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This year marks the 20th anniversary of The Blair Witch Project, a found-footage horror film that debuted in theaters in 1999. At this past E3, Bloober Team (Observer, Layers of Fear) announced at Microsoft's press conference it is releasing a Blair Witch game in partnership with Lionsgate Games.
The Blair Witch Project tells the story of a small group of film students that enter Black Hills Forest, a woodland area in Burkittsville, Maryland. Blair Witch the game, however, brings its own spin on those grisly events with an all-new cast and plot. You play as an ex-cop named Ellis Lynch who, just like those young adults in the original film, is tormented by the supernatural perils of the forest.
We've already had a chance to sit down with writer Barbara Kciuk and developer Maciek Glomb during E3 for a quick chat, and we spoke to them again for an even deeper dive on what we can expect from the upcoming psychological horror title. Here's everything we learned.
Solve Puzzles With Your Camcorder
In Blair Witch, you aren't just running from the witch or trying to get your head around psychological horrors; you also spend a good chunk of time solving puzzles to better understand the world around you or to progress further. During this journey in the woods, you find several tapes scattered around in old cabins or elsewhere in the forest. These bits of footage can be played back on your camcorder, but what's most fascinating is that the world will change around you as you watch the video. For example, rewinding a video of a tree falling to make it stand up again would do the same to the fallen tree in real life, granting you access to a new path.
The Witch Sends Her Minions After You
In the movie The Blair Witch Project, you never actually see the witch or any other supernatural beings. Bizarre happenings occur around the protagonists, but it isn't clear why this is happening or who is responsible. The implication is it is the witch, since that's the urban legend the students are chasing, but what if in reality they're just going mad?
Blair Witch the game has a different and more direct approach. I wasn't told whether we would see the witch herself, but what you will face are her minions. In some gameplay footage I saw, there were glowing-red monsters that looked as if they were made out of twigs, and another creature I could never get a good look at since it zoomed around Ellis at full speed. These are the witch's minions; she sends them after you to try and take you down. Luckily, you have a flashlight that can momentarily blind foes and fend them off, but be careful, because they'll eventually come back. Some enemies, however, aren't susceptible to your flashlight's glow and you will instead have to sneak around them.
Your Choices Matter
Story plays a big part in Blair Witch, and choices do too. However, decisions you make won't be similar to Telltale fare or RPGs with dialogue options; instead, your choices will be much more organic and without distracting gameplay systems. Your actions, such as where you investigate and how you treat your dog Bullet, will have consequences that shape who Ellis is as a person and even the fate of your animal companion.
The witch may also play tricks on you to cloud your judgment with certain decisions. Sometimes you will hear familiar voices echoing off trees and lulling you towards them, and you may think it's the rest of the search party. But is it really? Following said voices could pose as a risk, since the witch enjoys toying with you.
Follow A Furry Best Friend
Bullet is your loyal dog who is an absolute asset to you during your treacherous journey in the woods. You can give him certain commands, such as instructing him to investigate something ahead before you go there yourself. Your relationship with Bullet is significant to both the game and story; if you gain his trust, he is more willing to help you and get you out of dangerous situations. This isn't as simple as petting your dog frequently enough; these behind-the-scenes relationship systems are more complicated, Bloober explained. If you don't try to maintain a strong bond, you may end up in trouble and so could Bullet. Your furry companion may also follow scents of items you've just collected or even find things himself (like the aforementioned tapes) to bring back to you.
Blair Witch releases for Xbox One and PC on August 30.