Similar to Ib, The Witch’s House is a freeware horror game with puzzle elements by a Japanese creator, who goes by the username Fummy. Unlike Ib, The Witch’s House is much more of a horror and puzzle game than adventure, featuring countless traps and tricks by which the house itself will foil your plans, brutally killing your sweet-looking player character given the wrong turn and packing plenty of jumpscares and quicktime events to scare the faint of heart, until you just die, die again. I mean try. But you’ll die plenty too.
Originally released on October 3rd, 2012, The Witch’s House stars Viola, a young girl with blonde hair, who wakes up in the middle of a forest where the main exit is blocked by a huge growth of roses. With no other avenue of escape, you’re forced to enter the mysterious house nearby (the titular Witch’s House) to find some way of dealing with the roses. The house itself holds many dangerous traps and monsters, with walls that move and doors that lock behind you, all of which can lead to a gruesome end for Viola. The game does not shy away from these deaths, despite the pixelated artstyle, and the house will regularly have pools of blood and bloody handprints following your progress through the puzzles. The puzzles are challenging, often punishing players for making mistakes with a swift death. However, with frequent save points and reloading, players can get back on their feet for their next attempt in no time at all.
As with many RPG Maker games from this era, The Witch’s House has a number of different available endings depending on the player’s actions through the game. The two easiest endings to reach are achieved by playing the game normally and either escaping the house immediately in the end sequence or making a detour to grab one final item before you escape. Early on in the house, there is a cabinet that will only open when the house is back to “normal,” and the item found inside is called Ellen’s Knife. While the two endings are not significantly different from one another, it is worth the effort of trying to get the Knife, as this ending reveals a little more of the underlying story of the game and expands on the character of the Witch Ellen, the girl Viola, and their “friendship.” The rest you’ll have to find out for yourself, by either playing the original game (or its remastered version) or by watching one of the many playthroughs available.
The Witch’s House is an excellent horror RPG classic, full of jumpscares and quick reactions without being too inaccessible or punishing for the average players. While deaths are frequent, they’re not overly punishing, letting the player enjoy the scare before they get back to the puzzle solving. For the full blind experience, expect to die often and in bloody ways, so viewer/player discretion is advised. Watch your step!