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by Tania Dreams


Web Site

(based on 15 ratings)
6 reviews

About the Story

Middle ages left their footprints on the history of humankind: rich and poor, steel and wood, pest and wild celebrations mixed together in a one wild sauce. Technology was far from our days, but a true power existed: power, that can heal the weak and poison the strong...Witchcraft.

However, since magic was primarily perceived as bad, witches were hunted for many-many years...


Acknowledgements for testing go to: Saranya Balasubramanian, Victor Casañas

Game Details


46th Place - 28th Annual Interactive Fiction Competition (2022)


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Number of Reviews: 6
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Most Helpful Member Reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
Engaging enough, but a bit too straightforward maybe?, December 29, 2022
by Andrew Schultz (Chicago)
Related reviews: IFComp 2022

In Witchfinders, you play as a potentially suspected witch who wants to help people with their problems back in 1800: sick cattle, a fever, etc. You have a witch score that determines how suspicious you seem, and when it gets to a certain point, you're in for it. I got to the best ending with maximum points after a couple tries, as the game's well-clued for success, and as you'd suspect, generally being hush-hush helps you a lot. The strongest part to me was having to keep your methods hush-hush, even if they didn't seem particularly magical. It's pretty clear they're actually helping people overall (there's a mix of common sense and alchemy,) but you can't say it, so louder, more powerful people prevail. So everything works, logically. And I gained a favorable impression of this work, but it's one I feel has untapped upside. So I have criticisms.

Because it never really soars, and a big reason may be an uneven translation. There's an attempt at Scottish dialogue, which works to my limited ear, but then there's a more contemporary narrative voice which pervades the dialogue, so the sense of place is disrupted. For instance, at game's end, you're asked "I guess we hang out for a while here?" which was not something said before 1950. There also seem to be several translation errors–they're mistakes a native speaker wouldn't make, though it's pretty clear what the author meant to say. The inclusion of points of out 100 also feels a bit off-key. It's good to know how far along you are, but on the other hand, in a relatively slice-of-life game with no ultimate goal, a point total seems incongruous. But then there are bulletins posted that change: they describe cruelty and such, suggesting the populace does not turn a blind eye to cruelty in general, only to witches they find guilty. This shows understanding of, well, witch hunts beyond the literal boring stuff.

So much seems on-the-nosee, too. For instance, the introduction at the start. So the writer knows what they are doing, but perhaps they concentrated too much on nailing basics that didn't need to be nailed down fully. And the result is that some events that should have emotional impact don't. Nevertheless, the option of playing to sneak around or get caught provides clear replayability, and I was interested enough to. The translation is adequate, and I know translation work is very hard, even without the attempted Scottish dialogue. But with more rigorous translation, Witchfinders could gain the full flow a story like this needs. As-is, I was interested, and I got through, and there's good craftsmanship. It finished respectably, as I expected. But many things prevented full emotional interest.

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
No Good Deed Goes Unpunished, December 7, 2022
by JJ McC
Related reviews: IFComp 2022

Adapted from an IFCOMP22 Review

Very short work, giving you the role of witch in 1800’s Scotland trying to do good while evading close-minded witch finders.

Overall a pretty Spartan experience. The interface is functional, but not very evocative of its setting. Use of color is actually well done - different colors highlight three different game functions. The text has some offputting grammatical issues, like maybe a non-native English speaker or young author, but certainly forgivable. The text is functional enough, though contains few descriptive or character flourishes to establish the setting or players. Unfortunately, the relative sparsity of the text made the errors that much more prominent and memorable. Ultimately, without any textual immersion we are left with sequencing puzzles - how to fix certain problems without tipping off the Witchfinders that you are sus.

The NPC interactions are limited to problem identification and/or solving. Some action choices are contextual - options become available after you’ve heard of things – others appear to be available at time 0, even though you don’t know what they might be good for. People can be asked only one or two things, with only one or two actions available. It creates a claustrophobic world of limited possibilities that isn’t that compelling to explore.

Some responses and actions are obviously witchy, and these provide some tradeoff tensions, but others are ambushy - what seemed like a safe move still turned on you. Not outright unfair, just sour gameplay. There are really only 3 good deeds to do (that I found), one easy, one medium with tradeoffs, and one I didn’t solve after three tries. Was not really motivated for more attempts than that.

The text and/or presentation could have elevated by setting a stronger sense of environment and characters. Expanded, more interesting choices and destinations would have created a more interesting playground. Without either, definitely a Mechanical experience.

Played: 10/11/22
Playtime: 15 min, 3 playthroughs best score 60.
Artistic/Technical rankings: Mechanical/Notable
Would Play Again? No, experience seems complete

Artistic scale: Bouncy, Mechanical, Sparks of Joy, Engaging, Transcendent
Technical scale: Unplayable, Intrusive, Notable (Bugginess), Mostly Seamless, Seamless

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
Recovers from a weak beginning, November 22, 2022
by Mike Russo (Los Angeles)
Related reviews: IF Comp 2022

(This is a lightly-edited version of a review I posted to the IntFiction forums during 2022's IFComp).

There’s recently been an IntFic thread about whether or not novice authors should be warned off the default Twine style – I think mostly the Sugarcube format? – for fear of turning off potential players. There was a substantial bit of back and forth without firm conclusions being reached, but I have to say, Witchfinder’s inelegant first impression makes me pine for the old comfortable white-black-and-blue. Per another review, there’s a font mixup that means that in my web browser at least, the letters come out looking chunky and, where bolded and highlighted to indicate a link, they’re smooshed into each other in a way that impacts legibility.

Meanwhile, I’m a sucker for historical fiction but the content of the intro doesn’t reassure either:

"Edinburgh, 1827.

"Age of Enlightment gave a way to Romanticism, leaving behind medieval brutality and aspiring beauty of Reneissance.

"Scotland regained their territories and started its way into the Industrial Revolution.

The typos are unfortunate, and the breezy nods towards alternate history beyond the witchcraft identified in the blurb (like, did the Act of Union get reversed? Which territories are we talking about exactly?) didn’t fill me with confidence. Luckily, the game does bounce back from this unpromising opening, turning into a reasonably entertaining, albeit low-key, experience helping your neighbors through the power of hedge magic, but I do wish a little more care had been taken to polish things up so it could put its best foot forward.

But for the supernatural elements – and honestly, even with them – Witchfinders would be best characterized as a slice of life game. Pace the blurb’s suggestion that the protagonist will be dodging witch-hunters in a high stakes game of cat and mouse, most of what you wind up doing is running errands to heal a friend’s sick son or keep the local cattle from losing weight. You do have a “witch score” that ticks up if you arouse too much suspicion, triggering a game over when you reach four points, but while there are a couple places where the score can go up despite your best efforts, for the most part it’s easy to keep a low profile unless you’re bent on drawing attention to yourself (like, when buying a potentially-suspicious item, you can either offer an innocuous excuse, or react with hostile defensiveness. Guess which one increases the score!)

Solving these quotidian problems does require a bit of work, and indeed, it’s possible to fail at least one of them. These aren’t puzzles, exactly, since you’re typically either straightforwardly completing a task (e.g., upon being told you need willow bark, you go to the one willow tree in the area), or on the flip side, inadvertently locking yourself out of full victory (e.g. by exhausting all your options in the Esplanade before making a purchase in Lawnmarket, with no indication of why you’d need to do the one before the other). Still, the game lets you eke out a marginal victory even if you make a mistake, and replaying goes very quickly, so it’s hard to hold this against it.

For the most part the prose isn’t trying to be especially authentic, sticking to a direct, slightly anachronistic YA-ish style, but there are a couple nice touches. First, whenever you pass through the hub area, you can read a randomly-generated broadsheet which is drawn from real examples of the form, and second, there’s a butcher who speaks in – well, the author describes it as a Scottish accent, but I think towards the end this is getting into straight-up Scots:

"Aye, amurnay sure whit’s th’ issue thare, bit th’ animals we git lest time keek a bawherr puggelt.”

I was following up until the point where he started talking about a cake decorated with a naked Puggle.

Ultimately I found Witchfinders a lightweight bit of fun, and coming up on halfway through the Comp, that’s certainly nothing to sneeze at – not everything needs to swing for the fences, after all. It’s rough around the edges, sure, but there are worse things to be, and I have to say the bug that meant I scored 110 points out of a possible 100 brought a smile to my face – albeit wonkiness towards the end is always more forgivable than issues at the beginning, and not all players will be willing to give a game the benefit of the doubt after a shaky opening. Authors, make sure those first five minutes are airtight!

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
Helping people by day, brewing potions by... also day, November 5, 2022

Witchfinders is a short twine game that is, as you may have guessed, about people who find witches. The twist is, you’re not a witchfinder – you’re a witch, and the absolute last thing you want to do is get caught. The game focuses on one day in your life, where you try to use your supernatural powers for good while avoiding the watchful eye of the Inquisition.

What I Liked

First of all, this game has great cover art (which is why I’m playing it so early)! The author is also credited with drawing the cover, so hats off to them for that – they’re clearly very talented in multiple areas.

Moving on to the game, I was impressed at the amount of puzzles and pizazz Witchfinders packs into its short runtime. The puzzles are all of the get-x-ingredient-to-solve-y-problem variety, but they each have a unique and engaging framework around them that keeps them fresh. There’s even a few tasks you can do seemingly just for the hell of it (why yes, I do like raspberry tea!) I felt the world of Witchfinders was well fleshed out, and nicely balanced hope and kindness against the inherent darkness of the premise.

What I Didn’t

Balancing difficulty in social puzzles is a tricky thing, and unfortunately the puzzles in this game fall on the side of “too easy”. In each case there’s obviously-right and obviously-wrong ways to tackle each problem, so you have to go out of your way to be obvious if you want to lose. I would have liked to see some more shades of grey in the puzzle design, with third options that would attract attention at the cost of doing good.

Other Thoughts

The game uses random descriptions well to keep things fresh. I liked checking the poster and reading the spellbook each run-through to see what ridiculousness would show up next.

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
A relatively brief game about witches in Scotland, October 28, 2022
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes

This game has a brief intro about the history of Witches in Scotland, and then lets you wander around several areas with an inventory of items, taking on different quests and trying to help people while avoiding suspicion of being a witch.

This sounds like a great setup, but all of its a bit thin. Inventory doesn't really get used much, maybe once or twice. I looked around a bunch but only found one of the quests that I could finish. (I looked at the code and see I should be able to finish the other, and other reviews seem to have managed it!) There are some spelling problems (the author says it's not their native language, which is very understandable). After a while, my game just ended the day; I think it might be on a timer? And it assigned me some points.

So, overall, some good ideas, but it felt like it could be more fleshed out, I think. It had a lot of clever concepts that just didn't feel like they got fully used, to me.

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