DarkPark Zoetermeer: Witchery Spell

By | May 29, 2020

by DarkParkGames (website)

1-4 players

£44.00 $54.40

150-180 mins

Player review

stairs says:

Witchery Spell is probably the best example of "mixed media" I've seen in any at-home escape room game so far. The box bursts open with content - yes, there's the obligatory welcome letter, newspaper cuttings, and journal entries (printed on appropriately different sorts of paper stock), but there's also a wide variety of interesting witchery components - glass vials containing mysterious powders and magic liquids, cloth bags of mystical stones, metal tools, various fabrics, photographs, tarot cards.... And they're not just souvenir trinkets - every single item is beautfully integrated into both the story and the puzzles. Alongside this array of physical artefacts, there are also various online resources that you'll need to visit throughout the course of the game, and you'll find yourself going back and forth between the physical and digital witchcraft worlds throughout. So there is a lot of content, and it's all really high-quality.

A lot of other at-home games we've played have prevented access to certain materials in order to artificially control progression of the game (e.g. "DON'T OPEN THIS ENVELOPE UNLESS INSTRUCTED") - however, in Witchery Spell you have access to everything in the box right from the start. This might seem overwhelming, and there are many components that you simply won't initially understand or know how to use. However, as the game progresses, you gradually gain the knowledge required to make use of these arcane items. Coupled with some superbly-executed "magic tricks" the game provides along the way, you really can convince yourself that you are developing enchanted powers of witchcraft too. This is a masterclass in interactive storytelling from DarkPark.

The puzzles themselves are all on-theme and well-integrated - you won't find any arbitrary 4-digit codes, ciphers or Morse code messages here - and although you'll want to have a paper and pen handy, many of them have surprisingly physical elements that make good use of that array of components.

We only experienced one problematic puzzle, which was caused by an environmental factor that the designers could not have controlled. Unfortunately, getting stuck at this point did lead us to discover perhaps the only disappointing part of this game - the hint system. There are no in-game hints at all - instead, players are invited to join a Facebook group to request hints. When we joined the group, we noticed all the existing posts and replies were in Dutch. This made searching the group to find whether a hint had already been given to our puzzle impossible, and we ended up accidentally translating some posts that related to sections of the game we hadn't got to yet.

Given the high production values throughout the rest of the game, the lack of a self-service hint system seems like a massive oversight. Fortunately, we were able to overcome our problem by ourselves but, had we not been able to, we would have been completely stuck at this point. I really hope that DarkPark consider adding a hint system in future games because, as it stands, Witchery Spell is a sublime experience from start to end, *so long as* you play through exactly as the designers intended. If you get tripped up at any point along the way, you might be on your own though.

Rated between 45 and 45 out of 5
stairs has played 61 games - see all ratings and reviews

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