The chances that many RPG fans knew of the WitchSpring series is likely fairly small despite the fact that it has seen four separate games released for it since 2015 . To the point that when Kiwi Walks’ WitchSpring R came across it seemed like the first title from the developer. In reality though, this is a remake of the original WitchSpring 1 released back in 2015 for mobile devices and given the full remake treatment to open the series up to a much larger audience. As such, with WitchSpring R now available on PC and set to arrive on consoles sometime in the future, is this RPG worth checking out?
The young witch Pieberry knows very little about the world outside of her forest. In fact, she has barely any memories of when she was a young child beyond that she adored pies with strawberry-looking berries on top of them. As such she has adopted the name Pieberry and has lived her life in the forest, surviving by scavenging for resources while also fighting against monsters and humans who want her dead.Humanity sees witches as children of demons and many fear and hunt them, with most being killed at birth or abandoned in the forest like Pieberry. This young witch doesn’t let that hurt her spirits however as she simply delights in enjoying the pie-like rations that the hunters often carry with them. That all changes one day though when a merchant manages to find his way into the forest and offer Pieberry the pie of her dreams.
With only a small taste of what the outside world has to offer before having it thrown away, literally, by a giant golem, Pieberry decides it is time to venture out into the world even if it means putting herself in danger to do it. With the help of her magic, a very knowledgeable bird that she often has to charcoal, and other allies along the way Pieberry will soon learn far more about the world and its many mysteries, including those related to her own past in this charming RPG that has plenty of cute moments and lighthearted interactions to enjoy mixed in with some solid drama and unexpected twists throughout its runtime.
Perhaps the most entertaining aspect of WitchSpring R’s storyline are the characters themselves and the way they interact with Pieberry. Since Pieberry is a witch completely unaware about the normal world, many of her interactions are rather unique with these individuals, especially when some former enemies become friends and other friends become more interesting and reveal more about the world and themselves at the same time. As mentioned before, these characters help make the game’s seemingly small-stakes feel bigger than they are, especially in the late game. As for Pieberry, watching her growth, literally, is an interesting part of the journey and while WitchSpring R may not have the most intricate storyline, it is certainly an entertaining one.
WitchSpring R has a number of different gameplay systems that work fairly well together and aren’t complicated, though poor planning may result in making the game harder than it should be, as even the Normal difficulty mode is rather easy. Combat is handled through turn-based gameplay and players will, with the exception of story encounters, always see exactly how many enemies and what type of enemies they will be fighting, even giving them a choice to use a buffing item or run away if they wish to.
During combat Pieberry can cast spells, attack enemies physically with her staff, defend, or use an item. Combat flow has some unique elements to it though, with enough turns passing guaranteeing a critical hit, allowing Pieberry to attack again if she manages to defeat a foe with a physical attack, and also immediately counter attack any enemy that misses her. There are other elements that are added later in, such as the ability to trigger powerful special skills based on Pieberry’s staff, utilizing her pets to also fight alongside her, or even having “Black Joe” the bird use an item so she can still take an action. This adds an enjoyable layer of depth to combat, though most encounters often don’t require it outside of certain boss encounters and a number of the more secret hidden enemies players can track down and challenge.
Improving Pieberry’s combat capabilities are another different element that comes into play with WitchSpring R. While players will gain combat experience when killing a group of enemies, she will only get this experience the first time she battles any given group. Instead, the items they drop can be used to either craft potions, spells, and other useful items through a rather simplistic crafting system or feed them into her weaponry to evolve it into a stronger version of itself. Pieberry’s combat level, once increased, provides stat boosts to her training, the primary method players will increase Pieberry’s stats.
As players progress through the game they will obtain various training points that allow them to take on a training regimen back at her house. These can be performed automatically though players can also take part in a simple mini-game to gain a potential bonus that is always worthwhile, especially since the mini-games themselves are simple but lack any explanation which may throw players off initially. Players can also encounter and “mind control” various enemies that they fight against though only unique enemies can be tamed, with the tamed pet having a unique attack/skill that varies, with some of the pets being rather challenging to unlock. This level of customization when it comes to building Pieberry’s abilities, as well as the eventual ability to craft and equip multiple spell elements and types make for a surprisingly solid RPG.
While playing through WitchSpring R there were a few bugs that popped up from time to time as well as one interface annoyance. These bugs weren’t too much of an issue, mostly relating to clipping, but one that appeared often involved field and combat text to be out of place, making it difficult to properly target groups of enemies with AoE attacks. As for the interface issue, while WitchSpring R can be played with a keyboard or a controller, the game does not automatically swap the displayed inputs for what players are using. Instead players must go into the menu system to swap the inputs manually.
Audio & Visuals
WitchSpring R doesn’t have the most impressive graphics around and while many of the areas that players will travel through while exploring in the game are varied from one another, most lack any unique impact to remain memorable. Along these same lines, enemy designs are fairly predictable for standard foes though there are a number of solid looking bosses and unique monsters in the game to encounter. Where WitchSpring R looks its best is with its character portraits that are presented alongside the 3D models of characters during dialogue. The models of characters themselves are decently handled, but their character portraits are often truly exceptional with many characters having a wide-array of expressions and poses they will swap between during conversations. Obviously Pieberry is given the most attention here, with both her younger and eventual older forms.
WitchSpring R does not offer an English dub at the moment and only offers a Japanese voice track as well as a Korean voice track. Both voice tracks work well enough, though it does appear that the Korean dub sounds a bit better at times, though many may prefer the default Japanese voice for Pieberry. As for the soundtrack, WitchSpring R’s background music is unfortunately rather generic and while combat music may sound great some of the time, it also loops quickly and while this is fine as most fights are rather short, longer encounters expose this flaw.
WitchSpring R may be a familiar name for some but came as a pleasant surprise from an unknown, to me at least, developer. The solid gameplay with fairly in-depth customization options makes the turn-based combat quite enjoyable and the storyline it has to offer is both charming and interesting, especially once the plot begins moving forward, though most of the enjoyment is driven by the characters and their interactions. Those looking for a charming but a bit simple RPG will find that WitchSpring R has quite a lot to offer and serves as a great start to what might be a reboot of a previously little known franchise.
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