Cotton candy colored artwork, a coven of adorable little witches, and more firepower than a horde of disgruntled dragons. That’s what you can expect when you boot up Trigger Witch from Rainbites Games. Trade in your wands for weapons in this action packed, twin-stick adventure game where you play as Colette, a witch fresh out of her coven’s initiation, who has to deal with her boom stick bountiful world suddenly taking a turn for the worse. A suspicious man in black has kidnapped her mom and only an armory’s worth of ammunition will get her back.
So, we holstered up and hunkered down for an epic, dual wielding co-op experience, but did Trigger Witch hook us lock, stock, and barrel or leave us feeling empty like a discarded rifle clip?
Twin-stick style games hold a special place in my heart mostly because despite being absolutely terrible at them, I still love playing them. Especially if they are multiplayer! So, while I was originally attracted to Trigger Witch because of those eye pleasing aesthetics, once I found out it was also co-op I was all the way on board with my joy-cons at the ready.
For as much as we love to play twin-stick shooters together, it’s not a genre we play very often. When we do however, it’s always a ton of fun blasting enemies away in a beautiful lariat of bullets! One thing that many games of its ilk have in common as well, is a core feature that keeps you coming back for more. Whether that’s over-the-top humor, extreme violence, or even a gazillion different types of weapons to collect!
With that said, what drew me to Trigger Witch’s twin-stick shenanigans was its odd juxtaposition of ultra-cute graphics and shocking violence. Oh, and the fact that you play as a group of magically apathetic witches that tote around high caliber firearms, because they forgot how to sling spells!
In a lot of ways Trigger Witch delivers on everything you would want from a good twin-stick shooter. It has intuitive controls that never fight you when you’re dispatching hordes of enemies, it’s quick and easy to set up co-op sessions (you literally press a button on the P2 controller), and it’s hectic as heck! Pair it with 2D Zelda-esque graphics that remind me of A Link to the Past, a bangin’ soundtrack that only gets better when the chips are down, and pun ridden dialog that makes you crack a smile on more than just a few occasions, and you got yourself a great way to kill some time over a weekend!
With all of that in mind however, there was something about the game that prevented it from really grabbing me. I mean, I enjoyed it when we were playing it, but nothing really compelled me to want to come back, once we put it down. It could have been a variety of things, but in the end, I think it came down to the fact that you end up seeing most of what there is to see within the first hour or so of the game. Sure, you’ll collect new weapons as you go, fight a few different bosses, and visit different regions of the map, but other than an increase in attack power and a palette swap or two, you’ll be fighting the same enemies over and over again!
For a story driven shooter game of this type, I’d say Trigger Witch holds up fairly well. The controls are solid, there are lots of guns to collect and upgrade, and plenty of enemies to blast into oblivion, to pay for all of those upgrades. Where it glaringly lacked though was in the co-op functionality.
As player two, I was a second class citizen all the way. With the first player tied to an important story character I was just a different colored witch that got warped in when the action/exploration started and warped out when cutscenes happened. I didn’t get to upgrade my own weapons either, I was stuck with whatever Patrick upgraded on his weapons. Now I’m lucky enough to have a partner that won’t just do whatever they see fit in a situation like this and Patrick would actually say “So what should we upgrade next?”, but I could definitely see it becoming a point of contention or at least a source of disappointment for other people relegated to player two status. My complaint is that it didn’t feel like the true co-op experience I was hoping for where we were each our own character, making our own decisions. Instead, I was just kind of a helper, there to aid in Patrick’s quest or avoid getting a game over if he died in battle.
The second class co-op obviously threw me for a loop and it would be nice to see a true multiplayer system integrated in but honestly what tarnished the overall experience the most for me was, unfortunately, the ending. I won’t spoil the details here but I will say that up until that point the game was just flat out cute, and colorful, and playfully tongue in cheek. The ending really took a turn to the dark side… a very odd dark side. The dose of realism didn’t fit at all with the rest of the story and while I can understand the “aha” moment the writers were going for, I just personally don’t think it clicked the way it was intended to.
That aside though, there were plenty of things I really liked about Trigger Witch. The retro style graphics were super fun and the soundtrack was pretty bangin’, especially when it would switch over to a metal-ized version for each song as you encountered enemies. Also, we started out on the standard mode with all the blood and gore, which in the beginning amused us with its stark contrast to the rest of the graphical style. Once we switched over to the piñata mode however, I found the experience to be much more enjoyable. Although the candies and confetti tended to obscure the gems, at least now the entire rest of the landscape wasn’t obscured by a mountain of blood and guts! So, I’m glad that the option was there to change it up.
Despite its lack of variety in gameplay, there was enough charm to keep us invested enough to see it through to the end, even if we were a bit reluctant at times. Honestly, in my mind there isn’t much beyond that. Well, except for not being able to warp between each location! Which, in the end, really hindered one of the best parts of the game. Exploring and finding the collectibles. Luckily the world map isn’t that big, and you can at least warp back to the central hub, but it still made trekking from end to end a bit tedious.
I do appreciate Rainbite’s dedication to keeping the game light hearted (for the most part), and over-the-top! That and I loved the idea of them awarding you with achievements that promoted messing around with the game’s various settings. Like turning off the gore, and replacing it with confetti! It’s small things like that that always leave a good impression.
Games that feature local co-op aren’t quite as prominent as they used to be, and because Rainbite went out of their way to include it in Trigger Witch, it really made it the perfect game to play together! We didn’t have to pass the controller around, and we could cooperate to fight bosses, solve puzzles, and fight off the onslaught of enemies that constantly tried to ruin our day!
We only really encountered a couple of issues while playing multiplayer in Trigger Witch. The first being the lack of a “true” second player. Where player 2 shares all progression, but doesn’t have their own standalone character. And the fact that the game’s difficulty isn’t really adjusted to accommodate for a second player. Meaning the challenge for most encounters and puzzles are significantly reduced.
The co-op hierarchy issues aside it was still a pretty fun game to play together. Having two people traverse the dungeons cooperatively definitely made a few of the puzzles easier to solve and absolutely made the bigger battles a breeze as we slaughtered our way through. Our witches were pretty similar colors so we did get mixed up during the chaos more than a few times, but with Trigger Witch as long as you’re blasting bullets in every direction you’ll be fine regardless.
Trigger Witch didn’t exactly blow our minds with gameplay innovation or even with it’s story it seems, but that’s not to say it’s not worth a playthrough. We still very much enjoyed ourselves overall and if you’re in the market for a fun twin-stick shooter with a dash of gore and a whole lot of cuteness, then we think this game will fit the bill nicely.