Witchmarsh looks like a hoot, and I do not use that word lightly as I am not an owl. The jazz-infused occult 1920s RPG is currently on Kickstarter, and it looks totally gorgeous. On top of that, it cites two role-playing legends, Baldur’s Gate and Wizardry, as its primary influences. However, I keep seeing the same question pop up in regards to said influences: “…How?” Witchmarsh is, after all, a side-scrolling co-op (if you want) action-RPG. Baldur’s Gate and Wizardry were… not that. I got in touch with Witchmarsh’s creators to find out what exactly it has in common with those two games, and here’s what they told me.
Developer Inglenook was adamant that they don’t want to throw around those names lightly. So first up, here’s how Witchmarsh is like Baldur’s Gate:
“As with Baldur’s Gate, there will be branching dialogue, factions to side with, and unique in-game events depending on how you’ve constructed your party. If you walk into a certain area with an Innkeeper for example, something may trigger relating to her storyline.”
“Witchmarsh will feature a party camping system, day/night rotation, and plenty of hidden areas and dungeons to explore. We understand the feeling and lengths of the two games will be completely different, but cRPGs are at the heart of our design choices. We’re also a small team, so we can’t produce a 100+ hour long quest. I’ve been playing Baldur’s Gate for 10 years and I’ve still not seen everything there is to see in that game!”
Rivulets of Wizardry, meanwhile, course all throughout Witchmarsh’s DNA, both conceptually and systemically:
“Like in Wizardry, you’ll create your own team using a combination of Character types, Skill Points, Abilities (Spell Points in Wizardry I believe) and Attributes (Stats). Then you’ll lead them into the game world, doing battle, talking to NPCs and further configuring them as you level up. The secret item system will also function a little bit like Wizardry 8’s, with stat rolls being used to discover hidden loot.”
“For the ‘Spellbook’ in Witchmarsh we’ve drawn heavily from Wizardry’s system of stat checks (if Character has 8 in Fire, and 10 Spirit = Learn X spell) and the thematic feel of Baldur’s Gate-style of wizard/priest spellbooks. This is just part of our plan for a huge character sandbox where players can create almost anything to match their playstyle. I’ve seen a lot of modern RPGs which feel far too limiting in this respect.”
So Witchmarsh might look nothing like either of those games, but Inglenook is aspiring to the same sort of complexity, depth, and character development. And that’s fantastic, assuming it can follow through. Of course, that won’t be the easiest thing to do in a side-scrolling action-RPG, but I’m definitely rooting for them. Hooting for them too. Spoiler alert: turns out I actually was an owl all along.