Nine Witches:Family Disruption review. The dark pixelated arts of adventure gaming.

1944, Nazi Germany has their backs against the wall and is about to lose the war. In the small remote village of  Sundäe Norway a strange ph...

1944, Nazi Germany has their backs against the wall and is about to lose the war. In the small remote village of Sundäe Norway a strange phenomenon as occurred spelling dark days ahead. It seems the Third Reich’s Okkulte-55 Division seems to have found a way to tap in to the dark arts and unleash a curse to the world in and attempt to turn the tide of war and crush its enemies. Two unlikely heroes will have to put their heads and fists together, figure out the mystery and stop the curse before it is too late.

What is it?
Nine witches is a pixel art adventure game set in world war 2 Germany. You are set out to infiltrate a small (fictional) Norwegian village that has been occupied by the Nazis and become the focal point of an occult conspiracy. Much like the graphical adventures of the past such as the Monkey Island's and Leisure Suit Larry's of the day, you will explore various areas looking for clues, engage in bizarre dialog with even more bizarre characters and solve puzzles and quests on your path to a conclusion if the story. The twist is that you control a team of two different heroes at the same time. Professor Alexei Krakovitz, a Russian paranormal scholar, and his trusty assistant, Akiro Kagasawa, each with their own unique skills. It is going to take the combination of brain and brawn to get to the thrilling conclusion of this adventure.

Even though Nine Witches is an adventure game it comes with a new control scheme built for the controller experience, though if you prefer you can play with mouse and keyboard. The movement is in real time with the left thumbstick, as opposed to click where you want a character to go. Objects of interest will highlight and show a pop up text when you are near and you can use either your inspect button or action button to interact with the object or person. There is also an inventory button to open up your pack (pockets?) and see all the things you have collected so far. In the inventory you can further inspect them as well as use them with any highlighted object or person you are near. There is no combining of items in the inventory itself.

Professor Krakovitz and Akio each also have their own special abilities, some of them only available in context of the game others to use at will. You use the shoulder button to quickly switch between them and use their abilities and perspective on the situation. The professor for instance is paralyzed so he cannot interact with object other then talking to people you meet. But he can go into a séance, disconnecting his spirit from his body moving beyond the world of the living and see and talk to ghosts.

In his sprit form , the professor can also use a insight ability to detect items you can interact with. They will be highlighted with spooky bubbles drifting up from them. A useful tool to make sure you are not missing anything. 

You can also move through closed/locked doors and see what is behind them. Useful to get a clue on what lies beyond and  how to gain entry. 
Later in the game you even gain the ability to control absent minded fools and make them do your bidding through powerful suggestions. A skill I found not nearly used enough in the game in my opinion.

Where Professor Krakovitz is master of the spiritual world, his assistant Akiro is the enforcer of the duo. Pulling levers, digging holes, opening doors as well as keeping a log book, is all taken care of by this loyal assistant. He is also in charge of eliminating dangerous threats through certain moments in the game using a variety of weapons available. He is armed with a trusty side arm that never runs out of ammo, but once in a while will jam. During a fight he can pick up other weapons and use them until he runs out of bullets. 

The shooting mechanic was not my favorite because it felt a bit clumsy at times. You move around freely and line up your shot by moving your character to the "lane" the enemy is in and once you are lined up a red circle around the enemy will indicate you are in line of sight. Mash the button on the controller to shoot and move out the way of their bullets. You can also dodge with the dodge button to make a speedier dash away from their firepower.

Lucky there were not too many of these scenes in the game but at one point they do get pretty hectic. And I had repeated deaths. Lucky the game just reloads quickly and I could retry my tactics and eventually move past the challenge. 

The game is divided in different areas connected by an overworld style map on which you can move from area to area. Some will be locked until a certain event has passed so keep trying to go different places often as something might have changed.

Nine Witches: Family Disruption feels like "Leisure Suit Larry" and "Indiana Jones and the fate of Atlantis" had a baby. The setting of fighting a WW2 Nazi occult division, the weird characters and the mystery of the supernatural give the game an adventurous feel. The sound track and the sound effect work really well and add to the experience without being obtrusive (other then the air raid siren). Comical and unique character designs are fun to look at and have a great amount of details despite their pixelated forms and their are a lot of fun locations to explore.

Where the game did feel a little flat for me was the writing. Even though the overall story line and adventure are intriguing and the answers to puzzles were not overly ridiculously obscured it was the attempt at humor that did not always hit the right spot for me. Maybe it is just me and I outgrew the sense of humor I thought hilarious in the Larry days bit I mean, one can only take so many fart/poop/pee jokes and some other jokes felt a bit forced. So forced in fact that the game on occasion adds its own laugh track after a joke. I get it , it is supposed to be a funny. There is no need to club me over the head with it. So indeed the attempt at humor can be a bit juvenile and ugly.

At other moments where the game did not try so hard to be in your face funny the game was actually a lot more amusing. Seeing the developers appear in game to offer commentary is a fun bit as well as the game throwing an exception error. If there is a sequel I would love to see less "laugh or I'll shoot" attempts as joke and let the funnies flow more natural.

Final thoughts
Despite my problem with the humor of the game and the shooting mechanics I did actually enjoy it . It hits the right spots with its zany cast, the interesting plot and strange characters you meet on the way. Also the use of the controller to play the game was well implemented and with a clear inventory system a solid logbook the UI was not confusing or overwhelming. 

The puzzles were not that hard, it was mostly a matter of thinking logically , talk to the right people and search around to get the things you needed to progress further. No out of left field weirdness as I have seen in some games that you could never guess and only find out by combining weird things together. Nine witches keeps it logical and within reason and I found that a refreshing experience.   The game is not too long as it sits around 5 hours of actual game time, but this can stretch a bit by exploring more and soaking up every little bit of scenery and if you fail some of the shooting levels a few times forcing you to redo them. 

The Nine Witches: Family Disruption is a fun little adventure game with great artwork, some interesting innovations and a lot of heart. 

Game information
Title: Nine Witches:Family Disruption
Developer: Indiesruption
Publisher: Blowfish Studios
Release date: November 09, 2020
Platforms: Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Windows PC
Review platform:  PC ( Steam)
ESRB: T for Teen. (Blood,Crude Humor,Suggestive themes, Violence)


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