You membah back in 1999 when The Blair Witch Project was released and everyone kinda went mental over it? Or maybe you don’t, I mean it was a long ass time ago that I barely remember myself but I do remember the share volume of people falling for the premise and of course how it kickstarted the whole Found Footage genre. I didn’t end up seeing Project until I was in High School, I knew of it, knew it was about a tape found by some people who were hunted by a Predator in a jungle Witch in the woods (which is debatable, I think its a movie in which two dudes fake a haunting to murder a chick, but hey you say tomatoes and I say maters.) Then in 2016 a third movie was released and collective minds were blown for what ended up being an average movie and all was quiet on the Blair Witch front, until 2019. During E3 2019 it was announced that a new Blair Witch game would be the first since the trilogy released in the early 00’s for PC.
Developed by Blooper Team the creative minds behind Layers of Fear and Observer both received their fare share of praise and had a great sense of atmosphere. A licence put into capable hands right? Well yes, they did a pretty good job overall and made Blair Witch so much better than it had any real right to be. The game is set in 1996 a couple of years after the events of the first movie in which you play the roll of Ellis an army vet and police officer on leave who after hearing of the abduction of a 9 year old boy, who has been taken into the Black Hills Forest, joins in the search effort with his trusty dog Bullet at his side. Blair Witch is a first person horror game in which you make your way through the forest in search of the boy while solving puzzles and fighting monsters, yeah I will get to that one in a bit.
Enough of about all this you heard me mention you get a Doggo as a companion and you wanna hear more about that you say, oh alright I’ll allow it. Bullet, your trusty good boy would more often than not be relocated to the possession of gimmick in any other game; yes I’m looking at you Fable 2. However much to Blooper Team’s credit Bullet is an essential to your survival. He will help you fight, find collectibles and lore while scaring off bumps in the night and tracking the scent of the boy you went in there to save. Like I said he is such a good Doggo. The game also encourages you to treat him, well they let you treat him however you like, maybe you are a terrible person and want to scold him all the time, you can do that but it works out much better if you pats him, praise him and give him treats.
Much like other ventures in Blair Witch series this game also has a video camera as a key feature, shortly into your journey through the woods you will encounter said video camera which is also the signal for shit to start getting weird…er than they already are. The camera will allow you to view tapes which will fill in some story more importantly however it will allow you to play special red tapes. Red tapes will allow you to change and interact with the world at hand being your key to unlock all of the puzzles the game holds. Can’t open a door? Find a red tape and play it until you find a scene in which the door is open, return to the door and magically it is open. This aspect is probably the most fun the game has to offer, sure there are some other simple puzzles here there, move switch to allow train tracks to change standard things like that. While red tape puzzles aren’t ever mind blowing they are fun to think about and get involved in.
Yes, I previously mentioned monsters didn’t I? If you recall a certain being from the 2016 movie then you will know what to expect from these guys… Kind of anyway. Monsters in Blair Witch are fast, so much so you probably wont even see them movie. So in order to track these monsters you have to rely on Bullet (the dog, not the things guns fire, they are in this game so don’t worry about them) he will show you where they are, by pointing them out and barking. Did I mention just how much of a good boy he is? So yeah, the know gun thing, instead you have your handy dandy flashlight. Much like Alan Wake you will aim your flashlight at the monsters in order to dispell them. Much like the red tape puzzles, it’s fun, nothing brilliant or revolutionary but it’s fun to do.
The game does have one glaring flaw though that you can’t do a single thing about and is really hard to look over as it follows you as soon as your character takes his first steps into the game; your walk cycle is super slow and 75% of the game feels like a walking sim. But I mean if you wanted a walking in spoopy woods sim you are in luck.
Blair Witch does nothing that will blow you away but sometimes that’s ok as what is here is really solid for the most part. It’s a well put together game which shows care for its source material wanting to work in the confines of it while trying to add its own spin in there without it feeling out of place. If you are a super huge fan of the franchise you may find it lacking as to dig into the real story of The Bell Witch you need to go out of your way to find it in this game. If you are looking to kill some time in a horror themed game with some great atmosphere then Blair Witch will easily fill that gap.
Zombie Reviewed a retail copy of Blair Witch on an Xbox One S.