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Letters from the Front

Blair Witch is one of the most influential films of the 20th century, it popularized the “found footage” style of horror and shook audiences to their very core. Blair Witch’s influence can be felt today with some horror films, and game developer Blooper Team created a game that is very worthy of the name. The end result of their development is a game that is very chilling and gripping despite some few hitches in this almost perfect train ride.

Blair Witch is set in 1996 within the Black Hills Forest close to Burkittsville, Maryland. A boy has gone missing inside the woods and it’s up to the community to find him, you play as Ellis, a war veteran and a former police officer who joins the hunt with his dog, Bullet, a loyal animal who will come to be useful during the hunt. As Ellis combs through the woods, he quickly realizes that there’s something at work here, something more sinister than just a boy who is missing.

The premise for Blair Witch is great as it deviates from the usual trope or the most basic of premises that most horror games and films suffer from. Ellis is a massive asshole but you come to try and accept him as the game tells you who he is. He isn’t a good man at all, he’s a man haunted by war and haunted by his experiences as a police officer which comes in the way of a lot of things but you try to understand him. By the end of the experience, he grew on me and I really liked him and I really came to have a bond with his dog, Bullet, as well since I relied on both characters.

The core experience of Blair Witch is very similar to Outlast and the game shares a lot of similarities with Outlast and Alone in the Dark and Alan Wake, the game shares a lot of similarities with Alan Wake. The core experience is requiring you to work with Bullet to track the missing boy and finding items that he can track, paying attention to what he barks at, and where he’s looking at are skills you need to master.

Another thing you can and have to master is staying close to the dog at all times. Not only is he useful but his presence help keeps Ellis’ flashbacks at bay and keeps him calm. One of the side effects is that Ellis doesn’t like to be alone so Bullet is a comforting friend and often times, the game will separate you from him for story purposes and you have to quickly find him before Ellis spirals out of control and these are the most tense moments within the game. Another big part of Blair Witch is puzzles; you have to solve puzzles by using the camcorder. Among the items that Bullet can find is taped videos which you can use to solve puzzles to bend reality. Pausing a video right in time can bend reality and change the environment around you.

When you aren’t solving puzzles, you’re exploring the woods with Bullet which is a negative. Sometimes you get lost and you have no idea where to go until you accidentally stumble into the correct area, I assume this is too increase the immersion factor as you’re in the woods and you could get lost but it’s just frustrating.

The immersion and atmosphere of Blair Witch is unreal. The unsettling forest is brought to life due to the game’s perfect visuals and the amount of details that are only possible on either the Xbox One X or the PC. The woods are blanketed by fog and the washed out colors make everything look more monotone and old fashioned which is great. Sound is also great and is very immersive, especially paired with a great headset like the 800XL RIG from Platonics, once you hear your own footsteps rustling the leaves and faint animal cries, you’ll get creeped.

In the end, Blair Witch is a solid game and one you should definitely try out, especially now in the month of October. While it may not be groundbreaking or revolutionary, it is a pretty solid horror game and one of the year’s best games. Give it a shot.

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