Stephanie Sybydlo
E3 2019: Project Witchstone Preview
The creators of Omensight go old-school.
07.06.19 - 6:58 PM

Project Witchstone was created by Spearhead Games, the same studio behind Stories: The Path of Destinies and Omensight, two well-reviewed games with incredible gameplay and a unique art style. This is by no means to talk things down, but Witchstone is turning back the clocks a little in order to bring a more traditional CRPG experience — that is to say, Spearhead is taking its proven game development talents to add a fresh coat of paint to a well-worn genre.

Taking place on a recently discovered fantasy continent that harbors the magical Witchstone, an incredible source of power used to bring certain modern amenities (lighting, basic machinery, etc.) to the land, several newly arrived factions are trying to harness its great power for themselves. It's up to you to decide whether to join them, betray them, or work your way up to become this continent's next king...or dictator.

Project Witchstone Screenshot

And you do achieve this by literally playing however you want. You can ally with people, turn on your party, join factions, or fight rival ones. Heck, with enough power, you can even raze a village. Of course, you won't be too popular going this route; doing so also will destroy possible relationships/allies/quests. Spearhead Games are truly taking the time to craft a fully functional and reactive world that will change as you act within it. If you side with one faction, then those from an opposing gang will fight or refuse to help you unless you can pay them off, or do them a favour.

Project Witchstone Screenshot

Delving further into this idea, dialogue options are also very open-ended. Exchanges tend to compensate for many elements: Your usual "yes/no" applies, but also you can "roll the dice" with a quick and easy randomizer menu that should aid the process for more difficult requests. Perhaps the most interesting aspect is that a comrade can be ordered to do something through an "ad lib" drop-down menu where you can choose the desired location you want them sent to (e.g. the pub, the blacksmith, their house) and what action to commit (e.g. steal, fight the guard, distract). This level of freedom of choice should make Witchstone an incredibly varied and fun experience, as problems can be solved with more than one method; Spearhead wants to emphasize an incredibly non-linear experience.

Project Witchstone Screenshot

The game boasts an impressive 10 character classes (with the potential for more), features neat and quick turn-based combat with limited tactical movement, skill trees, numerous towns and dungeons, and puzzles within said dungeons. Actions also include fun elements like bribing people, framing others, hiding bodies, job perks (e.g., recruiting a blacksmith can net you free weapons!), stealth sections, and negotiations. Spearhead Games intends to add co-op in the future so you and you friends have an open-ended adventure to take on.
Project Witchstone is set to release sometime next year. Given the developer's track record and what I've seen, I think those looking for a new Diablo-like or seek the old-school world building of pen-and-paper RPGs, or heck, even those looking for a new non-linear game, you may want to keep an eye on Project Witchstone.