Remedial Witchcraft

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Number of Reviews: 6
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1-6 of 6

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
Quick, witchy fun, October 23, 2020

Spent about an hour this evening on this pleasant, funny story with a delightful theme. The one hint I got was clever and didn't make me feel like I'd "cheated". Good mechanics without any tedium.

The atmosphere was light but contributed to the overall mood. (Do we get to learn more about witch's court---presumably a kind of night court---and why they hex people who lose lawsuits? No, of course not.)

Towards the end, I fought a bit with the parser. (Spoiler - click to show)I had to go the walkthrough to be sure I was really at the end, after spending five minutes to try different approaches.

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful:
Fairly directed magical puzzler, January 1, 2020

In Remedial Witchcraft you play as an inexperienced practitioner of magic arts. Not an uncommon premise: Games from Infocomís classic Enchanter way back in 1983 to both Charming and my own Junior Arithmancer from the previous IFComp have featured a similar PC. Remedial Witchcraft reminds me particularly of Charming, as in that game and this one youíre not just inexperienced, youíre also kind of bumbling.

The gameplay is quite directed. At the very beginning the witch youíre apprenticed to gives you a couple of tasks to perform. Then, after you complete those, youíre presented with another set of tasks to perform. And frequently in the midst of completing these tasks the game will make suggestions for what you should do next. All of this means that thereís very little stumbling around wondering what youíre supposed to be doing. It certainly eases the gameplay and reduces the frustration that often occurs in puzzle-heavy games, but for me it was a little too much hand-holding. Of course, I also like banging my head against puzzle-heavy games.

The writing style is short. Choppy. Frequently not full sentences. Very casual. Distinctive. Itís an interesting choice that fits the PCís character.

One of the magical items you get to play with is particularly delightful: the (Spoiler - click to show)teleportation rock.

Overall, I think I would have preferred more of a challenge, but I enjoyed figuring out the puzzles that I did in Remedial Witchcraft.

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
Very charming, December 27, 2019
by Stian
Related reviews: IFComp 2019

Remedial Witchcraft is a really lovely game with spells and wands and potions and a cat. As a puzzler, it is an easy one, yes, but the puzzles are great too, well conceived and perfectly implemented; theyíre generally not obvious from the start, though always solvable through experimentation and a bit of pondering. The protagonist is the most charming character Iíve encountered so far in this yearís IFComp and I really hope I will meet her again in a sequel!

0 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
Simple, underdeveloped puzzler, December 13, 2019
by Sono

(Spoiler - click to show)

This game is a lot shorter than it first seems. You have a really nice intro where you solve some very basic puzzles to obtain a few items, that also shows off the tantalizing "rest of the house" and gives you two information sources about "Runecrafts" and "History" that seem to promise greater digging.

Then game follows up with a bigger challenge to find some more items, but as you go around solving them, they appear relatively uninvolved with the settings. In fact, nothing from the two information sources from earlier, or from the first two rooms, are used again. This trend continues with the later puzzles, where a cauldron and set of 4 ingredient dispensers appears, but is only used for an 2-turn put-this-in-the-pot. Each dispenser is lovingly described and three of them are just scenery, which is especially disappointing when it was sitting there with its possible alchemical mysteries earlier.

On the other hand, the teleportation wand + stone was a pretty nice combination and possibly the most complex puzzle in the game. It still felt pretty limited: there are very few things you can throw the stone on and nothing gave fun responses to it, so it was a dry lookaround for things you could throw it on. I suppose what I'm missing is the sense of magic or possibility that magical artifacts feel like they should have: they're really just macguffins to move the game along, and their only use is to solve the next simple puzzle in line, without any surprises or new ways to think about things from them. It kind of feels like the game started off bigger and got scrapped down, since you could get rid of the wand and just have the game auto-teleport you to wherever the stone is thrown and it would work the same. Same for the cauldron puzzle, actually. The bolding is also really not necessary in a game of this size (the pool of objects to look at is already really small), or the notebook (exactly what items you need to find isn't necessary, just knowing there are 4, and the game already reminds you of what spell phrases you need right before you need to use them). Stripping down unnecessary components like these would strengthen the game, I think, by not promising something larger than it gives, and allowing the focus to be simply on the items and the puzzles.

I also think this game had a bad case of game divorced from story. The protagonist's backstory and the twist at the end are both completely irrelevant to the player's actions and abilities, making it play like a simple puzzler with story painted on top. It's not really a Remedial Witchcraft as much as another Apprentice Fixing Things game. A way to ameliorate this would be to add some simple details, like making Lina have a hard time finding the right way to pronounce shyn to show how she's a bad student, or to have the cat lying around somewhere examinable and give un-cat-like responses to things to tie in with the twist a little better. It might actually help to simplify or remove things altogether- make the cat just a cat, because... said twist seems to come completely out of left field. See-

["The witch-my master-put a hex on me. She doesn't want me to talk human to her. It's active when she's in the house."

You consider this. "Why?"

"Because. She doesn't appreciate my advice." Sade tilts her head. "Bit odd, since she's the one who put a language charm on me in the first place. She wants me to be a silent familiar. Which is a bit of a waste, don't you think?"]

This seems to be setting up for some kind of relationship conflict between witch and familiar (someone keeping a very sapient silenced like you would a phone...), but instead the twist is that the cat is actually an evil giant!!! Why does the witch have said giant kept as a cat and given free reign of the magic mcguffin house? Why do none of Sade's actions line up with her helping Lina when she could have just told her to read the spell book as a lie to catch the missing objects in the first place, instead of waiting till Lina was done finding each of them? It doesn't make sense and I'm really not sure how workable it is without changing much of the game. And for a light puzzly experience, it may be better to remove it to not overcomplicate it with something that doesn't make sense.

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
An overall good time, October 8, 2019
by hsgerard (Portland)

Remedial Witchcraft is a tight game: in a genre full of excess, it does a good job at keeping witchcraft manageable. Thereís only a few spells and a handful of locations, and for the most part the puzzles are fun and well-hinted.

Thereís some good atmosphere going on here too Ė the world building is (thankfully) light on exposition, and the writing is clear, if a little laconic.

(Spoiler - click to show)
If thereís one thing about RW I would ask for, itís just more. The cauldron interaction is so well fleshed out for using it only once, and the rock/wand mechanic has a lot of untapped potential (I was hoping to throw it through the witchís bedroom window, alas).

I also had a number of small bugs playing through my downloaded version Ė the teapot description mentioned it being captured even after I freed it, the teleportation circle in the room didnít work, and I had to resort to the walkthrough to get the word Ďdispulí, which never triggered for me.

Looking at the updates afterwards, however, it seems as though these problems have been fixed. Perhaps only the online play file was changed?

As to the end game Ė it was so unexpectedly glum after such a so-far charming experience Iím wondering if perhaps thereís more than one ending?

Overall, I really liked RW. Itís my favorite of the competition so far and I had a great time with it. I look forward to seeing what dgztiea puts out in the future, and for a first published parser game, they should be very proud.

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
A pleasant, mid-length witch-based parser game, October 7, 2019
by MathBrush
Related reviews: about 1 hour

'Wizard/Witch's Apprentice' games are very common, from old ones like "The Wizard's Apprentice" and "Berrost's Challenge" to more recent ones like "Charming" and "Oppositely Opal" (one of my favorites!).

This game avoids many of the problems of the genre. It restricts its state space nicely both with regards to books (there are only a few, and only a few topics to look up), locations (only about 7), and ingredients (about 4). Most of these witch/wizard games just open up too quickly.

I found the puzzles very satisfying. My most negative experience was right at the beginning with the crystal ball. (Spoiler - click to show)I couldn't reach the ball, but there were length-enhancing things around (like the duster). It was not intuitive to me that you could climb up).

I felt like the ending could have used a bit more build up or that there could be more details here and there. But that's more of a design preference, and not a bug. This is a solid game that will please parser fans.

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