New ‘Blair Witch’ title haunts a store near you

The month of August saw the release of a new horror genre video game focused on “The Blair Witch Project.”

Retailing for $30, the game was surprisingly priced far under most triple-A titles, which are usually $60 as an industry standard. The game based itself from the movies with a spin off featuring an entirely new plotline with Ellis, our protagonist, and Bullet, his faithful canine companion. As an enticing side note, players can pet the dog.

The game takes place shortly after the original film and follows Ellis in his search for Peter, a child that has gone missing in the same forest that the film’s campers were doomed upon entering.

The design of the forest map is interesting to say the least. Although beautifully detailed, the layout is completely nonsensical. Players may find it hard to navigate if they are not paying attention to landmarks that may or may not be there the next time Ellis looks for them.

Bullet, unexpectedly, isn’t just for show. He holds a major set of gameplay mechanics in his fluffy coat. Not only does he respond to praise or scolding, but Bullet can sense enemies before the player character can. The pup also reacts to commands, follows scent trails, and can look for areas or objects of interest.

The “Blair Witch” game is clearly meant to be replayed, as not all the choices the player makes will seem coherent in the first playthrough. Different endings can be achieved by making dramatically divergent decisions from the first playthrough, or by doing something so simple as treating Bullet differently.

Blair Witch does, however, have its own significant downsides. Upon release it was oddly filled with bugs. Considering that the title is slightly more indie than triple-A titles like Alien Isolation or Soma, it’s only a little surprising. Some bugs were circumstantial, others were not easily avoided. One of the glitches was even classified as ‘game breaking’ by the players.

The company that produced this new Blair Witch title isn’t unknown to the gaming community. Most fans of horror genre games would recognize the name of their first-hit title: Layers of Fear. This title was very much like Blair Witch upon its release. Both games had bugs at their release, both were first-person view games, and their environments were well detailed and interactable.

A major difference between the two is the lack of purely psychological mechanics. Layers of Fear was a game with an environment purely influenced by the mind of the player’s character: a mentally unstable painter. Blair Witch combines an unreliable narrator with real enemies that are far more interactive than the mostly static threats in Layers of Fear.

This game has multiple endings and is highly replayable. The environments are just as confusing the second and third time around. Not to mention staying in one positive or negative play style can be difficult since some choices aren’t immediately obvious as to whether or not a decision the player has made is good or bad. There aren’t nearly as many choices as a “butterfly effect” game like Until Dawn, but the game endings are interesting.