Capsule Review: Picdun 2: Witch's Curse

A fairly simple first-person grid-based dungeon-crawler. You always have one of three partner characters with you, each with different strengths for the game’s active but streamlined combat. Press one button to do a single-target attack (which the archer excels at), press another button to attack all enemies (which the whipper excels at), and another button to block enemy attacks - do it with perfect timing and execute the QTE that follows to unleash a super attack (which the spellcaster excels at). It’s simple to get the hang of, but with just enough depth to keep it engaging through the brief combat encounters - watching the enemy animations to block at the right time, watching your own attack meter recharge to attack at the right time, and attacking in the right way depending on the enemy party.

The three partner characters all have a bit of personality but there isn’t much in the way of character interaction or story. The game starts abruptly with you finding yourself in a dungeon and subsequently meeting the girls, each of whom tags along with you for no real reason. But only one accompanies you at a time, and you can’t switch freely - reducing the already-limited strategic possibilities of combat.

The dungeon is made up of a series of grid-based levels. A minimap auto-fills as you explore, and if you find each tile the map forms a simple picture. This task is complicated by features like false walls, slippery floors, and one-way teleporters, but the map and the “pedometer” in each level that tells you how many tiles remain unexplored keep things manageable. This isn’t really anything new, but it adds some much-needed variety to the dungeon levels.

Each level also has one or two puzzles, and this is where things start to fall apart. The challenge lies in understanding what the game wants to you do, not in figuring out how to do it. The vague and questionably-translated clues are only visible if you have the right partner with you, with no way to plan ahead and pick the correct one. It’s tempting to ignore these puzzles, but solving them is how you get weapon upgrades. And while you’re experimenting and trying to figure them out, you’ll be repeatedly disrupted by random encounters, which turns combat from an exciting change of pace to an annoying distraction. This can easily be enough to shift the overall package from an accessible and light experience to a frustrating and frankly unfair mess.

I Stopped Playing When: After half an hour or so, it was clear that the game’s emphasis was not on the simple but serviceable combat or exploration but rather on the obscure and arbitrary puzzles.

Docprof's Rating:

One Star: Not for me. While there might be someone out there who'd enjoy this game, I was actively repulsed by it or just found nothing to latch on to.

You can get it or learn more here.