Have you ever read a book and then saw the movie based on that book, or saw a remake of a classic TV show into a movie, and thought – HEY, how did you people manage to completely screw up such an amazing premise?!?! That is pretty much my review of A Witches Tale, but let me supply you with a few hundred words of context.
Which Witch is Which? Liddell is a young witch-in-training who wants to be the greatest witch in the world, but she isn’t willing to work for it. One day, she discovers a secret tome that unleashes an evil witch that has been sealed away for hundreds of years. Now accompanied by the tome’s vampire guardian and newly-appointed babysitter, Loue, Liddell is forced to go on a journey to fix her mistake. In a Witch’s Tale, the stylus becomes your magic wand. Control the entire game with the stylus! The intuitive magic battle system simply lets you touch and slide spells onto attacking enemies.
A Witches Tale starts off with a load of scenes separated by some short interactive bits. The story has a distinct Halloween theme – the setting even has pumpkin lights – and tells the tale of evil rune magic that had threatened to doom the world until a powerful witch named Alice was able to seal away the evil Eld Witch. A millenium has passed, and along comes an arrogant young witch named Liddel who aspires to be the most powerful witch of all time – at any cost!
Naturally Liddel sets the Eld Witch loose and then teams up with a vampire named Loue who had been guarding the tome that held the ancient evil. Together they travel to the various kingdoms that spoke off the hub city to undo all of the evil that the witch has wrought and – of course – eventually face her to deal with her once and for all. As I mentioned, the setup is good, and that expands to the hub-and-spoke world: there are elements of stories such as Alice in Wonderland and Nightmare Before Christmas and likely some anime elements I don’t know all referenced here nicely . The problem is that none of it ever goes anywhere.
You enter an area – using the touch screen for EVERYTHING – and wander around the map, bumping into random encounters as you go. The combat system is a turn-based drag & drop process: if you want to do a standard attack you just drag your attack icon onto the enemy of your choice, and if you want to do a magic attack you select magic and then drag your spell icon onto the enemy of your choice. The special rune magic is done by using the stylus to draw the rune. Combat is slow as well as random, and never very rewarding in any way.
Your party also includes special dolls that are figures of power in this magical world. You start with a basic doll that does a standard attack, but as you play on you get new dolls, some of which have magical attacks. The party shares a non-regenerating magic pool, so you need to make choices carefully in battle.
That is pretty much it – intriguing setup followed by boring combat, random encounters against boring enemies and lousy controls for about a dozen or so hours. It has been interesting to watch each of my kids in turn grab the game and give it a shot before abandoning it. I thought my younger son might actually enjoy it more because of his imagination, but about an hour later he was playing Myst and returned the game to me.
So I would classify A Witches Tale as a tragedy.
Review: A Witches Tale
Where to Buy: Amazon.com
What I Like: Wonderfully intriguing setup; Effective graphics and presentation
What Needs Improvement: Terrible touch-screen-only controls; Dreadful combat and gameplay
Source: Review code provided by publisher