The Astronauts has moved to allay fears that its fantasy shooter Witchfire is a copy of the old-school arcade shooter formula, simultaneously downplaying similarities to the classic Painkiller series.
In most arcade-styled run-and-gun shooters, the player consistently moves forward while delivering damage. Witchfire contrasts against this norm by requiring defensiveness and a reduced emphasis on backpedalling and circle-strafing.
The Astronauts is comprised of staff who previously worked on the likes of Bulletstorm and Painkiller, both of which were fast-paced first-person shooters. The developer’s blog post highlights how the gameplay loop of Painkiller, in particular, is limited.
Players will have a larger number of tools for killing in Witchfire than in the average game of its ilk. Spells, melee weapons, short- and long-range firearms, and passive abilities will all be available to players.
Players will have access to a multitude of weapons that have random properties to build synergies with. The loot is intended to amplify the skill of the user, rather than giving the ability to walk through the game. In keeping with that, the damage numbers that appear help the player customize their strategies to deal the highest possible damage.
Furthermore, the team suggests that Witchfire will not be a linear game, saying that its structure and endgame is “very, very different” from Painkiller. However, what that may entail has yet to be announced.
One aspect of the game that is confirmed is a lack of focus on cutscenes and direct storytelling. Instead, The Astronauts is creating a world where players can immerse themselves in the environment and lore that surrounds them.
While the damage numbers that appear above enemies may break that immersion, the developer is considering providing customizable user interfaces.