Review: Witching Tower
A well-balanced fantasy adventure.
With plenty of fantasy-based virtual reality (VR) adventures on offer, VR gamers are spoilt for choice. Titles such as The Mage’s Tale, The Unspoken, Left-hand Path, The Wizards and more all excel in providing deeply engrossing experiences for those who love to wield the arcane arts. The latest to enter this genre comes from Daily Magic Productions with a glossy, narrative-driven escapade called the Witching Tower, which offers plenty of sword combat with a light smattering of magical overtones.
Much like classic fairy tales and Disney stories, the Witching Tower features a narrative involving an evil Queen who controls the undead, and a young girl with magical powers that the Queen wants for her own nefarious ends. Finding yourself imprisoned at the top of a dark tower your quest is to work your way down through it heavily guarded hallways and make a break for freedom.
With role-playing game (RPG) style elements, the Witching Tower has been kept fairly bare bones in its character presentation. As is becoming commonplace with VR titles there’s no HUD to speak of cluttering your vision, helping keep a truer sense of immersion throughout the experience. What you do have is a belt that contains all your necessary inventory items as you locate them.
From swords and bows to flaming torches they all snap reasonably well to your waist and will automatically return there if dropped on the floor. A wrist mount pouch offers further slots for more of the throwaway items like bombs or puzzle related objects. While the videogame can be played seated it’s not recommended if possible, as the belt sometimes twists meaning access to items like the sword or torch can be frustratingly difficult to grab, especially when caught off guard by an enemy.
Another aspect that can be somewhat twitchy is movement. For these style of VR adventure’s the best way to explore is via the smooth locomotion, rather than hopping about via teleportation. In the Witching Tower smooth locomotion works well enough but there are moments – walking through doorways, or up and down steps – where you seem to get caught on invisible objects, either slightly stuttering movement or stopping it completely. This is one of those rare moments where teleporting around just makes life that little bit easier.
This doesn’t even particularly hinder those moments in combat where it’s normally easier to step backwards or strafe. Most of the enemies can be dispatched with a few blows of the sword – which can also be used for blocking – or when you have a height advantage just use the bow to whittle down their numbers. That being said, the bow isn’t as nice to use as the ones found in Apex Construct or In Death, its mechanics just don’t feel as taught or accurate.
As for the magic side of the Witching Tower, this generally comes down to two options. A lasso for grabbing distant objects and a special ghostly vision to help see enemies and puzzle clues. As mentioned there is combat involved but most of the time you’ll be solving puzzles to continue the story. They tend not to be overly convoluted, with the difficulty set well enough that most players shouldn’t get stuck for any length of time.
One aspect Daily Magic Productions has done a commendable job with is the visuals. Even on the lower settings the Witching Tower is richly detailed and atmospheric, with some beautiful stained glass windows and dark foreboding dungeons.
All in all the Witching Tower is a reasonably solid VR experience throughout. It’s not overly long but there are secrets to find for those completionists out there which help stretch the gameplay that bit further. While it doesn’t break new ground or offer anything too unique, the Witching Tower is still an enjoyable title for those who love this genre of videogame.