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12/04/2018 16:20:42 •••

A respectable horror game, RPG Maker or otherwise.

RPG Maker games have a certain stigma; given the sheer volume of disposable crap it can be difficult to find the truly worthwhile titles. The Witch's House is one of the more famous games made with the engine in the last few years, and contrary to what you might assume, it's not an RPG but a horror game.

Witch's House is a small game; it only lasts for about an hour and a half, and could be beaten well under that if the player knows what they're doing. Its story is sparse, with only a small handful of cutscenes, with arguably the most important one being completely missable. However, the level of atmosphere and engagement that this game creates with all these limitations is genuinely impressive. The game's creator, Fummy, has a fairly solid understanding of how to create a sense of dread and build-up that makes for good horror; the game's lighting and sound design clearly reflect this sensibility as well, with both being very effective and getting a lot of mileage out of fairly simple, but well-considered tricks. If I had one complaint in this regard, it would be a slight overabundance of jump-scares. The game has a lot more to offer than just that, but I think it might have done some good to minimize them a little.

It is important to mention that this game has multiple endings. When I first completed it, I got the "normal" ending, which was a passable conclusion to the story but left me puzzled as to what people had been talking about in regard to this game's bleakness. When I re-loaded my save and got the second ending, I finally understood what they were talking about and realized what the game's actual conceit was. Yes, it's one of those games where the ending really does change everything. So if you decide to play this, make sure you go ahead and do that. (You also get some extra cool lore if you do an entire playthrough without interacting with the cat, which is doable if you have a good knowledge of the puzzles).

If I had to issue one warning is that this game is a total downer. That more or less comes with the territory for the horror genre, so it's not exactly surprising, but since I've seen people upset with it elsewhere I thought it might be good to mention it.

Well worth your time to play this if you are a fan of horror games.

12/04/2018 00:00:00

I really love the way the game is made, for all the reasons you outline, as well as how the puzzles themselves (and how the player character gets through them) foreshadow what is actually going on. By comparison, the white chamber has an ending that just comes out of the blue.

And yet... I cannot recommend it because of that ending. It feels less like horror than the author trolling. Good horror has to feel like it\'s saying something real on some level; this ending was so arbitrary, so contrived by author fiat, that it actually reduced the emotional impact and I stopped thinking of it a lot faster than with Yume Nikki. (Also, getting the true ending is pretty unintuitive, in a game that otherwise makes very good use of player intuition.)

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