Witchaven was a 1995 fantasy-themed FPS game with RPG elements, developed by Capstone Software and published by IntraCorp.
Along with Capstone's 1994 release, William Shatner's Tekwar, it had the distinction of being one of the first games made on the Build Engine, debuting a full year before Duke Nukem 3D. Although based on a first-person shooter engine, the gameplay had more in common with traditional first-person fantasy hack-and-slash RPGs, with a heavy emphasis on close combat with melee weaponry (a bow and several magic spells for ranged attacks were also available, but each had limited uses). The player also gained experience points and increased his health and magic ability gradually as the game progressed.
The game follows the warrior Grondoval as he journeys to the forbidden land of Witchaven to defeat the evil witch Illwhyrin.
A sequel, Witchaven II: Blood Vengeance, was released in 1996, which featured new weapons and enemies - plus a significant Sequel Difficulty Spike. This was Capstone and IntraCorp's last game, before they both went bankrupt in the same year.
Tropes featured include:
- Breakable Weapons: One of the unique features of the game. Melee weapons had finite durability and would shatter after enough usage, requiring you to find another one.
- Captain Ersatz: In the first game, Grondoval bears more than a passing resemblance to Frank Frazetta's Death Dealer, especially on the box art.
- Enemy Civil War/Mêlée à Trois: Enemies would occasionally fight each other as well as the player, for example green goblins and yellow goblins were hostile to each other, and groups of them would often be found battling it out.
- Follow the Leader: At the time, most reviewers criticized the game for being derivative of Heretic and Hexen due to the similar dark fantasy setting. Witchaven was distinguishable due to its emphasis on melee combat as opposed to ranged spellcasting like in the Heretic/Hexen series.
- Jump Scare: For whatever reason, a ghostly horned skull with glowing eyes, pops up on screen at random points during gameplay, accompanied by a loud Scare Chord.
- Recurring Boss: Illwhyrin actually appears several times throughout the game to fight you, but always teleports away after taking damage. Only in the final level do you actually kill her.