Blair Witch Review
Extra Features: N/A
Being a big fan of the Blair Witch movies, I was thrilled when I discovered that Bloober Team was developing a game for the franchise. I have no knowledge of the PC games that were released around the time of the first two movies, but I've enjoyed all three movies and the whole mythology centered around the Blair Witch ever since the franchise began. In the game, you take on the role of Ellis, who is joining up with a search party to find a nine-year old boy that has gone missing in the Black Hills Forest in Burkittsville, Maryland. Ellis brings along his German shepherd (Bullet) to help out with the search. The two go into the forest to meet up with the search party and encounter much more than expected.
The game very much borrows a lot of content from the 2016 Blair Witch movie - the monsters in the game are taken directly from the recent movie. The only real reference from the original movie is the mention of the three students that went missing in the forest in 1994. The game takes place in 1996 and has many references to the time period, such as station wagon vehicles and you actually get your own Nokia cell phone.
The overall story to the game is very psychological, much like a Silent Hill. Surprisingly, the game does not use any of the famous areas from the Blair mythology such as Coffin Rock and Rustin Parr's house. The game creates its own characters and instead of constant fear of the Blair Witch and her minions, it delves into the problems of the main character while he faces the evil in the forest. This focus works out very well in the game and overall ending results make the story better than any of the movies.
While collecting notes and other clues, you can call up contacts on your cell phone and contact people with your walkie-talkie. It's got a lot of hidden details, such as contacting a pizza guy to mess with him and you can even play snake on your cell phone. Your dog (Bullet) can be given commands such as searching or sticking close to you. It's amazing the amount of life that Bloober gave to your trusty canine. He acts like a real dog with his barking, whining, rolling in the dirt among other things - it's easy to become attached to him. You can have him search for important items and he will lead you toward them or bring them to you. With some key items, you can have him sniff the item and then take you in the direction of the scent. In a way, the dog is basically your objective marker that will lead you in the right direction.
Blair Witch really has some terrifying moments in it. I play all kinds of horror games and it stands as one of the few that actually made feel unsettled during some of its scary moments. The sound is fantastic. The game brings back some of the unsettling moments from the 2016 movie with constant sound of snapped branches in the surrounding woods and creatures that yell out from behind trees in the darkness. You are armed with a flashlight and you also gain access to a camera later on. Besides night vision, the camera can be used to view tapes that will help you solve puzzles.
The game seems open world from the start, but the forest is actually divided into areas. You will literally return to the same area no matter which way you go at times - this actually borrows from the first and third movie. All areas have a trick to them, such as a puzzle or some certain area to get to in order to move on to the next. The game is very story focused. It breaks out into cutscenes and sequences often. Much of the action is like the "in your face" style of an Outbreak game. Blair Witch seems to function at its best from a first person view, just like in the movies, so the same terror is still very much felt in a first person game.
Right from the start, even while playing on an Xbox One X, stuttering in the framerate was noticeable, but thankfully the game started to run much smoother as I got further into the game. There are also many random glitches that can happen. One of the worst glitches is the dog getting stuck behind objects while moving. I did get stuck in some environments but managed to work my way out. The final area of the game tries to throw tons of stuff at you at once and it feels a bit overdone in its execution to the point of feeling like your retreading through too many story elements and the game is just trying to be longer.
The game clocks in at around six hours long. Even with the technical problems that it has, the presentation and overall quality of the game is quite amazing for a budget title. There are reasons to replay the game once finished, such as areas that were barred off on your first playthrough now being open to exploration. If you're a fan of the Blair Witch franchise, be sure to check out this game - you'll be in for quite a treat. If you're a fan of horror games, you'll enjoy it just as much as a Blair Witch fan. Like I said, the Blair Witch mythology is only a portion of the content since the game deals with the main character's psychological problems as well, so if you're not familiar with the Blair Witch movies, it's still definitely worth playing.
+ Has many Blair Witch movie references
+ The story is gripping
+ It's amazing how a budget title has such good quality
+ The dog companion is a great mechanic
- Framerate issues in the beginning areas
- Random glitches with the dog getting stuck, etc.
Final Rating: 80% - Even though I greatly enjoy the movies, I have to say, Blair Witch makes a better game than a movie.