Witchaven is a medieval fantasy first-person shooter video game with action role-playing game elements, developed by Capstone Software and released by Intracorp Entertainment in 1995. Its sword and sorcery style story tasks the knight Grondoval with a quest to seek out and kill a powerful evil witch in her titular fortress. The game was based on the Build engine and received mixed reviews. It was followed by the sequel titled Witchaven II: Blood Vengeance in 1996.
In Witchaven, the player is cast in the role of Grondoval, a knight in service of his fantasy homeland Stazhia, been chosen by his master, Lord Verkapheron, for a mission to rid the world of an ancient and powerful wicked witch named Illwhyrin. In her lair, known as the realm of Witchaven and hidden in a massive subterranean maze under the forbidding Isle of Char, Illwhyrin performs evil rituals seeking to lift a dimensional barrier, known as the Veil, that separates the game's universe from chaotic Nether Reaches, in order to access unlimited dark powers to draw upon and gather a vast horde of demonic minions to use armies for conquest. Grondoval arrives at Char by boat, armed only with a dagger, and needs to fight his way through the hordes of monsters dwelling in a labyrinth of dark caves and dungeons so he can reach Illwhyrin's inner sanctum in time and put an end to her before she can plunge the world into never-ending darkness.
Although the game is considered a first-person shooter (FPS), the game has several role-playing game (RPG) elements, including character progression by acquiring experience points (gained by defeating enemies and finding gold) and level advancement with increasing number of hit points, damage modifiers and weapons proficiency, and access to more powerful spells at higher levels. The game also has a focus on close-quarters combat, unlike the standard run-and-gun gameplay of most first-person shooters at the time. Other than that, the game is similar to many typical FPS games of its era in that the player needs to kill everything that moves in his path while looking for color-coded keys to open closed doors, and eventually to find an exit that would lead to the next level. There are also options to adjust the game's difficulty and gore levels.
There are ten weapons in Witchaven, each with a different attack range and other characteristics. Among them are bare fists, a dagger, a short sword, a morning star, a broadsword, a battle axe, a bow and arrows, throwing axes, a pike axe, a two-handed longsword and a halberd. One of the game's more innovative features is that weapons are not infinitely durable. With the exceptions of the fists, weapons will break down with repeated use and replacements must be found in order to continue fighting. The player can also find different types of armor (only one of which may be worn at a time) at the time, each with various values of their starting armor points, a number of armor points that are subtracted with each hit, and a chance of deflecting the attack completely. There is also a shield that acts as a weak armor but can also be used to attack, while helmets add armor points and also double the damage the player inflicts for a while.
Fighting consists not only of hand-to-hand combat but also of the use of magic. There are several types of the scroll-based spells which can be cast by the player, such as the Fireball, Fly, Freeze, Scare, Unlock, and Nuke invocations. The player can drink various potions for restoring health, curing poison status, or gaining supernatural strength (increased damage), invincibility or invisibility for a half minute. Other items are the ankh symbol that gives the player the maximum number of 250 health points and a crystal staff that also gives a maximum number of 300 armor points, magic amulets activating invisibility or scare magic for one minute, horns that enable the player to steal the enemies' health points, and various magic rings providing different types of protection such as fire resistance, and scepters enabling to walk on either water or lava.
There is a plethora of enemies the player must contend with, including goblins, ogres, imps, skeletons, willow wisps and fire drakes. Some of them are prone to fighting against the other types of enemies (for instance, differently-colored rival goblin tribes will attack each other if put in close proximity). Treasure chests can contain wealth or traps. The witch Illwhyrin is the only boss of the game but she appears repeatedly through the game, teleporting away when losing, until the final battle at the 25th level; the game ends with her death.
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