Basing a game off of a cult classic movie from the late ’90s is a risky business. On one side of the equation, you could end up with something that works pretty well into the established story. The flip side of that could leave you with something that is utterly terrible and reminiscent of a poorly made Slender fan game.

Blair Witch wowed audiences when it was announced earlier this year at E3.  Now that it has released and I finally acquired a copy of it, it is time to delve in. Let’s see if Blair Witch is a worthy horror game, or if players are right to be apprehensive.

Once Upon a Midnight Dreary

Blair Witch starts off quite similar to most horror games. Ellis, the player character, arrives at the entrance to the fabled forest of Black Hills. The pretenses of him showing up with the lovable pup Bullet are that they are joining the search for a missing 9-year-old boy.

As he progresses he starts finding more and more clues towards the boy’s possible the tone of the game shifts. Soon he is at a camp sight where he comes across a camera. This video camera heavily relates to the plot of the game as a bunch of mechanics rely on it.

There is a mode that allows the player to open or close doors, fix or destroy rooms, all sorts of things from that nature just by rewinding or in some cases allowing the tape to play. Another mode that gets used a lot more towards the end is the night vision mode. In this mode, players can see monsters and pathways to follow that are otherwise hidden to them. It’s a fascinating mechanic that is a huge plus for the game.

As I Spit This Weak and Weary

Weak and weary may not be the best way to describe what qualifies as scares in Blair Witch. Blair Witch is way closer to a psychological experience as opposed to a traditional horror game. There were a few attempts at jump scares but they were pretty obvious and didn’t quite deliver that satisfying punch that quality scares can bring.

The scare involved a legitimately scary monster that had long arms and twitched uncomfortably when you looked at it from a distance. It bursts through a window during a segment of the game that dragged on way too long. One of the last parts of the game takes place in a looping house as you work through it endlessly to reach the basement. It takes way too damned long and it requires you to get past that monster so many times that the monster stops being scary.

Blair Witch does have it’s creepy parts. Traversing the environment in pitch black darkness with a weak flashlight kept the environment itself feeling scary but everything else just didn’t seem to keep that same level. At one point the game tries to get you to be afraid of leaves, that isn’t a joke. Angry spinning leaf clusters will kill the player if they go into a certain field. It sends the player on a long quest to find a mining cart to ride past them.

During that sequence, I was finally clued in on something that may have been obvious to some other players. I had no idea that Ellis was a war vet. That never felt apparent to me. I spent the whole game thinking the reason he was trapped in these woods in a Silent Hill manner of speaking was that he blamed himself for a kid’s death during one of his calls as a police officer.

He killed a kid who wasn’t armed and I spent the whole game thinking that was the major cause for his depression and his issues with his wife. The whole war thing seemed secondary and like it was Ellis living through someone else’s memories. When he was getting shelled by invisible bullets and incoming artillery it never felt apparent that he went through that.

It wasn’t until close to the end that it even became apparent. Both because I found a psych note about Ellis leaving for the military and he had a flashback to telling a commanding officer it was his fault for the ambush. Up until that point I was randomly being shelled by angry foliage and finding dog tags that made no sense to what was happening.

Tense is Not Scary

While I talked about how the scares were weak above, the tense atmosphere was absolutely palpable. At one point it was totally understandable to think someone was messing with me outside of the game. The player was tasked with gathering parts from around a maintenance cabin.

As the area was being explored the sounds of rocks bouncing off the ground can be heard. It actually sounded like someone was throwing rocks at me. I almost got up to check my back yard from my window to make sure it was actually in the game.

The forest itself feels like an actual character in the game. It starts off as a standard forest that a guy and his dog wander into and occasionally pick up trash by the end it is this dense fog filled nightmare. There are a few sections that actually felt like they were looping. I would try to walk down a path I felt I knew to lead somewhere else and I would wind up right back where I started. Often times at the camp, whether that was true or I just simply got lost both possibilities add to the game and its heavy atmosphere.

There were several parts that were so tense it was almost enough to outweigh when the game dragged its feet. Case in point there is a moment late into the game where Ellis is heading to meet this mysterious man that has something to do with the deaths and disappearances.

He set a path for the player to follow in the darkness. Managing seeing that, keeping Bullet close and avoiding the monsters are some of the tenses and arguably the scariest part to the game.

Man’s Best Friend

Does the dog in Blair Witch really deserve its’ own section? I should hit you with a chair for even asking. The player will need to use Bullet to find clues, retrieve needed items and in turn Bullet will warn the player of nearby enemies and can guide you if the player wanders off course.

How you treat the dog supposedly has an impact on the game. I pet the dog every single chance I got. I gave him treats twice and I still think I somehow got the bad ending when it came to him. It was still apparent that Ellis loved Bullet and vice versa by the end of my playthrough but Bullet ran away at the end of the game.

Digging through the achievements I apparently didn’t see his full ending, which I thought was rather odd because I spent a long time carrying him through the woods when he was injured, making sure monsters didn’t eat him, what more the game wanted from me I could not tell you.

I’m Blue

The missing Bullet sequence along with several other discoveries in the achievement list leads me to think the developer intends for people to do at least a second run of the game. However, I don’t think I could bring myself to do the whole thing over again purely because of two sequences that seem to take about half an hour longer than they should have.

By the time I finished the house sequence I no longer cared about any character outside of Bullet. I didn’t care if we found Peter, I didn’t care about Ellis and his ex. I just wanted my dog back and to be out of the woods.

Digging through the achievements showed that there was something to do with a pizza guy that I never even saw and as well as finding out what happened to Peter. The latter I never even seemed to see outside of the tapes the player finds, so how was I supposed to have done things any different to see those endings? The way the story played out seemed concrete albeit a little haphazard. Retrospectively speaking the only logical ways I could have seen anything different was, I assume, to find all the totems or more tapes somehow.

The Verdict

Blair Witch started off strong and gradually lost its’ footing. Given all of the above, I wasn’t disengaged totally until the end. I liked Blair Witch even though I never particularly felt it reached its’ full potential of horror. It was interesting enough to keep me wanting to see the end until the aggressively elongated house segment and the part where I carried my dog through a crevice as he whined from pain and it looped. Over. And Over. And Over. It was at that point that I kind of wished I would be shot by a hunter in the woods, or maybe Bullet would go feral and decide my eyes looked like a nice chew toy.

Blair Witch Review
The Good
  • Bullet is a Great Companion
  • Strong Set Up
  • Fantastic Camera Mechanic
The Bad
  • Dragged on Way Too Long
  • Poor Attempt at Multiple Endings
  • Angry Foliage
6Overall Score
Reader Rating: (0 Votes)
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About The Author

Allen S
Editorial/Reviews Team, Manager

I started gaming when I was seven years old. I started my own game studio when I was twelve, went to school for game design. Now I work here and also on my own YouTube channel