Blair Witch (2019) | Video Game Review
Blair Witch is a 2019 survival-horror, psychological-horror mystery game developed by Bloober Team and published by Bloober Team NA. The game is currently available on Xbox One and on the PC via Steam.
The Blair Witch Films: A Sort-of Short History
The Blair Witch Project (1999)
I don't know about you, but I loved the films about the Blair Witch. The first movie, The Blair Witch Project (1999), is my favorite because I was working at a movie theater when it came out and I remember wondering if it was real. It was even scarier to me because not only did I live in a house that was completely surrounded by acres of woods, I lived in Maryland as well. I remember talking with my brother and us asking each other how they could have possibly gotten lost in a forest that wasn't really that big.
Blair Witch: Book of Shadows (2000)
After the filmmakers let the public know the film was fiction, the second film quickly came out and people had (and still do) very ambivalent feelings towards Blair Witch: Book of Shadows (2000). I can't say I love it, as in I watch it all the time, but I do love the film in the sense that it creeps me the hell out and I watch it during the daylight only.
I know it's not the same as the first movie, but it's not meant to be. I don't really have a preference as to the way it was shot or how it's less real than the first one, so that never bothered me. I love the second film because it plays on the theory that the Blair Witch can influence people in ways where they don't even know that they are being influenced and others can take it as the person is in control of their own actions and the Blair Witch isn't even real. It is completely creepy to me that you could be controlled and/or influenced by something and you don't know it. Keeping this in mind, the 2019 Blair Witch video game uses this in the story.
Blair Witch (2016)
The third film, Blair Witch (2016) wasn't as creepy or scary to me until the characters in the film arrived at Rustin Parr's house. Just like in the first film, I was especially creeped out by the characters coming upon a big house in the woods that they theoretically should have seen in the daytime. However, as we know, the Blair Witch can possibly manipulate time (either that or the woods are affected by another force we don't know about, but I digress), so houses showing up in the woods that weren't there before is one of her super cool magic tricks.
Many of the things that happened in the third film were used in the game while in Rustin Parr's house, so it might behoove you to watch the film if you are interested in learning more about the story of the Blair Witch. One of the things that is used is how the house looks when you first enter the house. I mean...I froze. I was pretty scared because it looked almost too real. The house was the scariest part of the game for me for a lot of reasons I won't spoil here. (I've included spoilers below for those who are interested though). There are a lot of other things that were used in the game that were used in all of the movies, so if you love the Blair Witch films and the Blair Witch universe, you would probably like this game.
What is the Game Like?
The starts out with your character, Ellis, heading out with his Belgian Malinois dog named Bullet. Ellis drives out to infamous Black Hills Forest to join a search party looking for a young boy named Peter. When Ellis arrives to the search party meeting spot, he finds out the search party has already left, so he sets out with Bullet to catch up to them.
Me, I would've sat there and ate all the search party snacks, then left with Bullet to hang out with the other cool dogs at the dog park, but Ellis isn't me, and I'm not Ellis, so off we went into the creepy Black Hills Forest yonder.
What Does Ellis Use to Navigate His New, Creepy Surroundings? What Kind of Things Can He Sell at the Pawn Shop Later?
Ellis has several tools he uses to communicate with. Ellis can use his walkie-talkie to talk to the Sheriff, who is spearheading the search party, and other assorted characters in the story. He can use his phone to talk to his estranged girlfriend Jess, his doctor, his veterinarian, the VA Hospital, and Donny's Pizza. Ellis can also get voice mail and text messages on his phone.
As far as collectibles, Ellis can collect trash that Bullet finds for him (thanks Bullet!), little carved wooden figurines, pictures, tapes, papers, and other items that can be used to solve puzzles.
Ellis can use a camcorder he finds to watch tapes that allow him to manipulate time to obtain objects and solve puzzles (for more information about how to use this effectively, I have included a tips section below). He can also use the camera's night vision feature to follow trails and see things not visible to the naked eye.
Lastly, Ellis can use his handy-dandy flashlight to see stuff. You know, because it's a flashlight, duh.
What About the Most Awesome Character?
If you're wondering what the deal with Bullet is, you aren't alone. Is Bullet awesome? Yes, yes he is. Bullet will be right by your side if you want him nearby, he will go find objects for you, find the next objective for you (well, sometimes...sometimes he acts like a real weirdo and rolls around in the dead leaves with his tongue hanging out), tell you where the Blair Witch fire beast is at, and warn you where those creepy stick figure things are at so you can destroy them.
Bullet's collar glows in the dark too, so it's fairly easy to see him when he runs ahead to show you the way to the next objective.
Tips to Make it Through This Scary-Ass Game
Pet Bullet, pet him all the time. It seemed like every time I pet him he would go and find me something. I would pet him anyway, because I love animals, even animated ones, but even if you don't like animals, pet Bullet because it helps you out and may possibly help keep you sane.
Give Bullet some Scooby snacks once in a while. You only get three, but he seemed pretty happy and treating him right probably affects the story in a positive way (it might help keep you sane too).
When Bullet barks at the stick figures, go up to them and destroy them and you'll get rewarded with a creepy-ass picture of someone standing in a corner. I mean, who doesn't want that souvenir, am I right?
Resist the bad people. If someone or something tells you to do something bad, just don't do it.
Just because someone jumps off a bridge, you don't have to follow them. Just because someone tells you to look at them, doesn't mean you can't give them the finger while still continuing to look in any direction you want except them.
When the Blair Witch fire beast tries to attack you in the woods, Bullet will face it. Point your flashlight in the direction Bullet is facing (get behind him, but not too far) and your flashlight will flash brightly when you have found the fire beast thing.
The thing will light up like embers when you've gotten it and run away to the next location.
When you find tapes to watch on the camcorder, watch it in completion first, then look for actions. When you see something happen, fast forward or rewind to before or after it happens (a door closing- you'd stop the tape while it was open, then when you put the camcorder down, a door that was previously closed will be open).
This can be used for objects, blocked passageways, closed doors, etc.
There are several times where you will find yourself in a repeating loop of sorts if you are on a path. Try every direction, turn around, and go back to where you started. There will be objects that appear that weren't there before. Don't get frustrated, just be patient, you will find your way out; it's not meant to be impossible.
Sometimes your camcorder night vision works better than your flashlight. Turn it on and look for white paint and messages to find your way.
Keep calling Donny's Pizza, because nothing says "asshole" like making the pizza guy lose his shit.
Every time you see the cell phone tower icon, indicating you have service, check your messages and try calling people in your phone book and see what happens. Don't call me though. I'll fart into the phone and hang up on your ass.
Try calling the VA when you get upstairs at the sawmill.
Don't turn around. You'll know what I'm talking about. Just don't do it.
Let's Get to Those Spoilers
Does Bullet Die?
I got the bad ending (I'm pretty sure the worst ending because I didn't follow my natural instinct to disobey orders from anyone, much less crazy people and supernatural, evil beings), and no, Bullet didn't die. I figured if Bullet died or the gamemakers made me look at Bullet's mutilated corpse, that would be the end of the game for me, but Bullet showed up and he was a-okay! He barked at me and ran away, so I guess we're not Twitter buddies anymore, but as long as he's okay, I'm okay with being the new weirdo of the woods.
If I got the worst ending, I would think Bullet would be okay in all the rest of the endings. I haven't heard that Bullet dies in the end at all, so unless there is another ending I don't know about, I don't believe Bullet dies in the game.
What Do You Mean, "The New Weirdo of the Woods"?
Well, if you don't resist arrest, and by arrest I mean, if you don't resist the evil, not-so-sweet-nothings of the Blair Witch, you kind of become evil. There is a current evil weirdo of the woods named Carver, and he is kind of in cahoots with the Blair Witch so that you will complete tasks that will make you the new evil of the woods. I mistakenly became said new evil of the woods when I make a creepy stick figure from a creepy-ass dead tree bleeding black shit from its limbs. Oops, my bad. Don't do what I did. Just act like you're the boss of your own brain and ain't no witch or a stick wearing murderous weirdo with weird yellow eyes gonna tell you what to do.
Do You See the Blair Witch?
Oh, yeah. You'll see her. She's creepy as hell. You'll also see her "helpers" in the woods and in the house later in the game and if one sees you, it'll jump on you and you'll piss your pants, so wear some Pampers or Depends or whatever fits. Put a towel on the couch as well if you're prone to shitting your pants when you get scared. I mean, you want to be prepared, right?
What's With Ellis?
Ellis has PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder) from not only being in the military and being deployed, but also from his childhood. As far as his childhood goes, Ellis was in the woods as a child after he was abducted and was supposed to be sacrificed for the Blair Witch, but he escaped. Supposedly he is okay after seeing a therapist, but I mean...yeah right, you don't escape the Blair Witch (kind of what they said in the Blair Witch (2016) film, you never really leave once you've been in the Black Hills Forest).
As far as the military goes, Ellis is a moron who can't do reconnaissance to save his life (or any of his fellow military folk's lives) and he gets his whole team killed while on a mission (dumbass). Now, whether this is due to the Blair Witch's influence, we don't know, but he also kills a woman local to the area he is fighting in because she's about to tell the enemies his location as well, and I kind of began to think that maybe he was influenced by the Blair Witch throughout his life.
After Ellis gets out, the Sheriff who rescued him from the woods gives him a job as a cop because he feels sorry for him, and Ellis ends up killing an unarmed robber during a robbery. All of this caused Ellis to go out into the woods and search for the young boy because the young boy is the younger brother of the robber he shot.
My theory is that the Blair Witch influenced him so he would eventually come back to the woods and become "hers", whether he die and get trapped in the woods or become her servant, who knows, but I think she had influence over him ever since he went into the woods and he never really left.
End of Spoilers
I really liked a lot of this game. The only thing I didn't like was how long I was in the house. It felt like I was lost and trapped, but I kind of think that's how Bloober Team wanted it to feel like. I thought the house was very realistic and looked very much what the houses looked like in the first and third Blair Witch films, so it was very immersive and frankly, terrifying for me.
What scares me might not scare you, but if you are a fan of the Blair Witch films and the Blair Witch universe, I think you might like this game. It took me eight hours to complete and I didn't get all the clues, collectibles, I didn't solve all the puzzles, and I didn't get all the endings yet, so I am looking forward to playing it again.
What do you think about this game? Did you like it? Please share your thoughts in the comment section below!
Here's a picture of my very own Bullet (his name is Tristan McGee though) and yes, he's a weirdo.