I must say right away that I am not a fan of Blair Witches . I recognize the film as a milestone in the horror genre and classics of the mockumentary, but I watched it too late to impress me at least. But after Layers of Fear I gave a huge credit of trust to the Bloober Team studio , and Observer only strengthened my confidence: these are the guys whose work I will follow, and no matter what topic their new project will be on.
Unfortunately, Blair Witch proved that sometimes we are in a hurry to give out regalia.
1996 year. Near the small town of Burketsville, eight-year-old Peter Shannon disappears. Ellis, a former cop who hopes to save the child to atone for the sins of the past, is connected to the search for the boy. In the company of faithful dog Puli, he goes to the Black Hills forest, where a group of students disappeared a couple of years ago.
The dog quickly takes a trace, but he leads Ellis deeper into the thicket. And in the forest, where the usual framework of time and space is eroded, the hero encounters not only the man who abducted Peter, but also his own demons.
Review of Blair Witch. Alan Wake at the minimum
I want to praise the gameplay exclusively: Black Hills meets the sun, breaking through the green foliage, delightfully detailed undergrowth and shrubs under the rough spruce. Following the Bullet along the forest paths, you almost smell the needles and again you are convinced that the Bloober Team is able to do atmospheric locations.
Of course, soon the sun is replaced by twilight and the friendly bright forest becomes not so welcoming at all. In the heart of the Black Hills, Ellis, instead of slender Christmas trees, is surrounded by bare, clumsy trunks, and bright colors fade to gray-brown. A bullet leads the owner to an abandoned campground, where Ellis finds a video camera forgotten by someone … and faints to see a couple of flashbacks. When the hero opens his eyes, an impenetrable darkness reigns around, and along with the darkness monsters come.
From the weapons of the former cop – only a flashlight that burns monsters in the best traditions of Alan Wake , and a faithful dog that will always warn of a threat. But Ellis has no choice but to go forward, hoping to find the boy and get out of the damned thicket – after all, the forest, where the witch from Blair rules, does not let anyone go.
We have been offered more than once to scare away monsters with an aiming beam of a lantern (in addition to the Remedy hit, you can recall the same Slender: The Arrival ), but the mechanics haven’t had time to get bored yet. In addition, it is framed by other gameplay finds that prevent the Blair Witch from stamping “deeply secondary”.
First of all, this, of course, interaction with the caudate satellite. The bullet will not only growl in time at invisible creatures, which without his help it is very difficult to see in the darkness, but will also lead the confused Ellis to the next evidence, if you give him the right command.
In addition, Ellis is a war veteran with a post-traumatic disorder (typical of the heroes of the Bloober Team), so that away from the dog he quickly starts a panic attack. It’s better to keep the bullet closer to yourself, since he willingly responds to the owner’s cry … if, of course, he is praised, stroked and fed with goodies. You can scold, but this will affect both the relationship with the pet and the end of the game. And while Ellis is busy with his business, the Bullet behaves like any real dog: rolls upside down on the grass, barks at everything he does not like, and from time to time drags the owner found nonsense like empty bottles.
There is not much hassle with monsters, but even without them there will be something to do in the damned forest. For example, look for clues and solve puzzles using video tapes that change reality. Or travel by rail on a trolley, trying to pass the area where the monsters are willing to eat a pedestrian. Or make your way through the impenetrable fog, where monsters are waiting against which the flashlight will not help: you have to bypass the enemies, guided by the instructions that sound from the walkie-talkie, and the picture on the camera’s screen, which will highlight the hidden creature in time.
During breaks, it is also necessary to establish relations with the girl, talking with her on the antediluvian mobile phone in those few places where the network catches. An unknown person will write to Ellis on the same old telephone, prompting what to do next … or simply mocking the hero. In any case, delving into a vintage device is a separate pleasure. You can even play “Snake”.
It would seem that these nice details should form a no less pretty whole, but the final picture is by no means rosy. First of all, because you guess the “shocking” ending in the first hour of the game.
For both parts of Layers of Fear, I used to piece by piece to collect the story of the hero, recognizing his psychological injuries, but in Blair Witch you read the drama of Ellis too quickly, and by the end of the game there is simply nothing to surprise. The last hour was completely depressed to disgrace. It would seem, here it is, the climax, the moment when all the guns should shoot, and the scattered information about Ellis’s past should form a whole story … but they don’t give you any fresh portion of the plot, and instead, over and over again repeat everything that you have long been already understood. Ellis’s tragic misconduct is procrastinated so that you feel like a cat who is poked into a yellow puddle by the tray.
The gameplay in the last act is not happy either. The ringed corridors from the time of PT managed to get bored (Layers of Fear contributed to this a lot), and it soon gets boring to wander around the ruins. Screamers and scenery after ten minutes completely cease to frighten, the same type of test “pass the monster without looking at him” is tiring, and the developers have not saved anything new. As a result, you would already be glad to die in the arms of a monster, if only it would finally end, but don’t give …
By the time I saw the final video, I just wanted to kill. If the developers thus achieved a complete identification of users with the character, you can applaud them, but this does not cancel the desire to return the game and the money spent.
Immediately before the final cutscene, I generally fell through the textures. As a result, fifteen minutes of the game had to be re-run … and again wander along the dead-end corridors. Thanks, Bloober Team, I just didn’t have enough!
In this chapter, the final game is discussed. Read at your own risk!
The endings (there are two of them), as well as the ways to get them, are the main disappointment. Everything seemed logical in Layers of Fear: you are attentive, you explore the world, you go through the hiding places and nooks and crannies – keep a positive ending as a reward. Blair Witch has no logic. You are encouraged to pick up little things scattered here and there, fight monsters, break witch symbols from rods – after all, Pula really does not like them, who immediately starts whining and growling when they see these souvenirs. And you’ve got used to the fact that the dog protects you from monsters and protects your psyche – it means that you should listen to his intuition, right?
If the bullet is filled with hysterical bark, then somewhere nearby on a branch there is a similar attraction
No. As a reward, you will receive a mocking message that you tried in vain, and the feeling that you were heavily pricked. It turns out that for a good ending you need to stupidly push forward, in no case not touching and not doing anything superfluous; only about the fact that this is superfluous , you guess only after the fact. You go into the room, you see a character with whom you can interact, and you do not expect that when you interact, you immediately drive a knife into his neck. No options, no choice. It is too late to reboot – I really do not want to re-make a long journey along the disgusting corridors. Yes, when you are forced to dance under the direction of a witch, you suspect that the matter is unclean, but that there is, in principle, an alternative way out of the situation, it is impossible to guess from the first passage.
The game does not get tired every time you start to remind you that your steps matter. Doesn’t really help …
But other actions that seem important and should change the fate of the hero do not affect the final in any way. For example, my Ellis regularly called the girl at every opportunity – I thought that this would help the characters overcome the crisis in the relationship. As it turned out, there was no need to bother: Ellis’s fate was determined by other factors, and if the hero didn’t finish well, the girl would wave his hand at him and would not even cry about the lost lover. It doesn’t matter whether you are ready to admit the mistakes of the past or sacrifice yourself for a friend – it’s much more important if you pick up wooden figures scattered here and there, although they do not even look particularly sinister. The right way to the dark side, yeah.