Do you ever have one of those days where you just wake up and find a goat in your house that you apparently made a contract with? Well, Wytchwood starts off in exactly that manner, as you take on the role of a nameless Witch whose only notable possessions are a rope belt and a grimoire with all of its pages missing.
The story sees you performing a couple of fetch quests: missions in which you collect or craft a number of items (in this game, generally one to three varieties) and then bring them to the hand-in point. After that, you do… more fetch quests. And then even more! Yes, Wytchwood is essentially Fetch Quest: The Game. That’s perfectly fine though, because the entire affair is a relaxing jaunt through the world as you search out the Twelve Wicked Souls that the Goat has tasked you with bringing to it in order to save a Sleeping Maiden. The Goat describes the Souls as “villains who deceived her, and cheated her, and broke her spirit”, referring to the Maiden; each of the Souls is in fact an anthropomorphic animal that resides in one of the game’s eight major areas.
The first quest serves as a tutorial for how the game mechanics work, and supplies you with several key tools that you’ll be using to collect the various items scattered around. When it comes to snagging ingredients from creatures, you’ll often need to craft specific traps, baits, and whatnot to deal with them. The game, then, becomes a cycle of travelling between areas to collect items, in order to make different items, so that you can craft snares and the like to… get more items!
Wytchwood takes place over four main segments, the end of each one being signified by the Witch falling to sleep. The first part — the tutorial quest — is much shorter and takes perhaps 10–15 minutes. The other three segments share a common story quest (collect the first/second/third set of four Souls) and are far longer, involving much more traversal of the land; expect these parts to take 2–4 hours each. Every time the segment changes, more of the world opens up for you to explore, including some paths in areas you already had access to; a good example of this is the first main area of the game, the Forest, which has only about a quarter of its map accessible during the tutorial but opens up further with each story advancement.
The story is enjoyable to experience, with both the player and the Witch herself having no real idea as to why the contract is in place. With that in mind, I won’t go too in-depth so as to remain spoiler-free, since experiencing the story is one of the main appeals of Wytchwood. Despite dabbling in dark magic, the Witch is a blunt, no-nonsense old woman who nevertheless shows compassion for those in need and obvious disdain for villains. Collecting the Souls involves interacting with many NPCs and objects, often with humorous dialogue relating to why the animal in question is Wicked (I will note that a couple of themes were a fair bit darker than the game’s overall relaxed nature), and undertaking the aforementioned fetch quests. Each Soul requires several cycles of fetching to reach its conclusion, but will invariably require the collection of a wide variety of items and ingredients!
The graphics are vibrant and aesthetically pleasing, being many 2D objects arranged in a 3D world. The camera angle is fixed; going behind objects will temporarily make them see-through for your ease, although there’s nothing of great importance hidden away behind any terrain features. Every area has a distinct, thematic appearance that sets it apart from the others, with the slight exceptions of the Village and the Market which share a slightly more urban aesthetic. For example, the Forest has an autumnal ambience with many trees and bushes in oranges, yellows, and reds; the Mountain has many flat, open areas covered with snow, and vivid blue bushes to emphasise the cold; and the Graveyard has several tombstones (shocker, I know) in orderly rows and swirling mists, alongside a darker overall palette.
The music is, for the most part, a selection of easy-going acoustic melodies that help to reinforce the relaxing vibe of Wytchwood. It’s easy listening and well-suited to the atmosphere of the game, although if one spends a somewhat prolonged time in any given area, it can become a little samey and grating. As with the graphics, each region (more-or-less) has its own musical composition, each one fairly tailored to be thematic to the zone. One suggestion I would make for anyone playing is to lower the sound effect volume a bit; it seems disproportionately high, especially when even the simple action of filling a jar with water from a well creates a loud cascading noise!
After some approximate accounting for time spent in the pause menu, I clocked my playtime in at around 10–11 hours. It should be noted that there seems to be very little replayability to the game, however, as once you finish it you will have already seen and done everything there is to do. That said, everything tied up nicely to provide a satisfactory ending, in which it didn’t feel like anything was really missing.
All-in-all, Wytchwood delivers one thing really well: a nice, relaxing experience. If you’re not a fan of the fetch quest schtick then this is one to give a miss, but otherwise? This is a great game to while away an evening or two.
Wytchwood (Reviewed on Windows)
This game is good, with a few negatives.
Cute, fun, and quite literally fetching; Wytchwood blends all of its elements together wonderfully, although there is little reason to play more once you conclude the 10–12 hours’ worth of story.