Inspired by the cinematic lore of Blair Witch, experience a new story-driven psychological horror game that studies your reactions to fear and stress.
Title: Blair Witch | Developer: Bloober Team | Publisher: Bloober Team | Release Date: 30th of August, 2019 | Genre: Adventure Horror | Style: First-person | Platform: Playstation 4 | Source: Self-purchased | Content Warning: Possibly triggering war flashbacks (Desert Storm, in particular, there is also another – see below) | Starred Review
Blair Witch Review
I am a little torn on Blair Witch. In one way I really, really liked it. But in a small way, I don’t. I’ll explain.
I love the Blair Witch movies. I loved the first one and I even have affection for Book of Shadows. I did not like the 2016 movie. It was bad and I didn’t like it. I know, I know. Imagine liking Book of Shadows more than the 2016 abomination.
I did try the previous games but I had a hard time getting into them. Action and pew-pew feels weird in the Blair Witch universe. However, they did get the atmosphere mostly on point and kept the lore front and center.
Ok, so. The things I liked first. I really liked Bullet. He was such a good doggo and I spent a lot of time giving him head rubs. He was also useful to find things, keep you on the right track, etc. I did not find him useful for the ‘fighting’, though. If I watched him the creatures would attack me. So I just went by controller vibration and swept the flashlight.
I also loved the story and the videos that went with it. It kept me guessing and the reveal was pretty surprising. I did like the scenery changes during the cutscenes and flashbacks. They were jarring (in a good way) and had me questioning what was real. So, excellent job there. The puzzles could have been better and at times it did feel very limited. The woods felt big but the trails you could walk on were linear. I liked that, personally. The woods looked similar and it would have been super easy to get lost. It was a bit easy to get turned around as it was.
I saw complaints of the woods being very same-y looking and to that I say…they’re woods. You can’t make them super different looking, that’s why real woods are so easy to get lost in. I think they broke it up fine with unique landmarks and the change of scenery in flashbacks.
Ellis was a good character. Now, this isn’t to say he was a good character. When he’s first introduced into the search no one seems to like him except the Sheriff, Ellis’ former boss. Which made me wonder why exactly since Ellis seemed like a decent, average guy with some anxiety issues. The more you learn about him the more you wonder which made some of the later events and revelations that much more shocking. Even then, you can understand his actions. You might not condone them but you can understand what led there.
The game also used some things presented in the 2016 movie that did not work in the movie but the game implemented them very well. It’s more noticeable towards the end. Which was fantastic.
However, there were a few things that I didn’t like that keeps me from giving it the whole five I normally would have. I didn’t like the addition of a character. It felt like it took the focus off of Ellis’ story a bit and just seemed…unnecessary. I really didn’t like it. It felt like he was supposed to be a Rustin Parr parallel but it felt off and way too over-the-top.
The creatures were fine, I guess. Nothing spectacular and the fights were ok. I did glitch into rocks while backing up once and had to reset (by the sawmill).
I don’t mind walking sims if they tell a good story. Which Blair Witch did. It was a great story, just not a story about the Blair Witch. This literally could have been titled anything else. There are some moments – like finding the pictures, hearing what I assume is The Witch whispering to you, the woods screwing with you and the ubiquitous stick figures.
But. This isn’t a Blair Witch story. It’s very much about Ellis and his personal demons and the Blair Witch seems very, very incidental to his story. I’d have loved a game based more on the lore of the first movie.
As above, I really didn’t like the addition of the other character. It didn’t add anything and was pretty annoying. It’s also very, very hard to get anything but the bad ending your first time through since most of the actions you have to take for the good ending are counter-intuitive while playing.
It’s a very good game and I highly recommend it.
GracieKat was the first co-host of Sci-Fi & Scary, Lilyn’s partner-in-crime, and sub-head of the Coolthulhu Crew. She reviews horror books, movies, and games for the site. She also does a weekly Focus on the Frightful feature, and is the site list-maker. She is also in control of the Sci-Fi & Scary podcast which will relaunch soon.
Gracie is also a member of the Ladies of Horror Fiction crew.