Wytchwood is a cozy crafting game that follows a crotchety old witch through a fairy-tale inspired landscape. This gentle adventure game involves solving puzzles by crafting potions and spells. While it might feel a little time-consuming to some, the humour drives the story, and you’ll stick around for the hilarious interactions with the witch and her world. Unfortunately, the PlayStation 5 edition of Wytchwood is marred by several bugs and trophy glitches, which take away from the charm of the game.
What is Wytchwood about?
Wytchwood draws on classic fairy tales with a twist, much like Roald Dahl’s Revolting Rhymes, or Rocky and Bullwinkle’s Fractured Fairy Tales. The three pigs are rotten supervisors on a pig farm, the big bad wolf is a womaniser who eats his prey, and Puss-in-Boots is a nasty cat thief who turns villagers against one another.
Enter Wytchwood’s witch. As an old crone with a cauldron on her head, you’re fed up with people and would happily spend the rest of your days not being bothered in your cottage. I could definitely relate…
Unfortunately, you’ve made a deal with a pesky goat and must wander the world collecting the souls he’s demanded, in order to awaken a beautiful maiden. These quests lead you on a wild adventure, bringing you into contact with an eccentric cast of characters, including talking leeches, angry rams, and evil scarecrows. To solve the mystery, you’ll need to complete quests within quests within quests. The items needed to subdue and placate these villains and sub-villains are often hilarious, such as snackrifices, goblin snot, and skeeter snoots. There’s also a certain level of glee as the witch delivers her judgement on these nefarious animals.
A great example of how this humour comes into both the crafting and the gameplay is when you need to persuade a bandit to forsake his ways (turns out, he always wanted to be a dancer). You’ll need to craft a humble pie, which has three ingredients, including crow’s feet. Imagine the glee of the cranky old witch as she sets traps to capture the crows, which snap up into meat and feet.
As a crafting game, the key gameplay involves sourcing materials to make ever more complex items. The rarer the item, the harder the ingredients to come by. You’ll scratch your head to find a certain item, only to realise that you were just in the right location and have to run back. Despite the witch’s amusingly grumpy run, this gets tiring after a while.
Sometimes, you’ll just get frustrated when the game puts up another roadblock on your quest. I have to craft yet another spell? I thought I was done with this… Stick with it. I solved four quests in quick succession because I had collected a load of ingredients.
This gameplay can become repetitive, which is why I don’t recommend rushing through Wytchwood. It’s the type of game to be picked up when you have half-an-hour to spare over a few weeks, rather than played in quick succession. While you have to capture twelve animal souls to appease the goat, I wonder if the game would have been better with a slightly shorter remit, like nine souls.
As for the graphics, Wytchwood features lush visuals across a variety of landscapes. The illustrations by Jesse McGibney and Ariane Laurence are absolutely gorgeous, with a consistent and bright storybook style throughout. These add to the sense of whimsy and humour, as you capture fairies in your net or thwart dancing goblins to snare their ingredients. The art is one of the most appealing aspects of the game, so if you like illustrative games, Wytchwood should be on your list.
Wytchwood: buggy on PlayStation 5
Unfortunately, with every witch comes a curse. Wytchwood seems like the perfect game to play on Switch. Yet there are several frustrating bugs on PlayStation 5 which affected my enjoyment of the game. Despite having finished the game, the trophies for the last four villains didn’t trigger, nor did the platinum trophy for finishing the game. While I’m not always here for the trophies, it’s extremely frustrating when you’ve completed something not to get the trophy.
I also experienced controller issues, where the witch would take on a life of her own and run off. Pressing buttons on the controller did not engage with the world. The only way I could bring the controller back into play was if I pressed the home button, then used the controller again. While you might think this was because of my hardware, I trialled this with two separate PlayStation controllers, and checked that both of them had the latest firmware installed. Still issues.
The mechanic for switching between tools could also be improved. Currently, tools are chosen by thumbing across the bottom menu and pressing R2. This takes time, especially if you have to use one tool after another. However, the game is not designed to be played at speed. Part of the charm of cosy gaming is to relax, settle in, and chase after some frogs with a net!
It’s also important to note that this is not a game for kids. The game features dark humour, killing animals (albeit in a cartoony way), spooky graveyard scenes, and themes of soul sacrifices and black magic.
If you’re looking for an adult, cozy crafting game, Wytchwood is an appealing way to spend several hours – if you can get past the buggy gameplay. Despite some frustrations with the repetitive process of gathering ingredients and crafting potions, I found myself drawn back to the world of the delightfully cranky witch. Sometimes, we don’t need games to be too complicated – we need something to soothe the soul. Wytchwood’s laugh-out-loud moments might not be a balm for a jaded world. But they are for a cranky old crone.