Polish developer The Astronauts has provided an update on the status of its in-development first-person shooter, Witchfire, promising gamers weekly updates from here on out.
“We’re starting Witchfire Development Updates. Witchfire Diaries. Witchfire Wednesdays. Whatever you want to call it, every Wednesday we will reveal something new about the game, show behind the scenes stuff showing how games are made (so expect a lot of crude assets, basic animations, and other dirty things), or explain the design ideas,” said studio co-founder Adrian Chmielarz in a blog post on the game’s official website.
“For example,” he continued, “we will talk why it took us a day to have a functional gun, but three months to have a great feeling one, and we will show at how we arrived at the final form of a creepy monster after the first sketch that just made us laugh.”
First announced a year ago at The Game Awards 2017, Witchfire is a dark fantasy first-person shooter with an emphasis on technique and mastery. Set in 15th century Europe, players take control of a protagonist described as “the punishing hand of the church,” and embark on witch hunts across the game’s gorgeous photogrammetry-based environments. The Astronauts promises a game filled with dozens of weapons, spellcasting, and fast-paced combat against supernatural foes.
“Witchfire is a first-person shooter focused on challenge and mastery. We’re trying to make sure it’s accessible and there are many roads to the ultimate victory but you’ll still need to prove your witch-hunting skills if you’re after all of its secrets.”
The Astronauts was founded in 2011 by veterans of Painkiller and Bulletstorm development studio, People Can Fly. The studio’s first game, released in September of 2014, was the atmospheric, horror-themed narrative adventure The Vanishing of Ethan Carter. Released to critical acclaim, The Vanishing of Ethan Carter has sold over a million copies since launch.
While Witchfire represents something of a return to the development team’s first-person shooter roots, the game also ditches the heavy emphasis in storytelling featured in The Vanishing of Ethan Carter. As explained by Chmielarz in the same blog post, this is partially by design, but also partially due to the fact that a team of only eight developers simply would not be able to handle the workload required to create a full narrative experience.
“Witchfire is not a story-based game. There’s lore to discover and decipher, but no cutscenes to follow. A project like that – e.g. like Bulletstorm, a game that some of us directed – would be bordering on impossible for a tiny team like ours. More importantly, though, the heart of the game is somewhere else.”
While Witchfire might not be the game fans expected from the studio after The Vanishing of Ethan Carter, the development team clearly has the required pedigree to do justice to a fast-paced supernatural shooter. The Astronauts has so far only announced that Witchfire is in development for PC, though The Vanishing of Ethan Carter did eventually make its way to PlayStation 4. A release date has not been decided, but the team considers 2020 a reasonable target.