A crafting adventure with fairytale vibes, Wytchwood may be one of the best indie 2D RPG games out there at the moment.
Wytchwood is a rustic 2D RPG adventure set in a rich story-laden land. Gothic fable-infused stories and beautifully designed areas pair to create a unique experience. Alientrap have delivered a hidden gem here. Play as a woodland hag trying to capture twelve souls to wake up a sleeping maiden and appease a possessed goat. Yes, you heard me right. Join us here at VIBE as we look into one of the best games I have played this year.
Meet The Delightful Hag
The main character is a humorous hag. The hag in question lives in a remote section of the woodlands. As a result of this, her social skills are questionable. However, her fiery attitude and hilarious responses to other characters make her a likeable rogue. Characters in Wytchwood are plentiful and their interactions with the hag are a great way to get a sense of the hag’s true intentions. Players are soon introduced to the hag’s main role in the game, which is to collect ingredients, craft, and traverse the woodlands.
In her travels, the hag meets many creatures that also inhabit the woodland. In the screenshot above, the troll is demanding a toll on a bridge and the hag must find a solution to get past it – a great example of the ‘gothic fairytale’ vibe. Other quirky creatures include a fashion-forward gargoyle and a textile-loving black sheep. Overall, they enrich the experience, as interacting with the creatures is a warming experience rather than dull.
Since Wytchwood is a 2D adventure, the cutscenes are limited and it lacks a certain cinematic caliber. However, the game makes up for this with descriptive panels which tell the story in lieu of cutscenes. Reading and processing the panels allows the player to feel immersed in the world that Wytchwood is creating. As pictured above, the panels paint an illustrative tale and create a story the player can get lost in.
Primarily, the gameplay is collecting ingredients and crafting potions. I did not find this tedious, as it allowed for exploration around the world and experimentation on which ingredients were good for what creations. If the player has a lapse in memory and struggles to find where an ingredient was, the handy Grimoire will help. The Grimoire is a tool that stores recipes and the locations of ingredients. This leads us to the actual art of crafting.
Crafting is a less hands-on experience than other parts of the game. However, the fun is in trying to expand your Grimoire to discover new spells and reagents. Most spells require more than one reagent, and therefore, the player must concoct combinations to receive the desired result. Crafting is straightforward, and once the player inevitably gets the hang of it, it becomes the handiest element of the game. Evoke your inner hag and craft to your heart’s content.
Wytchwood does have a main story. The general gist is that the hag must acquire twelve souls to wake a sleeping maiden. This is on the orders of a possessed goat, who claims she made a contract with him and this was the task she needed to fulfill. Collecting the souls is a very unique and intriguing storyline. Each soul encountered has a dark and brooding backstory and leaves the player excited to learn more.
Adorable Art Style
The adorable art style of Wytchwood is enough to warm the heart of any player. Appropriate colour palettes for each location help amplify this. For example, the fields pictured above have warm autumn tones such as cinnamon and dark green for vegetation. The allure of the artstyle is what personally drove me to purchase the game. The design of some of the characters has a macabre feel to it and really drives home the ‘gothic fable’ overtones the game boasts. Locations in the game are expertly designed to encapsulate where they are. For example, there is a graveyard that has sinister and spooky colours and noises, with ghosts and ghouls wandering around. This mesmerises the player and opens them up to the unique art style of Wytchwood.
Dark and Sinister Events
The game is not predominantly a happy frolic through the woods. Players, when encountering the souls they must acquire, are faced with some horrific tales. For example, the leech pictured above is posing as a doctor in a sick house. As the player progresses, they learn the leech was in fact inflicting patients with the plague in order to drain their blood. Other souls encountered have equally sinister backstories. This is a welcome change of pace from the straightforward woodland adventures some games paint.
Wytchwood does not have a defined combat interaction. However, the player will face several hostile creatures in their travels. The game has a unique way of fusing the crafting gameplay with combat. The hag must use her skills of insight to identify the weaknesses of creatures and craft the right reagent or spell to defeat them. This is often a requirement to gain certain ingredients on your quest.
Wytchwood‘s quests are rich with story and break up the pace of crafting and ingredient-collecting. The quests are broken up into sections as well. For example, the player is first invited to seek out just the first four souls; only when they have them can they embark on the remaning three, as well as explore some brand new locations. Each quest introduces new quirky characters, spells and reagents, creatures, and aspects of gameplay. Overall, the game is not difficult. It is a quaint and enjoyable experience not requiring any sort of strenuous thought – one of the reasons this game was so well-received.
A feature of the game I have to praise is the fast travel option. The game has seven main areas, including the home base, and trying to traverse from each one would often take some thought and backtracking. However, the game has cleverly featured a fast travel section. This allows the hag to reach destinations promptly. This is exceptional if you are trying to backtrack to source ingredients or go back to speak to a character. The fast travel does require the player to find the entry points before they will appear in the fast travel base. It’s only fair the player was required to work for it.
A warm thank you for allowing me to share one of the best indie gems I have experienced in a while. Wytchwood is available across the majority of platforms now. If you are interested in finding out more about the game, don’t forget to visit their official website: https://whitethorngames.com/wytchwood. Furthermore, please check out the trailer below for some actual clips from the game. Keep your eyes peeled for the next indie game we at VIBE are set to review.
26, Indie Game connoisseur. Also a hamster mum, fiancée & working in the addiction field. Gaming and writing are my escape and comfort for when the world gets too much!