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Today I’m taking a look at the new psychological horror published and developed by (and courtesy of!) Bloober Team. Blair Witch as a franchise started way back in the late nineties with a found footage style supernatural horror. The game does carry elements of that on, including liberal and sometimes quite gripping mechanics using a video recorder, but also gives its own new slat following the lore of the series and creating a whole new narrative. Find the video just below, or carry on reading here for the extended review.
It’s probably natural for folks to expect a twisted horror ride with this eponymous title, which draws from the lore of the film franchise to deliver an experience aiming to creep your spine right out of your shoulders. The title does deliver well on the goosebump front, with this story driven psychological horror, which studies your reactions to fear and stress. Unlike the original Blair Witch Project (I’ll confess I’ve not seen much of the others in the series), largely based on the threat rather than the entety itself, you will encounter physical threats within the game, and with not many ways of fighting off any horrors which lurk in the darkness
You play as Ellis, armed with a flashlight and your trusty hound bullet, you’ll enter a relatively calm and peaceful woodland in search of a missing local boy Peter Shannon. Set just a couple of years after the events of the first film, I think we’d all expect our search of the Black Hills Forest to maybe go a little awry, however at first you’ll find only a well crafted and fairly immersive woodland. Using a few different commands to forage through the undergrowth, you’ll use your dog Bullt to find and follow clues, as well as to help protect yourself later on in the game.
Blair Witch is rated by PEGI at 16 and above and by the ESRB at Mature 17+. There are a few reasons for this including primarily FEAR as the title takes you on a ride through not only the creepy events within the forest, but into the past of the main character. It’s also packed with bad language at all levels, as well as some gory and violent depictions throughout. Ultimately I’m saying this one is definitely Not for the younger generation, especially if you want them to ever be able to sleep again. As a note here, it may well also be worth sticking away from blair witch if you suffer from PTSD due to violent scenes, jump scares and some story elements.
With the PEGI and ESRB rating rounded up though, let’s take a look below at how it stacks up overall
The Run Down
Visuals – Fair: Overall the visuals are pretty good and there are some really atmospheric locations throughout, however visual bugs and glitches are present including clipping, and snap changes in lighting and other effects which can be quite immersion breaking
Audio – Good: The audio within Blair Witch works amazingly well to set a creepy and malevolent vibe throughout your time in the black hills forest. Some great voice acting is especially note worthy
Narrative – Good: The narrative within the title is a real strong point, and this weaving story really does stand out. There are a small number of different story branches to follow, and overall the team have done a cracking job of winding a fresh narrative around the lore of Blair Witch
Replay – Good: With collectables ad different story fragments to pick up along the way, it’s unlikely that you’ll find out everything on your first playthrough, in fact it’s impossible. With the different endings as well it’s one worth running through at least twice to get the full backstory of Ellis, as well as the “current day” narrative on your search for Peter Shannon
The Pixel Bandits verdict this week is a solid MAYBE. The title does have visual bugs which can pull your immersion, and there have been one or two other bits which have got in the way such as getting stuck in doorways pretty often and on one memorable occasion falling through an invisible forest floor. It’s a relatively cheap title from the off and is likely worth picking up for horror or blair witch fanatics. If it wasn’t for the bugs, it would definitely be a must buy so if you can overlook those it’s worth giving it a punt