Have you played this game?You can rate this game, record that you've played it, or put it on your wish list after you log in.
Playlists and Wishlists
RSS FeedsNew member reviews
Updates to external links
All updates to this page
About the Story
You’re typically a sober-minded upstanding elf but last night you were out a little too late and had a little too much mead. This morning you woke up wedged in a tree in the woods outside of town with a splitting headache. Thanks to your late-night escapades, though, you luckily avoided the previous night’s calamity when a powerful witch swept in and snatched away all the other elves in your village. Now, you’re the only one left to save them. Time is short, however, for the the witch is lurking and she’ll be back at sunset for any stragglers.
66th Place - 29th Annual Interactive Fiction Competition (2023)
|Average Rating: |
Number of Reviews: 3
Write a review
I played this game because it was a ‘longer than two hours’ parser adventure, so one that I would consider might be difficult to complete.
You play as an elf in a village that has suddenly been kidnapped en masse by a witch. You have to look through all the elves’ abandoned houses and workplaces and get the tools and items you need!
This game can be pretty tricky. I made two attempts in playing. In the first, I carefully explored, and discovered some locations where timing was essential. For instance, there is a mine with a lamp, and the lamp has a limited battery. I had to save and undo several times to get that right. Then there were a few other ways for objects to get lost forever.
Increasing the difficulty was a carrying limit, so I had to drop things at different times. There were a lot of containers I could throw things in, but those too had a carrying capacity. Sometimes containers got weird (I had a jug of mead and at one point I was carrying the mead outside of the jug). I’ve had my own issues implementing liquids in containers though so I know how it is!
Unfortunately, after I had escaped and got a bit stuck and turned to the walkthrough, I couldn’t find something mentioned in it while I was wandering up and down the river and, to my sadness, I hit the turn limit and died at about 50 points.
The turn limit seems like a fixed limit, around 600 moves, and so there was no way to undo far enough to keep going. I had to start over, and, fearing similar problems, followed the walkthrough precisely this time.
Before using the walkthrough, I encountered a maze that was actually pretty neat. It’s a ‘twisty little passages’ maze (i.e. a maze where all rooms are identical, or almost so, and going back the way you came doesn’t always take you forward), but the only directions are UP and DOWN, so you have to navigate your way through. I reminded me of the cramped/claustrophobic area in Andrew Plotkin’s So Far a bit.
Some of the puzzles after turning to the walkthrough seemed really hard to solve, especially the finale; I wonder if there are hints you can find elsewhere that can help you with them.
I’ve attached a transcript. It has some bugs in it I’ve marked here and there. Overall, I was glad to beat the witch!
The Witch is a fairly difficult parser where you must save the snatched villagers, though how to do so or solve the puzzles along the way is not quite clear. There are limits in both the inventory and turn count. The entry does not include an in-game help or hint system, but an external transcript walkthrough is included. I reached a total of 60 points before stopping playing (using the walkthrough for help).
Knowing my (in)aptitude in playing parsers, I wasn't expecting to sweep through the puzzles and reach the end easy-peasy. I just hoped to be able to solve at least one puzzle all by myself. It became quickly apparent I wouldn't be able to do much by myself without the walkthrough either.
Aside from the blurb, the game gives you little indication of what you are supposed to do. You are essentially dropped in this world, left to your own devices. You can explore the world, pick some stuff up, interact with elements around you... and hope for the best. I found myself running around the world, and ended up stuck in some sort of tree that wouldn't let me leave*.
*was there a hint somewhere about the order of actions you should input?
Going through the rooms, I kept wondering if I missed some clue or if there was some context about the game or story I should have known about or found before getting to certain locations. It kind of felt you had to do quite a bit of guesswork... and that was a bit frustrating.
The game was not meant with beginners in mind. More experienced parsers will probably have a more enjoyable time than I did and probably find the puzzles ingenious.
I ended up liking The Witch quite a bit more than I started out liking it. It does a lot of stuff early on to make you bounce off of it, from having a map full of empty locations (most of them, unfortunately, in the beginning) to failing to implement prominent nouns.
What also made me consider quitting was the first puzzle I solved. (Spoiler - click to show)I get the sign, went to the beaver, brought it to the tree, get ten points… and then, happy as I was, typed ‘score’ and read that my puzzle solution had made the game unwinnable. As this was literally the first thing I did in the game, I found it rather discouraging!
But I persevered, and as I went on, I actually started liking the game more and more. The setting is more fun that it at first appears, with many neat little touches of world building and some good descriptions, especially around puzzle solutions. It also made sense, once I came across the mill, that my little adventure (Spoiler - click to show)with the beaver had the undesirable result it had. I came to appreciate the ‘score’ message as a helpful guide to what made the game unwinnable. And I started solving some of the puzzles, such as the mill and the mine, without hints, which made me feel good. These puzzles are not completely groundbreaking, but they are fresh enough to be fun. And the programming is very solid.
I wasn’t able to finish the game without hints, though, and that had mostly to do with implementation – so I strongly suggest that Charles returns to the game and make some changes based on what I’m going to say now, because it can greatly improve the experiences of future players. (Spoiler - click to show)(1) The owl puzzle could be better clued. Showing the seed leads to death, okay. But the current behaviour of the seed is rather overwhelming: dropping it anywhere in the game leads to instant death. This does not suggest that it’s possible to throw it at the owl in its den, given that the owl can instantaneously move to the other side of the map to kill me! I wasted quite some time trying to protect myself with a bucket on my head and things like that. Perhaps the seed should simply do nothing outside of the tree; and perhaps it can be a bit better clued that you might have the time to throw it. (2) I had the exact right idea with growing the peach tree, but “put plant food on peach pit” gives an error message, and so I abandoned the idea. This should probably just work! I also think it would be good to have a more positive message for dropping the pit at that location, and maybe allowing something like “put peach in mud”. (3) I also got stuck with ‘apricot’, but that was more my own fault for not being a thorough enough old-school adventure player. But it might be a bit better clued that you need to say a password to the mirror. I spent time trying to show it different objects. (4) When I crossed the river for the end game, the game told me that it had become unwinnable. But it hadn’t! I could still win, using the exact chain of commands in the walkthrough. I had all the right objects with me. Not sure what was going on there. (5) I’m not sure if I would have ever solved the final puzzle, but I love the idea of it: the race through the maze and the final imprisonment. Perhaps it would have bee nice to put an object somewhere in the maze over which the player trips the first time they go there? That would be a great clue.
All in all, I think The Witch is a really neat game. It has gotten a fairly cold shoulder in the reviews, which is unfortunate. Solving some of the implementation issues in the early game, and improving cluing of a few of the puzzles, could go a long way though. You’ll never get the love of people who don’t like difficult parser games, but you sure can get the love of those who do. It’s all solid, well thought out, and with some seriously good puzzle ideas.