Over the past few years, the Dark Witch series has proven itself as a capable collection of 2D action games. Now that we have a rhythm game spin-off for Switch, does the franchise maintain its expected high level of quality?
I've been a massive fan of The Legend of Dark Witch ever since its 3DS debut a few years back. Since then, I absolutely loved the sequel and the dungeon RPG spin-off Brave Dungeon was quite good, too. So, when I saw this rhythm game based on the franchise in the Switch's eShop, I got excited. Visions of working through 2D platforming stages with rhythm elements had my imagination working overtime. After it downloaded, I played it for a bit and thought, "Is this just a collection of boss fights?" Unfortunately, it is but you battle them by hitting coloured balls that they shoot at you. Three buttons correspond to each colour and you have to jump out of harm's way sometimes, too. It's simple stuff but don't be fooled because it gets incredibly challenging as being able to slice through every ball and jump over all of the hazards requires the reflexes of a ninja.
Thankfully, the classic Dark Witch visuals and sound are back in all of their cuteness. You'll battle against many familiar faces while listening to music from the series which is fantastic as the universe of Dark Witch is one of the most charming in all of gaming. Each battle also takes place in a familiar stage. Even though they're only one screen, it's nice to see the detailed environments as you hack and slash your way to victory. Overall, Rudymical's presentation surely isn't lacking and that alone is enough to make fans happy.
Unfortunately, Dark Witch Music Episode: Rudymical is short on content. The main campaign consists of 13 stages that can be completed in about 2 minutes each. Therefore, you could essentially play through the entirety of the campaign in about half an hour. If you're a perfectionist, you can try and beat every stage on four difficulty settings. Doing so while achieving a decent score will grant you a Syega crystal. Gathering these unlocks costumes for the three playable characters (Zizou, Sola, and Rudy).
On top of the brief campaign, you can play either competitively or cooperatively with another player. Doing so forces you to play within tiny areas on either side of the screen and it doesn't really add anything special to playing solo. The only other extra content is the ability to watch each character's ending in the gallery. This is disappointing because other Dark Witch games feature extra mini-games but I didn't come across any here. Perhaps they unlock when you acquire enough Syega but I doubt it.
In addition to the short campaign that merely consists of 13 rhythm-based boss fights, the gameplay itself is far too basic to warrant a full eShop release. In other words, the entirety of Dark Witch Music Episode: Rudymical feels like it could have been a featured mini-game in one of the main games. When you also consider the fact that anything above normal difficulty is insanely frustrating; you're looking at one short-lived experience that fails to appeal to a wide audience unlike the other games in the series.
As a huge fan of all things Dark Witch, Music Episode: Rudymical is a big disappointment. Its simplistic gameplay makes it feel like a half-baked mini-game which is a giant step back from the fully-featured games in the main series.
- + Easy to learn and tough to master
- + Classic charming Dark Witch music, characters, and environments
- - Incredibly short and unvaried campaign
- - Basic gameplay makes it feel more like a mini-game than a full eShop release
- - Difficulty gets insanely frustrating