characters on personal quests, which are ultimately ones of self-discovery. So it’s no surprise that when I first learned of Wytchwood back during E3 this year it was immediately added to all of my wishlists.
Our Witch wakes up from a deep slumber to find a goat destroying her little chunk of swamp. But this is no ordinary goat. It refuses to leave until the Witch completes her contract with him. As soon as she brings him the souls of twelve troublemaking animals, he’ll trot back to wherever he belongs. This means traveling through eight different areas of the world to track down manipulative jerks and get back to what’s really important. (Which is making potions from her grimoire and taking naps.)
In this case, Wytchwood blends what I love about the action adventure genre and adds a crafting element to the mix. You need to know your ABCs: Always Be Collecting/Crafting. Plenty of crafting items can be harvested from your surroundings. You’ll also collect items from any wildlife you trap and pesky creatures running amok. Learning new recipes is easy peasy. The Witch’s eyesight reveals weaknesses and other useful information. If there’s a unique item to deliver for a quest, the recipe will reveal itself should you not already have it.
The ingredients you need might not always be local. For example, you won’t find dryad hearts in the graveyard. Nor are newts hanging out in the fields. If you ever find yourself trying to remember where you collected that one missing item you need, highlighting it within the grimoire shows where to find it. If it’s another craftable item, it’s just a quick button press away. It feels like flipping the pages in a cookbook.
Exploring these areas is just wonderful. Nothing ever seems too cluttered or too barren. NPCs bustle around the city and its surrounding hubs, while the rural locales have very few people to talk to. Resources littering each section respawn at a decent rate. Which is great for farming common items like twigs (which I always seemed to need). None of the areas are too large. Finding where it is you need to go doesn’t require ten minutes of backtracking if you had to leave to find an ingredient. It’s all scored with an absolutely lovely soundtrack that perfectly fits every area visited.
I truly appreciate the way Alientrap’s writers wove these well-knowns fables into new takes for Wytchwood. The Witch does not suffer fools, but she will lend them a hand if it means erasing her debt. This makes for some entertaining dialogue and witticisms sure to leave you grinning. The twist on the “Three Little Pigs,” for example, might just be one of my favorite rewrites ever. The fact that you are free to complete the four missions within each act in the order you like is perfect. Sometimes, all you want is a little guidance and not a strict path to follow. This allowed me to advance each segment of the story as I crafted pertinent items. There is no pressure to stick to one soul’s tale at a time.
If you want the TD;LR version, here’s my elevator pitch: DeathSpank and Don’t Starve tossed in a blender with a dash of Grimm’s for good measure. It’s quirky, funny, encourages exploration and discovery, and is a great way to spend some time if you are feeling a bit burnt out on huge open world games.
Wytchwood is available on the Nintendo Switch, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, and PC.