The Knight Witch

A game by Super Awesome Hyper Dimensional Mega Team for PC, Switch, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, and Xbox X/S, originally released in 2022.
The Knight Witch is a metroidvania with shmup-style combat, twin stick controls, and card-based spellcasting. You take on the role of a woman named Rayne, but she’s not actually the star of the story… at least not at first. The game centers around a quartet of heroes known as the Knight Witches, who gain their power and magical abilities through the faith that people have in them. The Knight Witches lead a rebellion against Emperor Erebus, who has led the empire to ruin by exploiting the land, leaving a broken and polluted world in his wake.
In a playable flashback, you control the most powerful Knight Witch, Robyn, who bears the nickname of The Angel of Destruction. Supported by her sistren, she makes her way to the emperor, and the battle ends in a tremendous explosion, creating a giant crater that reveals a series of ancient tunnels. With the war at an end, survivors from both sides of the conflict relocate to a long-forgotten underground city known as Dungeonidas. The city runs on technology that the people don’t understand, but it provides them a safe haven, with breathable air, electricity, and enough food to feed those who remain.
14 years later, the people of Dungeonidas are celebrating the inaugural Robyn’s Day in remembrance of the hero who saved them. Here you take control of Rayne, a seemingly normal villager, except that she is able to fly like the Knight Witches. As the story unfolds, you learn that Rayne originally trained to be a Knight Witch, but she didn’t make the cut and found herself sitting on the sidelines as the war went on. But suddenly, the city of Dungeonidas comes under attack, and Rayne now has an opportunity to help the people… and to learn what truly happened after the Battle of the Broken Sky.
You are able to fly freely through the environment, and you have three methods of firing projectiles. The twin stick controls allow you to aim independently of movement, and this is the most common way to engage enemies and deal with environmental obstacles. In addition, you may move and fire without aiming, which will shoot projectiles in whichever direction you’re facing, and – more importantly – when you get within medium range of an enemy, you will lock on and fire directly at them. This is more precise than aiming manually, but your shots only do half the damage when using this method. As such, it’s best used to strafe swarms of weaker foes or those that don’t fire back.
Your rate of fire is quite slow (especially compared to that of Robyn in the intro), so precision is important, but you can also make use of spell cards that temporarily grant stronger and/or faster projectiles. As you save people and make new friends, your bond with them grows, and each time you reach a certain threshold, you can level up. When leveling up, you may select between knight or witch abilities, with knight abilities generally increasing your firepower, and witch abilities increasing your magic. You also have opportunities to increase your maximum health and mana.
Magic is card-based, so you must manage a deck of cards based on those you’ve discovered in the environment or earned from boss encounters. You may select a limited number of cards for your deck, and you’ll automatically equip a random set of three cards for your hand. Each card represents a single spell – and each costs a different amount of mana to use – and once a spell is cast, another random card is drawn from the deck. Enemies occasionally drop mana when killed, allowing you to refill the meter and cast more spells, but finite magic means that you’ll mostly be fighting enemies with projectiles.
There are dozens of spells in all, allowing for quite a bit of customization to suit your playstyle. These include weapons such as a machine gun, 3-way shot, and the incredibly powerful wall-penetrating boomerang. There are also projectile-negating explosions, continuously damaging orbs, heat-seeking stun swords, spinning melee strikes, and shields. And there are cards that have unique properties, such as reloading your special weapon, causing all uncollected currency to explode, allowing you to draw an entirely new hand, or causing the next card you draw to have zero cost to cast. New cards are gained at a slow pace throughout the game, so you have regular opportunities to reevaluate your strategies.
The world is open and may be freely explored, but per metroidvania conventions, some areas remain inaccessible until new abilities are gained. Spread throughout the world are beacons that act as checkpoints and also allow you to modify your deck of spellcards, and to enter a training area to try out your spells. Getting killed returns you to the last beacon you activated, and these are spread out at a moderate pace, meaning that you may need to repeat a fair amount of gameplay when killed. That said, most areas are designed so that making progress also creates shortcuts through the rooms, allowing you to bypass certain challenges on future attempts, and all collectibles remain in your inventory if you are defeated. Still, death can come quickly since health restoratives are rare, and you are sometimes ambushed by swarms of enemies or minibosses, which trap you in a room until they are defeated.
A metroidvania map shows the general layout of each room, along with indicators for doorways, 1-way doors, quest-driven doors, beacons, shops, and the location of your next mission objective. You eventually open up some warps for fast travel, but these are spread very far apart, and they usually appear on the far edge of each themed area, which can make backtracking quite tedious. Backtracking is sometimes required as a means of progress, but most often you’ll be backtracking in order to reach previously inaccessible areas that can hide spellcards, special coins that are used to unlock new spellcards, and citizens requiring rescue… and there are lots of obscured side rooms as well. So, if you want to build a more robust deck and increase your abilities (rescuing citizens helps you level up), then you’ll want to retrace your steps.
Aiding you in your quest are some undead skeletons, all of whom are bakers… but they are bakers who can also make armor. At the start, they just sell health-restoring cupcakes and armor that can absorb one hit of damage, but as you discover issues of “Armore Magazine”, the Underbaker (yes that’s what he’s called) uses them to create new types of armor. Most of these armor designs still break after a single hit, but then they offer some kind of secondary benefit, such as dropping bombs in the area or granting the player use of a machine gun powerup.
Armor is purchased using green crystals that are dropped by killed enemies, and occasionally found in chests. There are only a handful of uses for currency beyond the bakery-blacksmith shops, and some of these aren’t apparent until later in the game. Rescued citizens are teleported back to the castle where they can continue to offer help, provide side quests, or make remarks about your current circumstances. In the castle, you will find someone willing to make a copy of any spellcard for a fee (which is useful if you have some favorites). Later in the game, you can use currency to upgrade beacons so that they grant you 1-hit armor. And you can also use money to comfort the people… especially when you’ve gone against the advice of your PR manager.
At the end of each mission, you must be debriefed by guy who runs the city – known as Venerable – after which you are asked to address the people. Your PR manager wants you to lie to everyone and tell them that things are going fine and that you’re winning every fight with no problems. This will make everyone feel good, thus increasing their faith in you and increasing your bond, which allows you to level up more quickly. Or, you can decide to tell the truth, with a significantly smaller reward, which you can then offset by spending money. Engaging with the story is an essential part of the experience, since you’re asked questions about what you’ve faced and must decide how to answer (although it’s always clear which answer is the truth and which a lie or an answer to a softball question).
There’s a fair amount of enemy variety, and plenty of powerful enemies are mixed into the regular ones to keep you on your toes. With very few health restoratives to be found, and a fair distance between checkpoints, you’ll need to be tactful in your approach to enemy encounters, as mindlessly firing will often get you killed. Most enemies can fire projectiles, with many firing fast-moving projectiles or large volleys, which pushes combat design more into the conventions of shmups than metroidvanias.
It’s surprising then that miniboss encounters tend to be fairly easy, since these take place in open arenas against a single large enemy, rather than the enclosed spaces and enemy swarms you face throughout the rest of the experience. In open spaces, it’s easier to dodge projectiles and hold your aim on a target. That said, the actual boss encounters are quite difficult by comparison, as these enemies tend to move more quickly, have fast-moving attacks, and can unleash intense bullet sprays. Bosses also have large health bars, so a single weapon spellcard won’t last the entire fight… but bosses also drop mana when hit, allowing you to refuel and continue to unleash powerful magical attacks.
One of the more interesting aspects of combat is the way in which the environment is tied into enemy encounters. For one, there are plenty of objects to hide behind to avoid enemy fire. For another, obstacles like laser beams, cannons, and exploding barrels not only harm you, but they can destroy enemies as well, allowing you to use them strategically to unleash damage from a safe distance. And some enemies can affect one another... For instance, there’s one enemy type that hangs from below platforms and fires missiles, but if you shoot it, it will fall down and explode. If it falls onto another enemy, both will be destroyed in the explosion.
About halfway through the game, you encounter an area filled with water reservoirs, but you can only fly along the surface. Later you trigger a waterfall that raises the water level, forcing you to use a submarine to traverse underwater segments. Unlike other action-adventure games that focus on raising and lowering water levels, the pace here remains fast, and water level toggles generally only affect the room you’re currently occupying.
The submarine is restricted in that it can only fire to the left and right, which forces you to rethink encounters since you could previously fire in any direction, and the tight quarters don’t give you as much room to maneuver. In these areas, you’ll often need to fire your weapon into stationary turrets to set them off, and these turrets are used to damage enemies and break barriers above and below you.
Aesthetically, the game and its soundtrack are gorgeous. Each area has an overall visual theme, but even within a given area there are multiple biomes to explore. Despite the bulk of the game taking place underground, environments are packed with color and little details that give warmth and a lived-in feel to the world. There’s also quite a lot of narrative here, even by action-adventure genre standards, and it’s the primary driver behind the game… with a lot of parallels to real world events, politics, and the environment. The actual missions generally just have you going into each area to repair some broken machine and then return to the hub, but it’s the characters you encounter along the way that fill in the gaps to the greater story and provide insight into what’s actually happening in the world around you… even if the people in charge are reluctant to believe it.
A lot of games center around an average unassuming person who goes on to save the world, but here it’s apparent that the big heroes are the Knight Witches, and you’re just helping out with grunt work while the important stuff happens elsewhere. In the face of real danger, against the wishes of those you’re attempting to help, and compounded by shortsighted bureaucracy, your progress feels especially hard-earned. Don’t skip the story here or you’ll see yourself as little more than a Broken Pipe Witch.

The Knight Witch was developed by Super Awesome Hyper Dimensional Mega Team, or Super Mega Team for short. Kevin Sardà is credited with direction, design, and writing; Javier Albertus, Jorge Fernández, and Julio Ruiz were credited with programming; and Enrique Corts, Mar Hernández, and Jeff Mahadi were credited with art. Music for the game was composed by Damián Sánchez, who previously composed the music for Immortal Redneck, and has provided music, audio, and sound design for numerous other titles. The team previously developed Rise & Shine.

The game was published by Team 17, the studio behind the Worms series. The studio also published Blasphemous and Yoku’s Island Express.