Witchfire is as pretty as The Vanishing of Ethan Carter and as violent as Painkiller


The Vanishing of Ethan Carter is a beautiful, quiet game — a thoughtful and sedate walking simulator. Bulletstorm and Painkiller are not. They’re both balls-to-the-wall action and dripping with over-the-top machismo and violence. On the surface, the only similarity is the people who made them. Witchfire, The Astronaut’s latest project, looks a lot like the former at first. But there’s more to it than meets the eye. Devour the teaser below.

That is how you do a snappy, surprising trailer.

Unfortunately, the developers are still keeping things close to their chest, but a brief post accompanies the trailer, explaining the dramatic shift in direction. Essentially they really wanted to make another shooter. A blisteringly fast one, by the looks of things. But one that’s also elevated by some of the tricks used in The Vanishing of Ethan Carter, particularly the photogrammetry technique that gave the walking sim its incredible forests and ruins.

“Also, as you can see in the teaser, Witchfire uses the photogrammetry tech we previously used in The Vanishing of Ethan Carter,” creative director Adrian Chmielarz explains. “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.”

It’s a fascinating process, and you can read a bit more about it here.

Witchfire has been confirmed as coming to PC, but is still in the early stages of development and The Astronauts aren’t ready to slap a release date on it yet.


  1. noiseferatu says:

    This looks so good but I’m not so super on Adrian Chmielarz’s history of being a gamergate apologist.

    • Fraser Brown says:

      Really excited about this, but yeah, that was a problem for me too.

    • Synesthesia says:

      yup, fuck this guy. Plenty of other stuff to support.

      • KenTWOu says:

        You’re as bad as people boycotting Campo Santo’s The Valley of the Gods because of that DMCA strike against PewDiePie.

        • Ashabel says:

          No he’s not. There is a huge difference between boycotting a company because they stood up against a bigot who actively employed bigotry to make more money by catering to other bigots, and straight-up boycotting a well-known bigot.

          • KenTWOu says:

            First of all, yes, he is.
            Second, you’re implying that in this Gamergate vs the PC crowd (for lack of a better term) conflict only one of the sides is full of bigotry… I’ve seen many examples of the opposite, so I don’t buy it.
            Third, I don’t know if Adrian Chmielarz is a gamergate apologist or not, if he is a well-known bigot or not, but he likes the same games I like (Her Story, SOMA, What Remains of Edith Finch), judging by this incredible Her Story analysis, he’s a really smart guy, and The Vanishing of Ethan Carter was kinda cool.

            So I will make myself clear, judge the game, not the author.

          • literarylottie says:

            “Second, you’re implying that in this Gamergate vs the PC crowd (for lack of a better term) conflict only one of the sides is full of bigotry… I’ve seen many examples of the opposite, so I don’t buy it.”

            So, you think there is blame on both sides, but also people that were very fine people on both sides?

            Okay, then.

          • Ashabel says:

            Yes, because “the PC crowd” threatened universities with shootings and bombings in order to attempt Gamergate lecturers from conducting lectures, harassed multiple companies into firing women who worked for them, as well as doxxed people and drove them out of their homes out of fear for their safety.

            Oh wait.

            Congratulations, you just attempted to defend an organized effort to terrorized women out of the video game development industry. Thank you for making it so very easy to decide whether to block you or not.

          • KenTWOu says:

            Congratulations, you just attempted to defend an organized effort to terrorized women out of the video game development industry. Thank you for making it so very easy to decide whether to block you or not.

            Well, thank you, Ashabel, for putting words in my mouth and blocking me based off them, giving a very clear example of what I was talking about, therefore, proving my point.

      • Ghostwise says:

        Yeah. With the idiotic amount of superb games we got in 2017, it’s not like skipping games made by gamergate arseholes is difficult.

    • Crafter says:

      I have very conflicted thoughts about this kind of comment.

      On one hand, I entirely agree that Gamer’s Gate has very quickly become something completely monstrous and I don’t think a lot of sane people want to be associated with it.

      On the other, while I think that video games very obviously have deep toxic masculinity and misogyny issues (as a medium, of course some games are totally exempt of this), I don’t necessarily agree with everything that Anita Sarkeesian writes.

      For some people (I am not saying that it is your case), it is enough of a blasphemous thought to be labeled as a GG.

      And I don’t relish the thought of having to dig through this guy’s tweets and posts in order to decide whether he is an asshole or not.

      • Jakkar says:

        I *did* dig through some of his history last night, and what I found was a provocative bastard, and one who should have more openly acknowledged the vileness associated with the term Gamergate…

        … but not actually someone with obviously apparent noxious views of his own. He just doesn’t like extreme attitudes that he fears would censor game content. One of his biggest complaints seemed to be based upon his absolute adoration for The Witcher 3, in defending it against Sarkeesian’s claims that it was emotionally infantile, racist and sexist.

        On that, I’m entirely with him.

        Other than that, he was mostly fanning flames by being very stubborn in ways that aren’t technically *wrong*, but that do more to sustain a fight than to promote communication and understanding.

        And he should have called out the misogynistic trolls.

        • Crafter says:

          I saw the same article !

          I have not yet played The Witcher 3 so I have only skimmed the first couple of paragraphs in order to avoid spoilers .. but I agree : what I read was written in a bit of an inflammatory style but there was nothing unreasonable IMO.

          • hfm says:

            What are you doing here commenting you have important work to do. DAMN.

      • April March says:

        I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone who agrees with everything Sarkeesian writes. The only reason you don’t see a lot of long, thoughtful posts countering her arguments is that it would be drowned by a bunch of people speweing diarrhea out of their mouths, so why bother?

        • Crafter says:

          >t would be drowned by a bunch of people speweing diarrhea out of their mouths, so why bother?

          Yup. It really saddens me but it seems pretty hard to have a balanced debate on this. And for all this flame war, it does not even feel like it makes any impact on the industry :/ .

          It all leaves a very sour taste.

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          Ninja Dodo says:

          Myeah it would be nice if it were possible to have a reasonable debate about Sarkeesian’s points. I think for the most part they were worthwhile contributions to the larger discussion of games but some of her arguments are stronger than others and she tends to project intent onto developers in a way that can be pretty shaky.

          It also would have been good if people who disagreed with her didn’t immediately run off to join the raging trash fire that was GG.

      • Amake says:

        I don’t agree with everything Sarkeesian writes, but on the other hand that doesn’t actually have any relation to the utter inexcusability of the harassment campaign that drove her and several other women out of their homes and their livelihood and opened the door for the culture of shameless and relentless lying that eventually gave us president Trump and I can’t guess why you’d bring it up.

    • Smaug says:

      Am I the only one that does not care about stupid twitter drama?

      • Psychomorph says:

        I had to search-engine “gamersgate” first.

        So… I think it’s a no you not.

    • RichUncleSkeleton says:

      I hope I’m not ruining video games for you by saying this, but any development team larger than about 5 people is probably going to contain someone who has beliefs you find offensive or wrong.

      • RaymondQSmuckles says:

        Yeah, that’s true but I personally see a big difference between, “one of the lower staff who models character weapons is a GamerGate apologist and “the co-owner/creative director is a GamerGate apologist”. One of those guys will directly profit from a purchase and the other (likely) won’t.

        • RichUncleSkeleton says:

          Bonuses and other compensation are often awarded based on sales figures. So, yes, you’re still putting money in Mr. Character Weapons Modeler’s pocket. Just not as much as Mr. Co-Owner and Creative Director gets.

      • Caiman says:

        Indeed. Can you imagine it, in the future when we’re all wearing heads-up displays, each person we meet will flash up a “morality rating” depending on how similar their beliefs and actions are to yours. You get on the bus, and look at the driver. “Kicked a puppy when he was 12” flashes up in red. Damn, not giving this idiot any money, and you get off the bus again. You accidentally bump into an old lady, knocking the change out of her hands. You’re just about to reach down and help her, but “Smacked her kids twice when she was 23” flashes up. Fuck that, you think, and move on. You’re just about to cross the road and stop for a car. Suddenly it mounts the kerb and smashes into you. Your world spins and you land face-down on hard concrete, the warm dampness of blood pooling beneath you. You hear someone screaming. “You hit him!” “You’re crazy!” And then you hear “That’s OK, he liked a post by Donald Trump back in 2015. The world’s better off without him”. And they leave you there in the dirt.

        Yeah, sometimes ignorance is bliss.

        • literarylottie says:

          Ignorance is bliss until you’re complicit in your own oppression. And there’s a huge difference between refusing to help an individual because they hold different views than you, and making a non-essential purchase that puts money in the pocket of someone who supported a toxic movement that hacked, harassed, and made threats against female gamers and game devs.

          By all means, give this guy your money if it doesn’t bother you – no one’s saying *you* can’t buy this game. But dismissing a legitimate grievance with “everybody’s compromised, so why bother holding anyone accountable” is some willingly obtuse bullshit.

    • RaymondQSmuckles says:

      Awww… that sucks. I was pretty psyched for this game. Gonna have to weigh the pros and cons of giving that guy any cash. I guess this is how things are now (though one could argue it is how things should have always been). How much do we intertwine the artist and the art? It’s a tough call sometimes…

    • Rond says:

      So you care about politics more than you do about games.

      • Amake says:

        As someone who needs to care about politics to have any chance of keeping them from killing me and my friends, I must ask if you mean to sound so condescending about the idea of someone caring more about their life than about your toys.

      • Vasily R says:

        I think you should care about politics more than games. Politics is extremely important due to how much it can affect your life and the lives of others, while games are just a form of entertainment. With that being said, I do find it odd that people won’t purchase a game they think they’d like, just because of the views of one of the creators.

        • Gurrlin says:

          Why do you find it odd? It seems perfectly reasonable to me that people would think twice about giving money to someone who’s morals goes against their own. I think it’s more about how strongly the individual value those morals.

  2. digital_sneeze says:

    Has been a great day for announcements and trailers. New From Soft stuff, pretty Metro footage, surprisingly captivating Death Stranding trailer and then this, which has to be good, if not breathtakingly pretty. Vanishing of Ethan Carter was quite good for a walking sim and Bulletstorm was a lot of fun so high hopes for this.

  3. Flopdong says:

    Painkiller is still one of my favorite FPS games of all time. Very few games have matched its sense of speed and ferocity. Its been out for like 13 years, but I still come back to it at least once a year

  4. DantronLesotho says:

    Super conflicted about this again because of the aforementioned GG defense. But I do think the game looks right up my alley.

  5. Vandelay says:

    That was almost a bit of Mark Strong’s But Game going on there.

    Looks great. Think we could do with a new no nonsense shooter and this seems to be a very pretty one.

    I don’t know what the connection is with one of the developers and GG others are mentioning is, but I generally take the approach that if I were to shun all creative works from creators that didn’t share my political/social beliefs then I would be avoiding almost everything. I wouldn’t give money to anything if they announced that a percentage would be going towards funding some right wing or backwards thinking organisation, but one of the many creators stating something on twitter is not going to stop me too much.

    • Jalan says:

      I follow a similar approach. Only in very rare occasions will I ever find myself at the point where I say “No – I don’t like the person(s) involved, they aren’t getting my money regardless of how entertaining the content is that they’ve delivered”. That will never play out in regard to someone suddenly discovering that, shockingly, other people have beliefs or opinions that run opposite to their own and then blowing a large horn in an effort to try and bring a condemnation mob down upon them.

  6. Biggus_Dikkus says:

    I hope this one won`t flop

  7. April March says:

    I agree with Fraser – that trailer is brill.

  8. RichUncleSkeleton says:

    This looks more like FPS Dark Souls than Painkiller or Bulletstorm. Melee enemies telegraphing attacks with big wind-up animations and an emphasis on dodging. I think that’s a more compelling direction than Doom-lite twitch shooter (looking at you, Wolfenstein II).

  9. Zaxwerks says:

    Oh dear have we gone back to developers smacking us in the face with a screen full of brown again? It’s pretty brown I’ll give you that, but it’s still a lot of brown.

    • RichUncleSkeleton says:

      Don’t worry, I’m sure someone will make a SweetFX or ENB preset for it that cranks up the contrast and saturation levels until it has the color palette of a bag of skittles.

    • Rao Dao Zao says:

      Real life is brown, after all!

      (Also didn’t some of the Bulletstorm marketing lampoon some famous contemporary shooters for being brown? D’oh.)

    • Nouser says:

      It also has green and orange. They give you three full colors and you still ask for more?

  10. Slice says:

    Can we have the next Elder Scrolls game in a world made with photogrammetry? Pretty please?

    • grimdanfango says:

      Photogrammetry requires exhaustive care and precision to not make a complete mess of. I don’t think Bethesda have it in them, they still haven’t managed to write a functioning game engine that doesn’t require community fixes.

  11. IEatCereal says:

    Yes but why so much head bob? Why add something that’s not fun, interesting or realistic to the game? This is like adding chromatic aberration, pointless DOF that visually restricts what you can actually look at, that horrible piss filter etc to your game. Just why?

  12. Foolish Wizard says:

    Okay, here’s the kicker, people. Chmielarz? Very, very left-wing.
    I think his biggest failing is apologizing for GamerGate without noticing what kind of audience it brings him and what kinds of people agree with him.
    But in general, judging by his opinions on politics in Poland (whoo boy!) and then some ideological issues like gender equality (he’s definitely a proponent of that!), immigration and so on – he’s a pretty stand up dude.

    • The_Hunter says:

      Exactly. These people are zealots.

      How anyone could spend a minute researching this guy and then completely write off his art because he didn’t immediately jump on a political bandwagon is insane.

  13. Ham Solo says:

    We need a new Painkiller in an unusual setting. Looking forward to this one.