Title: WitchSpring R
Release Date: September 25, 2023
Reviewed On: PC
Genre: Adventure RPG
The WitchSpring series continues to evolve from its mobile roots with the release of WitchSpring R. Interestingly, this game acts as a faithful remake of the WitchSpring 1, which was released on mobile devices in 2015 but never officially came west. WitchSpring R takes the core foundation and all the notable story beats of WitchSpring 1 to deliver a balanced and charming experience for any looking for a low-barrier-of-entry adventure.
WitchSpring R introduces Pieberry, a young witch living in a magic forest where she fights off invaders and forages for materials. However, her main motivation for even getting up in the morning is Pie. You see, Pieberry is a witch, and humans don’t like witches. In fact, humans enter the magical forest for the sole purpose of killing her. Luckily, a large golem stands guard and helps her throw out the trash, but after getting a taste of the Pie from the human world, she sets her goals on exploration. The entire adventure is one of discovery. Pieberry is constantly learning new things from her travels, but most of her guidance comes from a talking bird named…Black Joe. Okay, I didn’t name him.
Anyway, Black Joe is a strange character who’s not on the best terms with Pieberry, but they work together. The bird knows a lot about this world and will constantly be dropping knowledge on Pieberry as they encounter new discoveries. Think of him as a plot device and a master of lore. The relationship between the characters makes up a good amount of the in-game banter. Given the low-stakes narrative, the two are free to speak casually as they look for Pie or make a discovery. While some plot devices in the later hours cause a bit more tension in the story, most of the experience is rather lighthearted. I do feel like their strong bond makes for a few impactful scenes toward the end game.
Unlike the mobile version, WitchSpring R can be a pretty lengthy adventure, with a 30-hour playtime being the average. As you hit story milestones, there are a few different ways to spend your time. It seems that there’s a nice circle of systems that work harmoniously together during normal gameplay. You set out on a story mission, but along the way, you can fight, collect materials, and even discover a couple of secret bosses. However, this all ties back to systems found within your home. As you fight, you gain experience that adds to your training gauge, which we’ll get into later, but it also adds to your combat skills.
Once you reach the Combat milestone, your stats and training receive significant bonuses, so be sure to try and raise that level before training too much in the early game because you’ll want to save those. When it comes to training, Pieberry can choose which areas she wants to invest herself in. This will also raise your stats, but there’s an option to manually do the training or automatically. I found that the auto-training doesn’t save too much time, so if you really want the training bonus, just do it manually. This will take you to various short mini-games, which surprisingly don’t have any tutorials. I say surprisingly because the game is very good at guiding players through the early game, so why not have the tutorials for these mini-games?
Exploration also ties into crafting as you collect materials to create consumable items at home. It’s also possible to use items to Evolve your weapon for higher damage output, along with some spells. Again, all of these systems flow naturally through casual gameplay. You aren’t even really able to grind since enemies and materials have a cool-down timer on them, so just play the game and enjoy yourself.
The combat also sees a nice evolution over the course of the game. Pieberry eventually gains access to new skills and magic elements. Further, magical skills also become available, which are shown onscreen during battles as cooldowns. It’s totally possible to just save these for a boss, but they fill up quickly enough to use on large groups just to get the battle done quicker.
I feel like that’s the point, too. If a battle lasts a few turns, you’ll eventually start getting Crit bonuses. Also, if you take down an enemy, you can sometimes be awarded with an additional attack. This also triggers if you successfully avoid an enemy. On that note, there are potions you can use before battle, one being more agility, but enemies would always land hits, even when using this potion, so I don’t know if they actually work.
There’s also a monster-catching system to add monsters to your party. While you can only have one monster partner to roam around and fight next to you, they’re all capable party members. Later in the game, other characters join, but supporting members are only able to attack in battle. You are able to choose their target unless there’s only one to which they auto-attack. Black Joe also helps with supplying you with Items without wasting a turn.
As a high-level overview, that’s it on the core gameloop of WitchSpring R. Additional activities allow you to Fast Travel anywhere and collect all the treasure or fight difficult bosses. I was never lost or confused about how to progress the narrative, so I played the entire game casually, which led to one of the many endings you can get. There are also post-game missions to dive into, so the fun doesn’t have to stop. The illustrations within WitchSpring R vary.
Some characters have really cute illustrations, whereas others feel kind of out of place or not representative of their on-screen chibi form. I do feel like the areas are diverse, and the explorable connected world is amazing from such a small team of developers, but there were no memorable dungeons or puzzles, for that matter. I suppose that’s the downside of such a straightforward adventure; nothing really hinders progression. On that note, there is a higher difficulty that does require you to really master the battle system. Thankfully, there are options after a game over to restart the battle or load from the most recent autosave.
WitchSpring R showcases a brilliant gameloop of balancing its story progression with its many systems. On the box, it may seem like too much information to retain, but in practice, it all blends seamlessly together to never hold the player back from progression. The adventure is massive, too, with a lengthy campaign and a large connected world with plenty to explore. I’m glad it’s not just Pieberry’s illustrations that received the remastered treatment, and the developers put together something truly fun for fans, both new and returning.
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