Review: Trigger Witch
By: Fernando Da Costa
Available On: PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S
Review Console: Nintendo Switch Lite
GRAB YOUR GUNS! - Introduction
In this day and age, it takes a little something special to be noticed. It may be colourful cover art or an intriguing premise. When I, however, see a name like Trigger Witch, it doesn’t exactly seduce my curiosity - my interest remains flaccid. To be terribly blunt, the random combination of words reminds me of those weird budget titles. What eventually motivated me to cover this game was one of its trailers. It featured Colette, the witch you’ll be controlling. In it, she’s surrounded by radish-looking creatures - and that’s when it happens. In one swift action, she whips out a gun and blasts every single one in a gore fest of blood. The murder on display was enough to entice, which says a lot about me. If you’re in need of more convincing, check this out. Trigger Witch embodies a nostalgic slap across the face. The visual representation is gorgeous pixel art, and environments look to be ripped straight from The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past. If I’ve got your attention now, continue for further details.
A WORLD WITHOUT MAGIC! - Story Synopsis
Welcome to Evertonia, where magic is dying and bullets reign supreme. Our adventure begins on the morning of graduation. Colette and her two friends are preparing for an initiation called The Stock. It's a trial that leads to being inducted into The Clip - a group of badass witches that wield artillery to slaughter the monsters that roam the land. Before they can partake in the festivities, however, a structure known as the Ordnance Rift must deem them worthy of a gun. With that in mind, Colette approaches and is immediately recognized, being nailed in the head with a hand cannon for her efforts. Knocked unconscious, a figure wrapped in a black cloak then steps out of the rift itself, salivating at the new world. What follows is a ten-course meal of blood splatter as Colette is tasked with hunting this figure down. You’ll combat dragons and assassinate demonic ball things in your quest to redeem Evertonia. Who knows, you might even stumble on the unexpected.
BANTER WITH FRIENDS! - Writing
Going in, I wasn’t expecting much from the dialogue, but, frankly, I was pleasantly surprised. The story proper isn’t anything innovative and won’t leave anyone awestruck. It did, however, give me the most wholesome feeling as I watched Collette, her mother, and her close friends interact with each other. There’s an undeniable presence of quirk and whimsy. What shocked me most was the presence of - albeit minuscule - character development. Between the grotesque violence and flying hot lead, there’s genuine relationship growth. The way the three friends bantered between one another felt familiar. They’d be supportive one minute but then teasing the next. I witnessed jealousy of one's achievements turn into unbridled respect as events took place. It was that measure of realism that went far into heightening my overall session.
One aspect I was absolutely enamoured by was the awful dad jokes. There’s no question that Trigger Witch has a distinct sense of humour. The text itself oozes sarcasm and sass with the way sentences are constructed. They had me simultaneously rolling my eyes but consistently smiling. It’s impossible not to see the charisma that’s interlaced into the writing. It’s also one of those scripts you either love or are indifferent to. The comedy is, assuredly, an acquired taste, but if, like me, you enjoy dreadful puns and equally awful wordplay, I reckon the game will be entertaining. Furthermore, near the end, I was sincerely flabbergasted by how quick the brutality turned up to eleven. The actions on screen were so hostile and sudden. My reaction when seeing these moments was a chuckle, accompanied by an obscenity.
A COLETTE TO THE PAST! - Gameplay
Trigger Witch is a fancifully done twin-stick shooter. For anyone alien to the concept, it’s, essentially, the marrying of both joysticks. I’ve already established that what hooked me was the aforementioned Zelda inspiration. That doesn’t only apply to the aesthetic but extends into the mechanics. One such facet is the dungeons in Evertonia have rooms with many methods of progression. These, of course, center around Zelda staples like wiping out every enemy on screen or solving puzzles. Unlike Zelda, the sheer amount that stalks you differs vastly. It’s never overwhelming, mind you, and more than enough to provide a satisfactory challenge. Having to incessantly dodge projectiles while shooting was such an adrenaline rush - It was so exhilarating. While Rupees won’t be the primary currency in Trigger Witch, the general gem still is. Enemies explode into a shower of these upon destruction, and collecting them is vital. There’s no need to manually do so as a nice quality-of-life perk is upon clearing an area; Colette is magnetized, attracting everything to her. Once you’ve gathered a hearty amount, then maps and some pretty gnarly artillery enhancements await your purchase.
With a modest overworld, the game yearns for exploration. Throughout Evertonia, there are several chests hidden in every cranny. None possess heart pieces, though, as health is boosted by paying for it. The treasure is, instead, weapon kits. You see, there are a plethora of armaments to scrounge up, from a rapid-fire AK to dual-wielding machine guns. Rather disappointingly, these are found in a linear fashion through a typical run. It’s a missed opportunity not to plop in a super-secret weapon in an arcade-type shooter like this - something overpowered would be fun. The default guns do, at least, have the capability of being potent themselves. Those aforementioned weapon kits open up the possibility of bolstering stats like Fire Rate, Reload Speed, Damage, and Clip Size. It, initially, costs a Kit before then becoming gems - and it gets very expensive. Trigger Witch, thankfully, mitigates this with the implementation of a risk/reward difficulty system - it’s neat. For instance, the hardest option offers the most currency, but in exchange, inflicted damage is lessened while damage received will be amplified.
HEAD-SHOT! - Accessibility
A big shout out to the wide-open areas. Thanks to these, I could accommodate my inability to properly aim with the right stick by utilizing the movement of the left. Since I’m able to hold the firing button, it freed up my focus. This was incredible because, honestly, I can’t multitask worth a damn. I know this probably sounds like a convoluted way to be accurate, but due to my disabilities, I needed this. Besides, if anything is taken from this blurb, it’s that Trigger Witch did a fantastic job of always keeping me engaged in what was happening. It was a joy slaughtering monsters and raining down genocide. Sure, all this information is inconsequential to most folks, but this is worth covering for those that require approachability. It negates potential frustration, turning it into glee.
DODGE ROLL, COLETTE! - Performance
Before I get into it, note this disclaimer. I’ve been in contact with RainBite, and there's a patch incoming to address a few issues. I’m not sure which, particularly, but know that everything is getting fixed.
The first misstep is only a bother when specific criteria are met. In fact, I only stumbled upon it in New Game+, though it can affect your initial playthrough too. It didn’t for me, and I only found out after some testing. It took me an embarrassing amount of time to pinpoint the reason, but it paid off. See, when I began Trigger Witch, I set my difficulty setting to Normal. I then proceeded to rampage through one of the dungeons - Firearm Foundry - without issue - boss included. So naturally, I switched to Very Hard for more of a challenge. Once I completed the game, I dove back - yeah, it’s that fun. I revisited the foundry with newfound confidence and, once again, bulldozed my way up to the boss. This time, however, it refused to die; the final shot didn’t register. I was perpetually stuck in a never-ending loop because of this. Things got mighty interesting when I wanted to test out a hunch. I scaled back to Normal, and, as I had thought, the final hit was now recognized. It’s a game halting bug, to be sure, but it’s being patched out. Even if it isn’t by launch, one gets around it by simply downgrading difficulty.
This second hiccup is one I got once. During a late-game scene, Colette moves by herself into a corner. She’s, obviously, feeling guilt from all the killing she’s done and is therefore punishing herself. When I tried to move her from her self-imposed time-out, though, she wouldn’t listen. None of the directional inputs worked, leaving me no choice but to restart. Thankfully, I didn’t lose much progress because Trigger Witch compulsively auto-saves. Another bug strikes when the Nintendo Switch is awakened from its slumber. Once it is and you jump back into a suspended game, it freezes. None of the buttons are responsive but can be easily mended by, once again, suspending to the home screen before, again, jumping back in. After a few tests, it seems this occurs when the console has been asleep for several hours. In that case, get the system some coffee, or cycle through these instructions.
AND THE BEWITCHING VERDICT IS...
Trigger Witch is arcade-style gameplay done correctly. It’s addictive, fun, and such a wonderful time killer. The writing is, unexpectedly, well done. I was surprised by the sarcastic quips and charismatic demeanour that some characters had. I even grew attached to one, despite the simplicity of the dialogue. Although, I don’t think it was necessarily due to impactful, emotional writing but more because of the relatability. To avoid spoilers, I won’t divulge details, but I will say you can pet a dog - he’s a good boy. There’s also drop-in, drop-out couch co-op for those that wish to play with their significant other. I, sadly, wasn’t able to test out how responsive such a feature is. The gunplay is enjoyable, and I loved that areas weren’t constricting. It helped me from an accessibility standpoint, and I appreciated that. The 2D design certainly plays a huge part in making Trigger Witch memorable. Speaking of style, I loved the pixelated sprites but was a bit bummed the models weren’t a bit more emotive than they currently are.
I highly recommend this game and consider it a must-own. If you have a corny sense of humour, that’s even further reason to get this. I happily give Trigger Witch an 8.
Thank you to EastAsiaSoft, who provided a code for the purposes of this review