A Witch’s Tale is the latest DS RPG from our friends at Nippon Ichi Software. The game is a classic dungeon crawler, following the story of Lidell, a young witch on a big adventure. We’ve seen many games like this on the DS before, but does A Witches Tale standout from the others?
Let’s take a look at the HOTs and NOts of A Witch’s Tale.
Colorful world and great art
While the graphics are nothing spectacular, the environments in this game are some of the most colorful and attractive I’ve seen on the DS. There are several worlds you’ll travel to, similar to the level system in Kingdom Hearts. Each world has it’s own distinct style, and no two worlds are alike. Since it’s a dungeon crawler, every world is essentially a maze, with different locked doors and scattered keys. The tedium that usually comes with this is avoided by fun worlds and some awesome presentation. The art style is also awesome. I love the character designs; they all have distinct styles that help make them more complete people.
The story here is also well done. It won’t be winning any awards for it’s groundbreaking writing, but it keeps with NIS tradition of being comical and lighthearted. Lidell is a young witch who’s bored with life. She wants to quit magic school and search for the most powerful magic in the world. Through some convenient and way too shrugged off plot points, she finds herself in a forbidden castle seeking out a magic guarded by vampire. She manages to open the door, but accidently releases a powerful witch who had been sealed for the past 1000 years. Thus it’s now up to her and her new vampire friend to collect the pieces of scattered magic and once again seal the evil elder witch.
This story is nothing to write home about, but the character personalities and funny dialogue make it fun to play through.
Good Dungeon Crawler
There are very few dungeon crawlers that I can personally say I’ve enjoyed. I’ve never been a fan of the genre, and it typically takes a REALLY good one to impress me. Witch’s Tale is not a standout dungeon crawler. The DS has seen several of these types of games, and Witch’s Tale, while better than some, really is just another dungeon crawler. That being said, it does what it does just fine. Fans of dungeon crawlers should feel right at home with this game. The locations offer a nice amount of puzzle solving, key locating, and overall exploration is usually rewarded. You won’t get the full effect of the game if you simply blow through all the dungeons without taking the time to really look around.
The control scheme here works very well. Everything is done via the touch screen, but it never feels forced or unresponsive. It’s obvious this game was built from day one to work with the touch screen, so much so that the dpad does nothing. You move Lidell by dragging the stylus in the direction you want to go, which makes her movements smooth and fluid. It actually works out better since dpad movement can sometimes feel stiff. Battles are also controlled with the stylus. You drag different attacks, spells, and items into designated slots. For example, if you’re fighting three monsters, each one will have it’s own circle. The player then drags either a spell or an attack into a monster spell, and that monster is then attacked. It works well and it’s nice to see the touch screen get so much attention, lately DS games seem to be moving away from what makes the DS so unique.
This battle system is way too simplistic. There’s very little variety and almost no strategy. The only strategy offered here is finding which of Lidell’s spells work best on which enemy. What I hate most is that there is no defend option. You can’t defend in this game, which surprises me since every other turn-based RPG I’ve ever seen allows for defense as well as offense. Having no means of defense other than trying to escape can be maddening when in a tight situation. Honestly, the battle system here left me feeling very unimpressed.
The DS is a limited system; it’s a handheld so naturally it isn’t on the same level as say the 360. That being said, it’s been proven that games can have voice acting on the DS, and yet A Witch’s Tale lacks voice-work. To add insult to injury, upon starting up the game, you hear a voice welcoming you to A Witch’s Tale. I can understand not being fully voiced, but it begs the question as to why so little voice work appears in this game. The music is decent and fits the mood of the game, but the lack of voice acting brings the game down for me.
Overall, A Witch’s Tale is honestly nothing special. For those looking for a new dungeon crawler on the DS, you may find yourself entertained. The touch screen control scheme is well done, however, the simplistic battle system and lack of substance keep this game from standing out amongst the dozens of other JRPGs on the system. It’s too bad, because the story is fun and the characters are engaging. If you’re a JRPG fanatic, then you’ll probably want to check this out, I suggest a rental before a purchase.