A screenshot from Witchfire showing a reddish sunset reflecting off a lake.

Abandon all hope ye who enter here: A beginner's guide to Witchfire

By Jerry Bonner, Contributor

Witchfire is an interesting game—one that usurped my expectations in a couple different ways. From the initial trailer, I expected more of a story-driven, first-person experience akin to Bioshock. Instead, Witchfire is a punishing first-person shooter with role-playing and roguelite or Soulslike elements, emphasizing combat, firearms, and spellcasting.

The game is set in a dark fantasy world in which a war is being fought between powerful witches and the Church. In this alternate reality, witches are quite real and rather dangerous—but so is the witch hunter, also known as a Preyer. Armed by Vatican sorcerers, the Preyer wields a vast array of guns and illicit sorcery as they battle the nasty nemeses on behalf of their pastoral benefactors. (Players interested in learning more about the Witchfire lore can read the short story The Preyer, written by The Astronauts Creative Director Adrian Chmielarz.)
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Witchfire features a limited selection of firearms in this Early Access build, each with unique upgrades that are rather challenging to unlock. There's also an extensive elemental magic system featuring four core elements: Freeze (ice), Burn (fire), Shock (electricity), and Decay (drain or decompose enemies). Magic interacts with the environment and conventional weaponry. You can, for example, electrocute enemies standing in water or shatter frozen bad guys. Acquired spells can also be upgraded and developed further.

You'll need everything at your disposal. Encounters in Witchfire are fast-paced and foes are quite nimble and tenacious. The Preyer meanwhile can sidestep, dash, and jump (or even double jump) to avoid enemy attacks.

Your only safe haven in Witchfire is the Hideout or hub world. You can store an infinite amount of items there, but your inventory is limited during expeditions. The Hideout is also where you can increase your stats and research upgrades for your weapons and items.

The Early Access release of Witchfire offers two destinations, the Scarlet Coast and Irongate Castle. Here’s a rundown of some important lessons I learned while playing in these two destinations.
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  • There is a chapel at the outset of the game where you can pray for insight. This offers some basic instruction and tutorial—but in general, don’t expect a lot of handholding from Witchfire.
  • At the Ascension Shrine in your Hideout, upgrade your Vitality (HP) first. I would recommend upping it to at least 13 before you start spending valuable Witchfire on your other stats—Healing, Endurance, Witchery, Metanoia, and Luck.
  • As for the weapons and items that worked best for me: For firearms, I favored the Shotgun (Echo), Machine Pistol (Cricket), and Crossbow (Vulture). You also choose a Light Spell and a Heavy Spell, and I went with Fireballs and the Iron Cross spell that binds nearby enemies. The Relic I chose is the Eye of Madwoman, which strikes crippled enemies with lightning. I paired this with the Fetish called Nele # 06, which turns Witchfire into healing essence if need be. And I finished off my build with the Ring of Excreta, which leaves behind a time bomb of sorts that both injures and knocks back enemies.



  • Don’t die. Yes, that’s obvious—but beyond being a serious buzzkill, dying sends you back to the Hideout, you lose the Witchfire you’ve acquired and you have to start over (in true roguelite fashion).
  • Witchfire can and will end you quickly if you aren’t smart or careful, especially at the outset, so learn to use cover. Try to separate enemies then pick them off, one by one.
  • Stick and move tactics are key in Witchfire as enemies are quick and can overwhelm you in certain areas. Use jump and dash combos to gain advantageous positioning and then blast the hell out of them. Literally!
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Collect resources


  • Don’t bother eating the mushrooms. During my playthroughs it seemed most of them were poisonous—and even the ones that weren’t didn’t provide enough of a boost to be worth it. The same can be said for any “potentially” cursed letters or gems you may happen upon.
  • Collecting other plants and herbs found around the levels is beneficial though, as those will let you craft extra healing potions and the like back at the Hideout.
  • Avoid Cursed Chests—the ones you have to rip the magic seals off of—unless you are certain you can handle the onslaught of baddies that it will unleash upon opening.
  • After clearing a wave of enemies, a large coagulated Witchfire crystal called Deus Vult will appear. Grab these quickly before they vanish, if you can. They offer you substantial in-level perks (like the Arcana that is broken into three subsections for firearms, spells, and varia) that really provide some extra pop to your weapons and magic until you escape or exit that expedition.

Unlocks and upgrades


  • Collect Witchfire to unlock and upgrade your stats at the Ascension Shrine in your Hideout.
  • Amassed gold will pay for crucial upgrades and research for your weapons, spells, magical items, Arcana, and Incantations. You can access these at the floating mirror in the Sanctuary section of the Hideout.
  • In addition to the previously mentioned Deus Vult Witchfire crystals, you can unlock Arcana with  white raven feathers that pop out of chests during expeditions.
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Plan ahead


  • Check your map early and often, as this will tell you where enemies lurk—and reveal the location of Portals you can use to escape back to the Hideout.
  • Checking the onscreen HUD or map will also show where chests are tucked away. These chests contain various items—ammo, feathers, Witchfire crystals, and so on—and are critical both to advancing your progress through the levels and upgrading your weapons and spells back at the Hideout.
  • Speaking of Portals, don't be ashamed to use one early (even before clearing a level) if you are taking a beating or have amassed some resources. This is the best way to incrementally boost your stats and overall power.

Boss tips


  • To find and face the end boss (or as Witchfire would say, the Witch’s Familiar) of the Scarlet Coast level, you’ll have to take a “leap of faith” into the glowing chasm.
  • Jump over or dash under the Irongate Castle boss’s ground pound attack. If you choose to jump, unleash a few shots from your weapon (or a magical attack) while in midair. The Iron Cross Heavy Spell also works well, pulling the boss away from you and keeping it restrained for several critical moments.
  • Another thing to keep in mind while battling the Irongate Castle boss: Don’t let it push you back so far that you end up close to the edge of the cliff because you can plummet to your death. This happened to me the first time we fought, and I was rather unhappy to say the very least.

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It’s important to reiterate that Witchfire is still in Early Access and some of these details could change. As The Astronauts’ Adrian Chmielarz pointed out in an Early Access FAQ, “All game developers worth their salt know that play-testing is crucial and should be done as many times as possible during the development of the project. What is an Early Access if not this, just on a much larger scale, and with much greater variety and overall quality of feedback?”

Witchfire is available in Early Access on the Epic Games Store starting September 20.