Game Info:

Witch & Hero 2
Developed By: Flyhigh Works
Published By: Circle Entertainment
Released: March 24, 2016
Available On: 3DS
Genre: Action-RPG
ESRB Rating: E for Everyone 
Number of Players: 1
Price: $3.99

Thank you Circle Entertainment for sending us a code to review.

Witch and Hero 2 might be one of the most unexpected sequels to release for the eShop. Back in 2013, Flyhigh Works developed the original Witch and Hero, and it wasn't received very well. Widely criticized for being "too easy" and looking "like a flash game," those who played the original most likely didn't enjoy Witch & Hero. Three years later, has Flyhigh improved the game, or have they just released the same game with a few tweaks?

In Witch & Hero 2, the original main characters - a witch and a swordsman - set out to defeat the Demon Lord, but they are immediately beaten and frozen in ice. This intro will seem very familiar to those who played the first game. It's up to a new, younger witch and swordsman to rescue the former heroes and defeat the Demon Lord.

You control both the witch and the hero this time around which adds some new depth to each battle. The circle pad or the D-pad can be used to move the hero and A, B, X, Y moves the witch. In a similar fashion to many early RPGs you "bump" into enemies to cause damage. Extra damage is applied when you attack successfully from behind an enemy. Every attack drains your own HP and eventually you will die. In the previous game you could rotate the circle pad to quickly revive the hero - this feature returns - but now if the witch is in close proximity to the hero, health will be recovered quicker. Same as the last game, if the witch loses all her health, it's game over.

Witch & Hero 2

Strong Points: Fantastic sprite work; Upbeat and cheery music; Adorable storyline; Good amount of content for the price.
Weak Points: Repetitive gameplay; Backgrounds could be better implemented; Can be difficult to new players.
Moral Warnings: Low amounts of violence; Use of magic; Some usage of occult symbols.

Every defeated enemy will leave behind a droplet of blood. Picking it up and giving it to the witch will slightly increase her magic bar. When full, she will unleash one of two spells depending on which is selected. Pressing R cycles between a "Static" and "Active" spell. Static leaves the witch unable to move, but the magic spell does more damage. Active allows the witch to move at the expense of less powerful multidirectional spells. Returning from the first game is the Holy Sword. With it, attacking enemies will increase a crown shaped meter. Pressing L when it is full causes the hero and witch to become faster and stronger. Activating this ability when the hero faints also restores full health which is very effective in tight spots.

Enemies drop treasure chests that contain either gold, experience points, or health potions. New this time around are treasure chests that grow legs and will attempt to run off the screen. Every battle culminates in a boss fight against a larger variation of a common enemy. Bosses take more damage and deal more damage which can be a bit overwhelming if the hero's defense is too low. At the end of each stage the experience points picked up is usually enough to level up the hero, increasing his health points.

From the world map you can view the stats of your hero and change the current spell of the witch. A new pair of spells unlocks midway through the story. A shop is also available to upgrade the attack, defense, and speed of the hero using the gold collected from each stage. You can also upgrade the effectiveness of the witch's spells in the shop. Also, the layout of the map is a little confusing. It's not uncommon to be on one side of the map, select to move to another stage, and be across the world map. It is only a minor distraction, but it is worth noting.

Witch & Hero 2
Score Breakdown:
Higher is better
(10/10 is perfect)

Game Score - 86%
Gameplay - 17/20
Graphics - 8/10
Sound - 8/10
Stability - 5/5
Controls - 5/5

Morality Score - 83%
Violence - 6.5/10
Language - 10/10
Sexual Content - 10/10
Occult/Supernatural - 5/10
Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 10/10

The world map now contains branching paths that don't really add much in the way of variety, as they all lead to the same destination. It's really up to the player to decide if they want to see every stage or not. Stages themselves are devoid of any obstacles and the entire screen can be walked on even if it looks like you shouldn't be able to. This is one of my first gripes with this series. The stages are made up of a single, static image as the battlefield. This makes each stage seem far more flat than it should be.

Witch and Hero 2 is a short game, lasting just over two hours. With a rather shocking conclusion, the credits rolled and I could only make an assumption that everyone was safe. A secret code eventually pops on screen. This unlocks "Advanced Mode" which essentially is a New Game+ option to replay all the stages with carried over stats and a higher difficulty. 

Two new stages are also unlocked for post game replay. A wave-based stage that pits the witch and hero against a never ending amount of enemies, slowly upgrading the hero by picking up upgrades. The second stage is a time based stage. You have 60 seconds to get a high score, the gimmick being time doesn't count down when the witch has "Static" magic selected. Both add hours of replay value to what was an already short and sweet game. 

Ultimately, this series isn't for everyone. Some may become bored by the gameplay, others may be turned off by the lack of flashy visuals. For those that would enjoy a simple, pick up and play RPG that isn't time consuming and is actually quite challenging, these games are well worth their price tags. If you're expecting anything more than a basic RPG you most likely will not be satisfied by Witch and Hero 2. This game comes highly recommended to those that grew up playing games like Ys or just like retro inspired indie games.


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