It's a Guy Thing

Blair Witch

When the original Blair Witch Project film came out in 1999, it redefined a stagnating horror genre and created a brand-new form of horror, the found footage genre. At the time it was a unique take on the horror genre and created the fear in every audience member that this actually happened. Since then it has been copied in every single way and form and the genre has lost all its appeal. So it was strange when a new Blair Witch game was released 20 years after the original movie. Fortunately, it perfectly captures what made the movie so terrifying and is able to carve out its own unique take on the found footage genre.

The year is 1996 and a young boy has disappeared in the Black Hills forest near Burkittsville, Maryland. As Ellis, a former police officer with a troubled past, you join the search for the missing boy. What starts as an ordinary investigation soon turns into an endless nightmare as you confront your fears and the mysterious force that is the Blair Witch that haunts the forest. Armed with only a flashlight and a walkie talkie, Ellis makes his way into the forest accompanied by his loyal dog Bullet. The developers at Bloober Team, previously famed for Layers of Fear and Observer, has mastered transcending the familiar horror tropes, pursuing an experience driven by player mentality. Blair Witch retains much of Bloober’s underlying identity, blending its genre-defining gameplay with the world of the Blair Witch Project. It’s a masterful fusion of intense psychological horror with the series’ signature found-footage themes giving the game a sleek yet unique movie-to-game transition. 

The true star of the game, however, is the forest itself, constantly changing as the player makes their way through the labyrinth of dense trees, with every scene making you believe that something sinister is watching you from deep within the forest. It allows for some wonderful moments as the player and character start questioning everything. Your trusty companion Bullet growls at anything that moves and is your eyes and ears to any surrounding dangers and the bond you develop with your faithful dog adds to the tension as sometimes Bullet will run off into the forest. That fear of anything happening to him outweighs any monster or creepy noise. It’s a very clever mechanic that adds such an additional terrifying level to an already claustrophobic experience.

Along your trek into the forest, you find a camcorder that not only allows you to see in the dark thanks to its night vision mode, but it also allows you to change the past with red marked tapes you find around the forest. If you come across a locked door you might be able to reverse time to when the door was open. Even though the camcorder mechanic is nothing new to gaming, the time reverse feature does add an interesting twist.

Blair Witch the game is an interesting new take on the found footage formula and carves a unique spot for itself amongst gaming’s horror elite. It’s not perfect however, the graphics might feel a bit dated compared to the current line-up of games and the controls and combat mechanics can be clunky at times. However, this does not detract from the wonderful experiences the game brings and Blair Witch is without a doubt one of the top horror games of 2019.