Have you ever wanted to grab your cinnamon broomstick and disappear into a dark, fairytale forest to live out the rest of your days in peace and quiet? I’m sure the cauldron-headed witch of the crafting adventure game, Wytchwood, had similar lofty goals in mind when she reclined in her old rocker for a quick snooze. However, life and a mysterious black goat (who definitely has your best interest at heart) have a knack for pulling us out of wistful summer dreams and back into harsh reality.
Wytchwood centers on the journey of an old witch who keeps to herself, deep in the swamplands in her decrepit, yet cozy swamp home. If only we were left to sleep by our welcoming fire, reading ancient tomes of magic and lore. Unfortunately, the black goat has other plans for us. The aging witch had previously forged a pact with him long, long ago that she has completely forgotten. Now, she has to fulfill her end of the bargain unless the beautiful, sleeping maiden in the nearby ruins remains a timeless furniture piece and the witch’s lost memories remain hidden. What ensues is a grand adventure to retrieve the wicked souls that are the source of our woes and the entire reason for the maiden’s current predicament.
Of course, it can’t be that easy. There are a lot of antagonists at fault in Wytchwood, and even more roads to travel to get to them. Claiming souls in exchange for the life of another initially feels wrong. We know nothing about these characters other than the fact that they’ve wronged the maiden. However, the more we get to know them, the easier that burden feels to carry. These aren’t helpless citizens who just all decided to band together against the big bad; these are cruel, manipulative creatures that delight in the misfortune of others and only care about themselves. At first, it doesn’t seem so bad, but the deeper you dive into each character’s story, the more their sins begin to unravel and the less awful we feel about cleansing the storybook world of their presence. One less bad apple as it were.
Luckily, we’re are a centuries year old witch with an arsenal of-well, we did have an arsenal of spells at our disposal until the goat chewed up our grimoire. Now we’ll have to discover them all again in order to deal with varying puzzles and obstacles that bar our path forward. Thankfully, we have our Witch’s Sight which freezes time and allows us to view our surroundings and gain more information. Examining the invisible, demonic pixies underneath the pixie hollow shows us their weakness (a revealing spell) and teaches us the spell needed to expose the cretins. At its core, Wytchwood is a crafting and gathering game. Kind of like Dungeons & Dragons, your spells have components that you’ll need to gather from a variety of places throughout the world. This will often lead to backtracking through locales that you thought you’d seen the last of, only to go digging through the mud for one more shiny stone. Honestly, pots are the bane of my existence. You can never craft enough pots to hold either well water or “moo” juice.
Leaving the swamp is hard, for both our protagonist crone and player alike, but there are so many wonderful maps with ingredients just waiting to be plucked on the upcoming journey. The hand-illustrated graphics of Wytchwoodare honestly on an entirely different level. I can’t remember the last time I’ve played a game whose graphics literally took my breath away upon first loading up the game. The vibrant, moody colors, mixed with the quirky and creative character designs are the first thing to greet you and quickly became one of the core reasons that kept me playing. Every turn had a new character or item to interact with, all with beautifully drawn, unique art that easily conveyed their personality and spoke to their potential motives.
On top of that, the writing kept me engaged and thoroughly invested in the story and characters. The dialogue is so, so well written and grounded in the world with the witch constantly churning out a new and witty comeback that always made me do a double-take. I adored the story scenes so much because the writers took every opportunity to write lines that just oozed whimsy and showcased the personalities of these characters while simultaneously managing not to feel like we were being hit over the head with too much information or exposition. It was just an absolutely perfect balance.
Last, but definitely not least, the music of Wytchwood is a warm cup of tea on a dark, rainy morning with a heated blanket and a cushioned chair. Amidst all of the shenanigans hiding around every corner, the music of Wytchwood welcomes you with open arms to each new area with unique melodies that will have you swaying gently while picking up mushrooms for your dark ritual. The music is dangerously meditative, and can definitely lure you into spending several hours just running around picking herbs while simultaneously accosting goblins for their snot. Before you know it, you’re several hours into the woods, and your inventory is overflowing with witchy goodies that you may not need right now, but you’re sure will come in handy later. (Spoiler alert, they do!)
I think by this point, you probably already know how I feel about Wytchwood. I absolutely love it and highly suggest you try it out if you like story-rich crafting titles. Stuffed with incredible writing, soothing music, and gorgeous art, Wytchwood is well worth the price tag of $19.99 on Steam. If you’ve been looking for something to fill the void after your week-long marathon of Elden Ring, why not give this magical adventure game a try?
A product key was provided for the sake of this review.