Developer: Bloober Team
Publisher: Lionsgate Games
Platforms: Xbox One, PC (reviewed on Xbox One X)
Code Provided: No
About Blair Witch:
Blair Witch is a psychological/survival horror game developed by Bloober Team and published by Lionsgate Games for Microsoft Windows and Xbox One. It is based on the Blair Witch franchise, and was released on August 30, 2019. Inspired by the cinematic lore of Blair Witch, experience a new story-driven psychological horror game that studies your reactions to fear and stress.
When the Blair Witch Project came out in theaters, it gave you the belief that three college students really did get lost in the woods and the only thing that was left behind and found was some footage on their video cameras. From the beginning and ending of the movie, it left you questioning and speculating on what exactly happened to the students. And to a lot of people, you thought it actually happened and that terrified the audience even more. Blair Witch doesn’t really recapture the movie, but it keeps the story frightening and sometimes the player looking around the room for the light switch.
Bloober Team does an amazing job from start to finish capitalizing on the horror franchise, minus a few bugs. You arrive at the scene of a search party team in Black Hills Forest with your good boy dog Bullet to help aid you with the search of a missing boy. As you make your way into the forest, things start getting more confusing and creepy as you walk along the linear paths. As you walk from place to place, you get a unwelcoming sense that something might pop out of the trees at any second.
When you are lost or stuck trying to find your way, you can have Bullet search the area and help you out finding clues and some collectible items you might have missed while on your journey, but I found him more useful when enemies were lurking nearby. Yes, you can also pet Bullet, and you’ll get an achievement for doing so.
Some of the enemies can be taken out easily just by flashing your flashlight at them until they disappear, while others that can not be seen, unless you are looking through your camcorder, will make you carefully tread and find a safer path away from them. These enemies can see your every move so if you get close, they’ll get you. With these encounters, it’s best to not make eye contact.
While you’re making your way through the woods in search of the missing boy, you’ll also come across some lost videotapes that can be played however many times. Some of these tapes offer clues and can help you manipulate reality by rewinding or fast-forwarding a tape to the point where a fallen tree is standing upright again or opening and shutting doors that may be blocking your path. Some of the other tapes just go along with the plot of the story.
While playing through Blair Witch, I encountered some annoying bugs and frame rate issues. The biggest bug I encountered had me restarting my checkpoint three times where the footprints I needed to see in my camcorder that showed me the path I needed to take were nowhere to be found. A few tries later, they appeared where they needed to be and I was finally on my way to further explore the game. The frame rate issues I had were noticeable, but they were just more annoying than game breaking as they didn’t happen to me that often.
One of my favorite sections of Blair Witch was the rail cart section where you would watch a tape that gives you a clue on how to put back together the machine that’s missing a valve gauge and a handle where you’ll have to travel to a couple more areas along the rail path to find these parts in order to open the way for you to further progress in the story. All of the puzzles and manipulating videos aren’t tough. No puzzle in the game had me thinking too hard on how to complete it.
The more you walk in the woods, the more you are confronted with Ellis’ troubled past whether its with his love Jess or him on the battlefield with his fellow soldiers. Later on in the last act, Ellis’ past comes into play more and this is where the game is most enjoyable. You’ll end up inside an abandoned house. The most jump scares that I experienced in Blair Witch were while I was exploring and getting around inside the house. You’ll encounter enemies that can only be seen through your camcorder and it becomes even more terrifying when you’re trying to avoid them. Sometimes when looking through the camcorder you’ll see shadow human like figures just walk or run past you that will give you a few scares and in my experience, setting down the controller and take a breath. This last task of you navigating inside the abandoned house will make you feel like you’re walking in circles more than in the previous parts of the game which is pretty much how the movie was.
Bloober Team did an excellent job with Blair Witch. They managed to do a wonderful job recreating the haunting atmosphere and surroundings of Blair Witch Project with its own creative twist. For a $30 price tag, this game is well worth it for all horror video game fans and fans of the movie. I will probably find myself in the Black Hills Forest once again in the near future discovering alternate endings and picking up any collectibles I left behind in the woods.