Kiwi Walks may not be a studio that’s very well known, but in their ‘Witch Spring’ series they’ve managed to capture the essence of gaming on a system like the Sony PSP or Vita, and bring it to the mobile market for iOS and Android.
Whilst the original Witch Spring never made a big splash when it received an English translation, its sequel is a game that deserves a lot more attention than its received to date. High production values, a witty script and enough content to fill-out a fully-fledged console release make the game the perfect time sink for people who enjoy games such as ‘Atelier Iris: Eternal Mana’.
Graphically, the whole game is built using a 3D engine specific to this title and its forebearer, with a grid-based feel to the way in which the world is pieced together but freedom to move where you want in any direction. Character models are interesting and largely unique between characters, making for a wide variety of shapes and sizes, whilst the visual design for the setting has a soft-fantasy, anime aesthetic. Everything conjures up a PSP era feel, and this game would have felt right at home on that handheld. Menus are clear, simple to understand and attractive to the eye whilst battles have a high level of visual flair.
In terms of sound design there is a very sugar-sweet feel to the game that puts it in the same bracket as the ‘Harvest Moon’ series. Occasionally dipping into some sadder tracks, for the most part the game is upbeat and focuses on an air of cuteness. Sound effects are similarly pitched to the same effect, with some of the battle sounds less violent than you would imagine them to be because of it. It’s well put together, but fails to match the sad tone at times.
You take on the role of a young deity (don’t call her a witch!) named Luna who lives a fairly lonely existence in the forest outside a human settlement. Humanity, it seems, has spread and overtaken much of the world, pushing magical beasts and gods to the fringes and hunting many down to excessive levels. Where Luna once had childhood friends both among her fellow magical kin and humans alike, she now spends her days studying magic alone. The game sees her reaching out, trying to make friends and evolving as a character through a series of emotional arcs, but largely allows the player to stumble and find things on their own, leading to the game feeling plot light at first. Scratch the surface however and there’s quite a lot to discover. Dialogue is well written and at times witty, though does occasionally suffer from overly-dramatic phrasing.
Gameplay sees you sweeping the screen with a finger while Luna runs along behind you or tapping a location to make her run there. Areas range in size but link to multiple other locations in a slowly-expanding world that at first feels small but unlocks in an almost ‘Legend of Zelda’ style manner to present some intricately designed interlinking maps. There’s a ‘Pokemon’ style glee to discovering a new path that was previously inaccessible and learning that the world expands dramatically there-after. As you explore, monsters are clearly visible and static on the field. Approaching one will initiate turn based combat, and whilst what is presented is simple, it too is a building block for further development. The key feature of Witch Spring 2 is in improving yourself, be it through a series of daily exercises to slowly increase stats, finding a judo master to teach you how to attack multiple times in one turn or finding elemental books that contain spell recipes. The whole thing is packed with ways to power up, expand your knowledge and mix/make new items. Whilst you’re a witch my default, you can quickly build up a powerful physical attack of up to 6 consecutive strikes in one turn, each based on the level of a different stat, or concentrate on improving the level of an elemental spell as well as boosting its effects with sub-circles and sigils. As you explore you’ll also discover pets who must first be defeated in combat before being tamed. These range from simple cats to floating eyes and giant turtles and each has an ability to help you battle, explore or heal. Health and MP are important here because they are the currency you expel to train, leading to you risk/rewarding each day that the internal clock gives you. Certain lunar cycles also affect your stats, and NPCs appear at phases of the moon to forward the story, but the game never locks you into a strict ‘100 days to complete me’ rule like many similar titles in this category and as such really works as a casual, drop in and out, game.
Overall, Witch Spring 2 is a bargain on iOS and Android as a one-time purchase. It does consume a fair amount of space on your device, but the size and intricacy of the world make that an acceptable and understandable loss when coupled with the 3D graphics. We’d highly advise you to seek it out, and look forward to Witch Spring 3 as and when it appears.