‘Witchfire’ Teases Us With Snippets
- 15th century FPS.
- By the creators of Painkiller and Bulletstorm.
- Guns and glamour aid in the hunt of supernatural foes.
Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live. That creed, and little else, is the core narrative behind Witchfire, the upcoming supernatural FPS from independent Polish developers, The Astronauts. They have made clear that while Witchfire will have lore to discover, it is not a story-based game. Aside from their team being too small to devote time and resources on cut-scenes, the design philosophy behind Witchfire is more focused on challenge and mastery. The narrative as it stands is as follows:
During the 300 years of European witch hunts that started in the 15th century, tens of thousands of women, men, and children lost their lives due to superstition, politics and profit. But that’s our history and our world. In the world of Witchfire, witches are real. And you are the punishing hand of the Church.
Built in Unreal 4, Witchfire is being worked on by the creators of The Vanishing of Ethan Carter, Painkiller, and Bulletstorm. So combat is reminiscent of the faster-paced strafing, backpedaling, arsenal-toting mayhem of old school shooters. But The Astronauts have also learned what not to do from some of their previous experience, such as enemy design.
It was not designed just so it looks cool. We went that way with Painkiller, where we started serious but ended up in later levels with evil clowns and zombie pirates. In Witchfire, we’re much more disciplined and everything matters. The rich ornamented armor counterpointed by the rotten corpse inside, the symbol on the helmet, or the glow in the eyes (as seen in the teaser video). Even the way he’s animated. It’s all a part of the bigger story, and he’s just one element of the puzzle.
In their development blog, The Astronauts give in-depth updates to the thinking behind their design decisions, such as in the example above. They are also fond of posting exasperatingly brief, soundless clips of gameplay footage, such as this most recent video:
It looks wickedly cool, but it’s not nearly enough! And when is the final product going to become available? To this, they have only one answer: “it’ll be done when it’s done.” As frustrating as that is, it’s also the credo of a truly masterful game maker, one who is not beholden to a publisher’s release schedule, and therefore free of a publisher’s design influence… at least for now.
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