[ Retro Scan of the Week ] Witchaven

October 25th, 2010 by Benj Edwards

Witchaven PC Ad - 1995“The spell is cast this Halloween!” *GASP!!!*

That spooky, spooky holiday is just around the corner, so I figured you guys might enjoy something in theme. I think I’ve played Witchaven once or once before — even if only because it used the Build engine — but I don’t remember it well. What did you guys think of it?

[ From Computer Gaming World, September 1995, p.29 ]

Discussion Topic of the Week: What’s your favorite scary/creepy computer or video game? Any platform, any era.

14 Responses to “[ Retro Scan of the Week ] Witchaven”

  1. tim lindner Says:

    Dungeons of Daggorath always scared me when I was little. I think it was the in-game heart beat.

  2. SamLanfrank Says:

    I go for the first Alien vs Predator (1999)…terrific playing in the Marine character story.

  3. Donn Says:

    If you could get past its general bugginess and hold your mouth right to make it run well, the X-Files game was pretty good. Got my heart pounding a few times!

  4. Geoff V. Says:

    Abuse was an amazingly creepy game. It was like being in an Aliens movie. It’s in the public domain and works in compatibility mode of Windows 7.

  5. Xyzzy Says:

    The game that my brother and I were entranced with as kids was the original “Transylvania”, which we played on our stepfather’s Mac Classic:
    I think that having it be in black-and-white made it a lot creepier than it probably would have been otherwise.

    Aside: I wish there were more screencaps/photos of games running on the original equipment; emulated images are over-exact, so they look a lot blockier & weirdly patterned than what we used to see on the old monitors. (I do plan to try it with my Apple IIgs using a camera, but lack a capture card or other old systems.)

  6. Jason Says:

    I have never heard of this game, but the artwork is amazing! At first I thought it was the work of Boris Vallejo, then I clicked to make the picture larger, and saw that it was the work of Ken Kelly. I had totally forgot about him. He’s another master of fantasy art.

  7. Chris Says:

    Definitely Fatal Frame on the original Xbox. That game has some of the most memorably scary moments in my memory. (shudder)

    After a play session, I would get so scared that I’d turn the lights on and watch Little House on the Prairie or something to get it out of my mind.

  8. Donn Says:

    Thought of another one: Rescue on Fractalus, on the old Atari 800. This was a game where you fly a ship (cockpit view), launched out of a carrier in space, and go down to the planet, flying through these fractal mountains looking for stranded pilots to land and pick up. Sometimes, though, you land, and instead of a friendly explorer, this bug-eyed alien suddenly jumps up on your windshield! The first time this happened, it scared the crap out of me!

    Here’s a great place to see it: http://www.electriceggplant.com/rescue.html

  9. Aaron Says:

    I think I played Witchaven. The graphics on the box look really cool, but in the game things are choppy and poorly animated, and the game is just not engaging. I too it back to Electronics Boutique the next day for a refund.

    The abandoned dwarven mines level in Arx Fatalis was EXTREMELY creepy…. I screamed like a girl when the Black Beast suddenly appeared from behind me and killed me, after I thought I’d locked it outside the door… I think the scripting of that level is a bit messy, heh, but it still scared me. Or maybe the damn thing can just pass through doors when you’re not looking!!


  10. Chris Hunt Says:

    Going way back when, I’d say “Phantom Slayer” on the Dragon 32. Played in the dark with the sound turned up!

  11. Matt Says:

    In ’95 I bought a brand new Packard-Bell at CompUSA…nearly broke the bank at the time. But I couldn’t leave the store without at least one game, so I looked around and Witchaven jumped out at me simply for the fabulous cover illustration. Sadly, I recall the game not living up to the expectations brought on by the cover. However I will say it ran pretty smoothly on that new PB.

    As far as scary games, hands down it’s Clive Barker’s Undying. I’ve played a fair amount of horror-themed games simply because I dig creepy stuff. And no game has given me the creeps like Undying (including Doom 3, whose maps were dark and closed in simply for the shock effect).

    It’s a bit of a travesty that the game never received the accolades I thought it deserved. I dare you to seek out a copy of this game and play it with the lights out. Even with its 2001-era graphics, I think the unsettling atmosphere will hold up.

  12. Calibrator Says:

    Witchhaven is quite shoddy and didn’t age well, too. They also tried to cash in on William Shatner’s TekWar series:
    It’s even worse.

    While I played some horror or survival horror games most of them were simply frantic or gross or both. Some, like the first FEAR game have a special atmosphere that should be horrific but really is manageable quite well.
    However, the *only* game that ever gave me a “nearly heart attack” was the “Shalebridge Cradle” mission in “Thief: Deadly Shadows”!
    While the rest of the game is mostly competent (but not nearly as innovative as the first two Thief games at their time) the Cradle mission is worth playing the whole game for.

  13. Matt Says:

    I’m working through Eternal Darkness on the Gamecube right now, and it is everything I always wished Alone in the Dark had been. I also thought Doom3 was pretty creepy.

  14. Cody Says:

    I was playing Dragon Age: Origins last year and felt pretty scared whenever I ventured into the tunnels under the Dwarven city :-S

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