Review: Blair Witch
Recently I wrote about my surprises at Gamescom and Blair Witch was definitely one of the highlights. Does the final game still scare me?
In 1996, a boy disappears into the woods, two years after the film Blair Witch. It's not really your job to look for him and to the dissatisfaction of your colleagues you do. You arrive at the meeting point and they have already left without you. When you go into the woods you will hear over the radio that they have already searched there. Eventually you will find new clues with the help of your dog, Bullet. After a while you thunder down a hill and later you wake up in the dark. You soon notice that there is more to this forest than you might initially think.
Of course you play this game in the dark with a headset on. Blair Witch should have been released a little later in the year, now I had to wait until nine o'clock every night, because playing with the curtains closed isn't the same after all. You investigate some clues and let Bullet search around. Slowly your hair stands up a little further. You shine around with your flashlight, but feel really naked behind you. Bullit starts to growl and runs around you. Your heart starts beating faster and then…
What a game like this must have is the constant feeling of being watched, like you're not alone and Blair Witch succeeds very well in this. You have a few tools, a flashlight, your radio and phone, and a camera. You can never use two at the same time and when you are busy with something, the world around you just goes on. The camera also has several functions. You will find video tapes that you can play and influence the world around you. You want to go through a door somewhere that is closed and you have a tape on which someone goes through the door. Put the tape on pause at that moment and suddenly the door is open in the real world. It also serves as an infrared or night camera, similar to Outlast.
Sure, it's a gimmick, but one that works well and the game doesn't last long enough to get tired of it. Blair Witch is short, very short. Take two or three evenings and you'll be done. For thirty euros I do not expect a campaign of eighty hours, but something longer than this is allowed. That said, there isn't a lot of unnecessary stuffing in there. You do have to search here and there, but that's part of it. You are and feel lost in this dark forest.
The gameplay is simple but effective. The controls are very simple. Walk, click here and there and control the bullet. This helps a lot to imagine yourself in the world of Blair Witch in a short time. As I said it is best to play the game in the dark and with a headset on. With a headset you also hear the good sound design even better. The crackling of the twigs and leaves under your feet or the wind through the bushes and trees, the sounds of the atmosphere changing around you and things that may or may not be near you.
The game looks good, graphically it is occasionally a picture and the effects are nice. At other times, especially if you take a closer look, you see that more could have been done with texture quality, for example. But overall the presentation is really fine.
Performance is a slightly different story. The frame rates are somewhat unstable and you will encounter glitches here and there. Such as suddenly being stuck in the environment or Bullet in a 'loop'. The only thing you can do is reload a save. This can sometimes set you back quite a bit, of which I even had to repeat over ten minutes of gameplay once. Fortunately this only happened occasionally.
Fans of horror games can indulge themselves here. Are games like Outlast, Slender, Alien Isolation and Layers of Fear (from the same makers) your thing? Then you really shouldn't pass up Blair Witch, you don't need to know anything about the lore either. The game is certainly not perfect. Glitches, short stories and mediocre graphics keep Blair Witch somewhat back. This does not take away from the fact that now and then my hair slowly stood on end when it became very exciting. The pace is good and there is little down time. Sometimes you really long for the moments when it's daytime.
Thirty euros is quite steeply priced for a game of this length, but well worth it. In addition, it will be regularly on offer. If it is less than ten or fifteen euros, I say buy immediately.
I'm scared to close my eyes, I'm scared to open them…
Blair Witch is available for Xbox One and Steam .
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