On seeing Ashina: The Red Witch for the first time I was excited about what it had to offer. It looked like an old Pokémon game with all the Studio Ghibli charm. Let’s see if you can tell a book by its cover.
The afterlife I have been dreading
You take the role of Ashina, who travels to the Afterlife to get her mother’s pendant back from a spirit called Tanto. This pendant is the most important thing in her life (other than her sister Tena) after her mother died a few days prior. Tanto by the way looks just like Vivi from Final Fantasy IX but with a terrible attitude. Little does Ashina (or Ash to her friends) know that where she is going is the realm of the afterlife.
She is also told she has only 24 hours to get the pendant as the path home is disappearing. Queue the monotonous fetch quests that you need to do. Ashina: The Red Witch had so much to offer but fell flat. There is no combat, no real puzzles, it has no exploration and takes place in small towns and buildings. They should have made it a point-and-click adventure and a story-driven game. It would have made you actually care about the story.
The beauty in the Pixel
Ashina: The Red Witch itself looks great. The old-school 3D pixel art tugs at your nostalgic heartstrings. The bit of animation we get is very well done as well, I just wish they would have added more.
The soundtrack is everything you could want in a game like this. It sets the tone nicely in parts. There is an issue sometimes where everything is silent and I wondered if it was a glitch or intentional. When this happened I found myself flying through the dialogue just to get some music back.
The controls are really simple. You can use the directional buttons or analogue sticks to move. You will use L1 to sprint a lot as you will be zipping from one end of the screen to the next just to finish quests.
The saving grace for Ashina: The Red Witch is that it’s a short game. It does have multiple endings for those completionists. The game itself wasn’t my cup of tea but I can see the charm. The graphics and music were lovingly crafted. If you have played the other games in this series then go for it. If not like me then I would give it a miss sadly.
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