If you’ve been wondering about The Astronauts’ best-kept secret of the decade, then join the club, as we’ve also been curious to learn more about the dark fantasy FPS game known only as Witchfire. As it turns out, though, its creators haven’t been overly cooperative since it was first announced back in 2017. In fact, the studio has even gone as far as to say “it’s a dark fantasy first person shooter…and that’s kind of all we can say at the moment,” on its official landing page, which again hasn’t exactly given us much of a boost in confidence.
So, what do we actually know about Witchfire so far? Well, The Astronauts certainly hasn’t made it easy, what with most of the game’s details being kept on a tight leash. And yet, we’ve been able to scrape together just enough to compile an easy-to-digest list. Therefore, if you wish to know more about the mystery IP, then be sure to read on.
What Is Witchfire?
Witchfire is an upcoming first-person shooter by The Astronauts, an independent studio that found its start with 2014’s award-winning mystery title, The Vanishing of Ethan Carter. Judging from its featured art, in-game screenshots, and sneak preview footage, Witchfire will be a medieval-based first-person shooter in which post-apocalyptic elements are sewn into the fibres.
According to the blurb, the dark fantasy FPS will look to incorporate a combat system similar to the likes of Elden Ring and BioShock. The game will also center its narrative around the “War Against Witches” age, which will no doubt play into the
Granted, details surrounding Witchfire—its story, in particular—are incredibly scarce, and in no way shape, or form, fleshed out with all the bells and whistles you’d expect to see this late in development. That said, we do know that the upcoming medieval RPG will be based around the “War Against Witches” period, and will also feature an unnamed protagonist who must travel to the Black Sea and search for an ancient artefact. As for what powers this specific artefact will hold isn’t clear, but given the game’s pagan roots, it will no doubt come lathered in dark and mystical magic. That’s about all we know, though.
Witchfire will play into the high-octane bullet-riddled style of FPS subsidiary, and will feature combat that is highly reminiscent of games like Bulletstorm and Painkiller. It hasn’t been said whether or not the game will be open-world, but its roguelite elements will no doubt give players more than enough to chew on, regardless of map or level size.
And there will be pagan magic, too. Again, this will come enveloped in the same style as the elemental magic used in Bioshock. So there’s also that to look forward to. But in short, it’s “a roguelite for people who hate roguelites,” the developer says. “The game offers a challenging but satisfying gameplay experience, and with multiple roads to victory.”
It’s no secret that The Astronauts has had something of a tough time trying to find a foothold in the market since developing the BAFTA-winning mystery game, The Vanishing of Ethan Carter. Although now confirmed to be a dark fantasy FPS, Witchfire was, in fact, first coined as a sci-fi survival simulator, believe it or not.
“We have reached for other genres, too,” The Astronauts adds. “Katharsis was a 2D arcade shooter, Reflux was an RTS, and Gorky 17 was a strategy RPG. One of the reasons we called the studio The Astronauts was to emphasize the journey to new places. After we made an innovative – we think – narrative game, now we want to make a shooter unlike anything we’ve done before.”
The good news is, in spite of The Astronauts’ inability to find the spotlight these past five years, the studio has, in fact, managed to produce two sneak previews of Witchfire, the latest being shown at the Summer Games Fest 2022. You can catch a glimpse of the dark fantasy FPS looking shinier than ever in the embed above.
“As you can see in the teaser, Witchfire uses the photogrammetry tech we previously used in The Vanishing of Ethan Carter,” The Astronauts website claims. “This tech allows us to 3D scan real-life objects – even entire buildings! – and use them as digital assets in our games for unparalleled visual quality, and natural, organic look and feel. We believe we can push the tech even further, with new tools, hardware, and all the experience we gathered during the development of our first game.”
Release Date, Platforms & Editions
Witchfire will be releasing in early access on PC via the Epic Games Store in “early” 2023. According to The Astronauts, Epic Games will retain the rights to host the game exclusively for at least one year, after which it will be coming to Steam, and perhaps even consoles thereafter. It hasn’t been confirmed whether or not it will be coming to Xbox One or PlayStation 4 just yet, though it seems current gen consoles will be prioritized over all else at this moment in time.
At this point, there hasn’t been any word on Witchfire coming preloaded with any special or collector’s editions. It will, of course, still have its standard versions on the Epic Games Store, Microsoft Store, and PlayStation Store, but that’s about it. If you’re planning on pre-ordering it on PC, then you can add it to your Wishlist right here.
Another question that’s been popping up lately is will it be coming to Xbox Game Pass? And the answer to this, unfortunately, is no. That said, as The Astronauts’ The Vanishing of Ethan Carter is no stranger to subscription platforms, the likelihood of it coming to either Game Pass or PlayStation Plus in the future is definitely high.
For more information on the Witchfire launch, be sure to follow the official social handle here. If anything interesting pops up in the meantime, we’ll be sure to let you know all the juicy details right here on gaming.net.
So, what’s your take? Will you be picking up a copy of Witchfire when it drops later this year? Let us know over on our socials here or down in the comments below.