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Played in 2023
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It's me. I'm the Mad-Jack stan.
I don't how to really write a more in-depth review for this game at the moment, but it makes for pretty fun fashion management game either way.
It's a good, chill time-passer with a lot of clothing options from different types of brands available, with some other extra content to add some challenge or just be fun little side events. Also love customizing the player character lol. I'd totally recommend it.
One of em 3 match puzzle games with a visual novel style story where your choices can affect the outcome of the story.
Going over the gameplay first cuz that's not really the main appealing thing about this game (though i'd be damned not to admit that its addicting): the 3 match puzzle game is pretty simple where you try to complete the objective of each level in a set number of turns; with various methods to make it easier (including microtransactions ofc lol) Other noteworthy gameplay things involve needing crystals (or w/e they are) to unlock story progression, and collecting shards to unlock side stories. While I slacked on the story for long periods of time the 3 match puzzles were one of the things I played sometimes a week, it makes for good fun if I'm short on time or not really in the mood for other bigger games.
While the gameplay can be addicting and good short time waster, its definitely designed with the idea in mind to scoop money out of you in some way or another. Which was expected really, I don't imagine how else they were gonna make as much money as they can out of this game. Still, its pretty frustrating: due to the randomness aspect of the levels you can expect to be stuck on them for unnecessarily long periods of time until you just get, lucky. All the while everything involving payment is shoved in your way to capitalize on that frustration, including refilling your lives. It ends up impacting the story as well due to needing crystals to advance which requires beating levels. In a way, I got lucky in that taking a break from the story while still regularly-ish playing the puzzles meant I ended up with a lot of crystals to continue the story without needing to be forcibly paused.
Now with all THAT aside, onto what's the real meat of the game:
The story and characters are the part of Switchcraft where you can feel most of the passion and effort went into. Spanning over 4 Books, its an interactive graphic novel styled mystery story where your relationships and choices can affect the outcomes.
Or, well, I say that, but its a bit hard to tell how much is affected until a replay is done. Major elements such as your relationships with others and even particular story outcomes definitely are highly dependent on what choice you make, but otherwise a lot of its on the minor side or has very short term effects. This isn't really an issue for me though, and could be proven wrong when I do replay of the story; most of the choices at least feel like they have meaning to them, so my input and by extension values don't feel like they go to waste.
I can't say I'm an expert on teen dramas, but the writing of Switchcraft definitely has those vibes. Drama between friends and lovers galore, tension with superiors, having to hide your magic from the normies (that is quite literally what non witches are called), all them cliffhangers. It can get frustrating sometimes, even cringy, but I don't think its a bad thing for the most part. Its an entertaining story that tries to get you invested in its protagonist, characters, the world, and the relationships between everyone. And yeah, I hella got invested. I felt real fuzzy, proud, and almost even teary-eyed when the story ended, with Bailey determined to continue moving forward in life. Despite all the ups and downs, all the weirdness and awkwardness at times, the journey was fun. It was fun to see how Bailey grew as a person, and what the choices I made said about me and if I too perhaps, grew from them. It was fun to see how magical society was integrated into the regular world. It was fun seeing some story beats that were honestly so awesome, lol.
Like, I'm probably sounding emotional right now, but cut me some slack lol. I technically finished this game in 3 years, I was gonna be sentimental in some way.
I'd go more into depth on each book, but its been quite a long time so I'll save that for when I do a replay, then maybe expect this review to be edited. Off the top of my head on what I felt about the major arcs though:
Book 1 and 2 primarily revolved around the mystery of Lydia's disappearance and pendleton's history of witches. It was a compelling mystery with genuine moments of fear the closer I got to the end, and eventually having a pretty bombastic conclusion where you end up saving the town and witch society from a new dark age. It also really made me appreciate the friendship between Bailey and Lydia, with what one was willing to do for the other despite all the dangers and risks. I'm generally kind of iffy on the friendships Bailey has with most of her age peers, but this was one of the ones I liked most and was glad they continued to show in the later two books.
Book 3 and 4 revolve around the murder of Bailey's mother. These are probably where I found myself to have the most frustrations with the story though the "teen drama" writing vibe was less notable as it was in the first two books. From what I most notably could remember having issue with, is that the protag felt a bit too isolated; perhaps that was the intention, but it didn't feel like you stuck with any sort of friends as much as it did feel like a lot of investigating with random partners at times or just completely be forced to do it alone. Idk, i have mixed feelings about that particular aspect. It had a pretty satisfying conclusion to the overall story at least, though I feel like a few things they could have had better resolved or take a slower approach with.
Ending this off with probably the strongest aspects of Switchcraft, the art and diversity. The art is just gorgeous, it's very vibrant and colourful with cool and expressive characters. One of the most exciting things about the game was coming across the various CGs and screenshotting them, mainly cuz I found them really pretty but they'd also be good reference for my own art, haha. And the cast is quite diverse, in terms of ethnicity and lgbtq+ representation. I appreciate it quite a lot, and kept things refreshing. Not everyday you come across a lot of rep in media, but its nice to see that it's becoming better over time, as can be seen with this game.
Overall, yeah, I'd recommend this game for a casual time and if you can handle some tedious gameplay. I really just wanted to write this review to get some of my feelings out (hence why its also quiiiite longer than normal, whoops)
Still thinking about this game even after finishing it ages ago. God.
I'd go more in-depth as usual but its been a while since I played the game so I don't really wanna get any details wrong. But I will say the experience felt quite special. It's one of the few games that's always constantly in the back of my mind, cropping up to the front more often than most other games or even other media I've experienced.
The game isn't without its faults, but combined with its aesthetics and wacky presentations, Planet Laika showed me a story that I still think about from time to time. The many different things it tries to tell, the themes it was trying to convey, the struggles of all the different characters and how they handled them, whether the game handles them excellently or underbaked they'd leave an incredible impact on me.
It's just such a wildly creative yet often intense and unnerving game, I'm finding it difficult to describe why I feel so strongly about it. I just, vibe with it a lot. I totally recommend this game, if at least for a trippy experience, with the hopes for enjoying a really creative, wild, but passionate and often profound game.