Spellbound’s witch school invokes teen awkwardness

Stardew Valley is a common point of comparison for the witch school daily life RPG that Chucklefish are making — and not just because Chucklefish also published Stardew — but its relationships will certainly be more challenging. Chucklefish still haven’t formally announced the game tentatively named Spellbound but they are gabbing about it again, this time about how NPCs will have a little more independence and relationships will face more wrinkles and setbacks. For that authentic teen awkwardness experience, you see.

“Where other games are inviting you to live out your perfect fantasy in that you can date whoever you want, you can get married to whoever you want and it’s up to you, Spellbound is a little less forgiving,” Chucklefish CEO Finn Brice told cheery RPS fanzine PC Gamer. “Dates can go wrong, things can go wrong, it’s more about that school experience. You might get a few hard knocks.”

Artist and designer Jay Baylis added that they certainly do want people to feel like awkward teenagers. “I think it’s more fun when suddenly you’re caught off-guard and you thought you were living an idealised life and these characters have their own independence.”

“It’s very young adult literature in a lot of ways,” Baylis continued. “We’re taking that idealised heroism away from you and you’re just another awkward teenager at a school of awkward teenagers.”

Though Price did note that “ultimately you’re not going to have a horrific time, and it’s going to work out in the end—and you’re a wizard right? It can only go so badly!”

Tch! Considering this is magic school, ‘going badly’ should include accidentally turning your crush inside-out, offering your own still-beating heart on a platter along with a box of Milk Tray, and dragging the entire school into a hell dimension. Teen wizards these days…

As for what Spellbound is, yep, it’s another daily daily life sim RPG sort of doodad with a splash of action. And… all a bit mysterious, given that it’s not properly announced and doesn’t even have a name yet. But PCG’s interview gets into influences like Stardew Valley, Harvest Moon, Zelda… if you imagine Stardew Valley at wizard school with disastrous dates, sure, that’s probably not massively far off. Do read the rest.

16 Comments

  1. Premium User Badge

    Harlander says:

    Despite the protests in the article, the style does look quite a bit like Little Witch Acadademia

    • Seafoam says:

      I think it is unwise to compare “magic school” media to other similar media. Even Harry Potter, Little Witch Academia and the book its based on had predecessors in that regard.

      It’s more like a full fledged genre nowadays and should be regarded as such. Like Fantasy or Cyberpunk.

      • Premium User Badge

        Harlander says:

        Yeah, I mean there’s too little revealed of setting, plot and tone to compare it to anything else even if I wanted to.

        But the art style has been shown, and I stand by my comparison of that to LWA.

        • Mokinokaro says:

          They also had 3 characters in a screenshot that were possible homages to the mains of LWA.

          link to cdn.mos.cms.futurecdn.net (on the left)

        • Premium User Badge

          FhnuZoag says:

          I think though that IIRC, aesthetically LWA itself was heavily based on research trips to the UK and ideas about UK girls’ school uniforms, so it makes sense for there to be a convergent evolution in that sense even if it was not directly inspired by it.

      • Tigris says:

        Maybe a setting, but for a genre it is way too specific. It is just fantasy playing in a school.
        And it is quite normal compare stories with the same setting to each other.

  2. TheAngriestHobo says:

    I feel like calling it Spellbound is needlessly confusing. Given that it’s a Chucklefish IP, the name seems to imply a relationship with Starbound. I haven’t heard anything about the two games being set in the same universe, though.

    • Someoldguy says:

      There’s already a VR game called Spellbound on Steam, not to mention a couple of ancient games of the same name, so it’s going to have to change.

      • rustybroomhandle says:

        Not to forget Spellbound, the classic installment in the Magic Knight series, which some will remember playing on ZX Spectrum I wager.

        • kevinlondon says:

          And the song by Siouxsie and the Banshees that gets stuck in my head every time I read the word “Spellbound”…

  3. Ur-Quan says:

    “We’re taking that idealised heroism away from you and you’re just another awkward teenager at a school of awkward teenagers.”

    Uhm…Am I the only one who doesn’t really get the appeal of a game idea like this? Most people I know are glad that they left these awkard teenager days behind them. Why the hell would you want to play a game about this?

    • Premium User Badge

      johannsebastianbach says:

      It’s an emotionally interesting time and as such there are interesting stories to tell about that time and interesting things to feel when re-enacting that time in a game.
      It worked very well in Life Is Strange, for example. I really liked that teenager vibe (which was way more engaging than that time travel stuff in my eyes). I for one look forward to that game.

      • Someoldguy says:

        Absolutely, and I’d welcome any game that involves relationship building that’s more complicated than becoming partners because you picked the 3 correct lines of dialogue, bought the 3 correct gifts based on the information fed to you about his/her likes and dislikes and avoided crass mistakes like publicly dating someone else at the same time. Even better if it actually involves some fluidity so you can’t just look up “how to date witch number 5” on the internet and follow the steps by rote.

    • Premium User Badge

      FhnuZoag says:

      Most people I know are glad that they left these awkard teenager days behind them. Why the hell would you want to play a game about this?

      Generally these games still present an idealised scenario of youth. This offers a fantasy sort of escapism for people whose childhoods were less than ideal. Either through bullying, through not being physically able, through focusing on study over socialising, and so on. That’s a big part of the appeal. The main characters are awkward enough to be relatable, but the edges are smoothed off, there are rules to the experience, consequences are limited, and there is a happy ending.

  4. Rince says:

    Magical Diary meets Little Wicht Academy meets The College of Winterhold meets the Unseen University!!

    Looks promising.
    And hopefully they will be able to flesh out better the NPCs than in your average Harvest Moon/Stardew Valley.
    That will make the romance part more interesting.

    And with the romantic things going wrong, I already can see my little witch falling in love with her straight classmate.

    The bad thing… is gonna be a long wait.