Developed and published by: Bloober Team
Platforms: Windows, SteamOS, Xbox One
Just a man and his dog…. and a witch. That’s right its time to once again take tentative footsteps into the haunted Black Hills Forest of Burkistville Maryland as we revisit one of the most influential stories of the horror genre. Blair Witch.
The storyline of the game follows protagonist and former police officer, Ellis along with his loyal canine companion, Bullet, as they invite themselves in on a search party looking for a child that has gone missing within the Black Hills Forest. It doesn’t take long for player to get the feeling that Ellis isn’t exactly a pillar of mental fortitude as he tries to catch up with the search that very blatantly displays their lack of trust in him. Obviously going into this game the player should expect many layers of mystery that require both effort and bravery to reveal more about what dark events are taking place. I try not to spoil much in my reviews so I’ll just say that as Ellis ventures further into the dark forest he takes steps closer and closer to insanity and its up to the player to fight through horrific visions of the past to not only find the missing boy but also escape the dangerous environment. Story line wise the only thing I would’ve changed or added is that I would’ve liked to see more content of the original movie being used as it does take place in 1996.
When Blair Witch debuted their trailer, I was skeptical to say the least. While I was excited for a new entry to survival horror genre, the gameplay concepts shown in the trailer made it seem like this might’ve been better being released as Outlast DLC. Finally picking up my controller though, all doubt was quickly erased. The game has its own original feel and way progressing through the story. While sometimes buggy the player relies heavily on the German Shepard to pick up scents, find objects and point out hidden enemies. The camera was only used on several occasions rather than completely depending on it. Also among the equipment used is a phone and a radio which serves as Ellis only human contact, but these have also worked against him as madness slowly develops. We also cant forget the flashlight that is used to light up the daunting environments and in a combination with Bullet, a valuable source of protection.
The level design is the true highlight of this game. Blair Witch does an excellent job of creating an illusion that the player is exploring an endless environment. Admittingly, taking a closer inspection upon the foliage used, it does need a little polishing but that does not take away from overall quality of the game. It is very impressive how the environments are far from repetitive as the obstacles and puzzles presented will always keep the player on their toes. Navigating the hopeless maze of the Black Hills Forest required both wits and willpower. The sound design of unnatural sounds were often present and seemingly right around the corner. The monster design were disturbing to say the least, with their incredible speed, original and almost treelike appearance and inhuman sounds. Again I don’t want give spoilers but the amount of effort put forth with the ending sequence is very impressive as it takes place in a house that’s a lot bigger than it actually is and will create a strange feeling of claustrophobia that will have you missing the comfort of the endless Black Forest. For any fan of horror this is a must play.