I love indie games–there’s a freedom in storytelling and game mechanics in most indie titles that you don’t often see in more mainstream games. It doesn’t mean that every indie is a masterpiece–but most have something to contribute to video games, especially if they’re a hybrid of wacky ideas that end up working. Trigger Witch is one of those games that has a great idea and comes extremely close to getting the execution right–but not quite.
Trigger Witch is a top-down twin stick shooter with puzzle elements. Think something like The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past in gameplay and exploration, but instead of swords and sorcery, you yield firearms using the mystical art of Ballisticism. The game starts as you graduate from your training and begin the trial called “The Gauntlet.” Once completed, you’re allowed into the sacred order of “The Clip”–a group of witches that practice Ballisticism, which replaced all of the conventional magic arts.
If that premise seems absolutely silly, that’s because it is: Trigger Witch doesn’t take itself very seriously but still somehow manages to earnestly set up its world and conflict. The world of Trigger Witch is cute and pastoral, all pixel-rendered and adorable. That is, until you start shooting. Enemies that are magic mushrooms brought to life and Nintendo-like whimsical beasts stand no chance against your hail of bullets. While Trigger Witch isn’t exactly gratuitous, it was certainly surprisingly the first time I attacked enemies to see them turned into blood smears and gore. It does have some entertaining combat, though.
All of your problems in Trigger Witch can be solved with guns–and that’s fun. Even the puzzles require shooting, sometimes using certain crystals to deflect bullets or have them bounce along convoluted paths. Some puzzles require precise timing or fast movement to get through. There’s a dash that helps you move around quickly, and it’s also used in combat as a dodge move, giving you invincibility for the short duration its active.
As much fun and charm Trigger Witch has within its first hour or so, I quickly started to get bored and even frustrated by it. The first few tasks you have to perform require you to collect items from dungeons, but I’m not a fan of Trigger Witch‘s dungeons–which is, unfortunately, most of its gameplay. While I enjoy the puzzles and even the combat, Trigger Witch requires lots of exploration to continue. And not fun exploration, but the backtracking, key hunting sort. Every dungeon I was in required me to backtrack at least once to find a key I left in a seemingly arbitrary room.
As much as I like the concept of Trigger Witch, it really took a lot of effort for me to continue playing it. My initial delight at its premise and mechanics faded once I found myself searching for my fourth key–an antiquated game mechanic that could have been padded by more interesting dungeon design. Trigger Witch isn’t a bad game by any means–it has fun weapons and gunplay and some decent puzzles–its charm just fades fast.