The game version of Blair Witch is unexpectedly rugged. But how does the conversion to Switch work?
The fall of 1999 had the film The Blair Witch Project premiere; an extremely low-budget horror filmed with shaky handheld camera in lousy video quality. Even today it is the scariest cinematic experience I have had in cinema. There was something about how it was told and that one was genuinely terrified that “soon it will be night again”. Seeing the film with a crowded audience caused the group dynamics to increase anxiety and terror and I really sat there like needles. When the movie later came out DVD and I looked at it so it was a single long yawn. It wasn’t scary anywhere, but at the cinema: oh, oh, oh!
The film received two sequels and none of them could reach the heights the first film did. Rather, it became a tedious rapture of the first film. So when it announced a game based on the legend of Blair Witch then I became interested. Can the game be better than the movie publisher?
Blair Witch takes place in 1996, where a young boy has disappeared in the forest. The police have gathered together for a large search effort. We play Ellis, who is a former police officer with a dark past. He arrives late and enters the forest only in company with his faithful dog bullet. Soon it turns out that there are dangers out in the woods that no one could have imagined …
Blair Witch pulls one into the story directly and we get to know more and more about our character Ellis the further into the forest he travels. It is also so cleverly constructed that depending on how you play him, the game takes different paths. When things start to get dangerous, you realize a lot about yourself. To help you have the dog Bullet and luck is well – because without him you would have been completely lost in the forest. You can ask him to search and if there is anything nearby he will find it. A little further into the game you will also find a camcorder that you can manipulate time and reality with. It sounds flimsy and that’s it at first, but in the end you are like on needles to get further into the forest and find more clues.
Unfortunately, there is a back side to walking around the forest throughout the game. It eventually becomes a bit one-handed and when you finally switch to something else, it is only short sections. Sometimes I found myself playing Snake on Ellis’s cellphone instead of trying to find where I was going.
But give it all some time. It’s an enveloping world thanks to the music and sound effects – and it’s really exciting. The feeling from the movie is here and there is an icy, creeping feeling of discomfort because you never know what will be around the next bend.
When I started playing, I thought it was a much older game than it is (it was released to other consoles in 2019). For some strange reason, I was absolutely sure it had at least seven or eight years on its neck. With a little research, it is as follows: It is a powerful downscaling of the game, for it to work for the Nintendo Switch. Which is very boring, because it takes away much of the experience. Not only does everything look angular and colorless, but there are a number of times that graphics pop up and disappear – it’s really sadly converted. Blair Witch still floats on decent as a whole, but there are quite long charging times in portable mode. Then the game has a bit of the same problem as Bioshock: The Collection: the really dark night scenes become difficult to see in portable mode unless you’re sitting in a completely dark room.
In summary, it is Blair Witch yet the best and most interesting sequel to the 1999 roller coaster I experienced. Sure, the game suffers from some graphic flaws but it has a genuine and cool story that engages. Recommend to play it with a pair of cozy headphones in the summer cottage or why not in a tent in the woods?