A Witch’s Tale

October 26, 2009

A Witch’s Tale is for kids. Oh yes, it is for kids. Why is it for kids? Because it is the easiest RPG ever made. And how is it the easiest RPG ever made? You are invincible. The control scheme is completely 100% stylus, nothing else. Your party members are buff, you basically can’t die, and you simply plow through. If challenge or the puzzle of how to beat an annoying boss is your thing, look elsewhere. And you can run from random encounters. All of them. Every time.

So what else is there? There is that unique setting, theme, and art style, and A Witch’s Tale doesn’t pull punches with its flair. The lands are Halloween, Gothic, spooky and fairy-tale all in one, and the characters, combat, and story never stray in theme. Unlike other RPGs, there isn’t a multiplicity of worlds or a change of the cosmos or planet–just a romp through the woods, like a kid’s story should be.

But even as a kid’s story, A Witch’s Tale falls flat, and it’s a disappointment because the story is its best hope at being a quality original game. The main character, Liddell, skips school to snoop around a castle, hearing tales of untold power lying within. She wants to become the world’s most powerful witch and is willing to open a sealed tome that has held an evil witch for 1,000 years. A vampire, Loue, stood guard, but was asleep the whole time. So when Liddell opens this Pandora’s box, it’s like, the end of the freaking world right? Well, it should be, but Liddell also gains powers and becomes tutored by Loue, who tells her that she needs to fix her mistake in the tone a parent would tell a child to clean up spilled Kool-Aid.

The crazy thing is that a girl makes the mistake of releasing an evil entity that could destroy the world, but no one gets that upset, even though the kingdoms’ princesses will stay captured and the world will be conquered by a dark force, standard-RPG-doom-and- gloom stuff. But Liddell is a brat, the exact kind of child that makes you hate children, the kind that makes you wonder how loveable you yourself were as a child, the kind that makes you thankful you no longer attend the last school you attended. And she could be taught a lesson, many lessons in fact, and it could have been done with style and in a unique setting and in a video game instead of a movie or book. What attempts there are at lessons are shallow, and the twists are easily predictable to the adult mind.

The art’s fine, the world is unique, the characters are shallow and predictable (by RPG standards, if you can imagine that), the maps are extremely simple and squarish, and the combat is so simple (and protracted; why would your first random creature take 8 hits to kill?) that there is no fun in the grind. Kids who don’t know better will be enchanted by the world of A Witch’s Tale, but this is not one of those family-oriented title that will suck in adults.

ESRB: E. Only thing that might upset you is Liddell’s skanky getup, which you can see on the cover and in a screenshot.

Pros: Unique setting and theme, manages to not be too JRPGish

Cons: So easy it makes the grind even more grindy, shallow characters and writing, cheap lessons

Score: 2/5

Questions? Check out our review guide.