Release Date: December 9, 2021
I was pretty excited about Wytchwood after playing the demo back in October of 2021, and I ended up picking it up pretty near full price shortly after it released. I do this thing pretty often where I buy something, and then forget all about it until months or years have gone by because my attention span is nearly non-existent, but this time, I deliberately decided to wait so I could play it for this project. In a way, I guess the joke was on me – I could have played this months ago since I’m now four full games past my goal!
The main gameplay loop of Wytchwood is heavily crafting focused. You used to have a Grimoire, full of crafting recipes, but a goat (who isn’t actually a goat) has chewed up most of the pages, so as you explore the world, you’re going to need to use your Witch Eye to inspect things you find and figure out how everything works all over again. This is part of a pretty lengthy and epic quest you’re on, but it’s how you’re going to be spending most of your time – collecting reagents, combining them from your Grimoire, and using the things you make to – you guessed it – collect more reagents to make more things.
In order to really get into Wytchwood, you’re going to need to like exploring, and be really okay with backtracking. After a short questline that serves as a tutorial for the rest of the game, the world really starts to open up, and no matter which part of the main story you choose to pursue first, you’re going to need stuff from everywhere you have access to. The maps aren’t overly large, and you’ll probably unlock the fast travel option between them fairly early on, but you will be running from one end of the world to the other trying to nab that last ingredient.
Because of the way the learning functions, you may not realize you needed something from the area you were just in until after you’ve already gone somewhere else. You may know you need something that comes from the fields to make something you need in the swamp, but until you use your Witch Eye on the target in the fields, you may not realize that in order to gather the thing you need, you need to have already crafted something to make it possible to gather it, and that thing – most likely – will need an ingredient from back in the swamp.
You do have a handful of basic, reusable gathering tools, but a lot of the time you need crafted items to get something you need to craft something else. On the upside, there seems to be no inventory limits, so there’s no reason not to grab absolutely everything when you have the chance. This won’t completely mitigate the need-to-backtrack-constantly problem, but it will certainly help.
As long as you enjoy the main loop, everything else about the game is pretty great. The quest texts and dialogs are well written (and frequently amusing), and the art style is quirky but fantastic. Even the music is pretty chill and soothing. The controls are simple, in fact, the game could easily be played with just the mouse, although you can absolutely move with the keyboard and Wytchwood has full controller support, if that’s your preferred way to play.
The game does have a clear ending, and HowLongToBeat estimates it’ll take a little more than 10 hours to get there. From what I’ve seen so far, there doesn’t seem to be any meaningful choices to add replay value either. That could be either a pro or a con depending on what you like to get out of your gaming purchases.
SteamDB estimates that Wytchwood has sold between 28,000 and 77,000 copies on Steam. Review have mostly been positive, with the negative reviews mostly focusing on the tedium of running back and forth and the lack of excitement in the crafting system. It is ranked 224 out of 10,967 games released in 2021.