What started out as a series of mobile RPGs has now been remade as a fully-fledged JRPG. This sleeper hit from KIWIWALKS amassed an Overwhelmingly Positive rating on Steam from fans of the series and new players alike. WitchSpring R is a remake of the very first WitchSpring game. We follow the adorable little witch, Pieberry, in her journey of growth and self-discovery.
The WitchSpring Series
WitchSpring as a series has been around since 2015. They were fun little mobile RPGs that garnered quite a niche of fans over the years. Throughout its lifespan, four mobile games have been made. While WitchSpring 3 is also being ported to PC and on the Nintendo Switch. Now, eight years later after the release of the very first WitchSpring. WitchSpring R, a full remake of the first game finally released on Steam! Of course, at first, I was skeptical about how good this game would be.
Honestly, because of KIWIWALK’s mobile pedigree. But surprisingly, WitchSpring R is actually one of if not the best JRPG I’ve ever played after such a long time.
In WitchSpring R, we follow the story of a young witch named Pieberry. Abandoned by her parents as a child Pieberry lives alone in a secluded forest. But her peaceful life is being threatened by the appearance of palace warriors on the hunt for witches. Which urges Pieberry to leave her forest in search of answers and most importantly, to find her favorite pie.
At the start, WitchSpring R’s story may feel nonsensical. Or, in another sense, seems like it simply serves as a convenient plot device to fill in information for the gameplay. And for the majority of the first chapter, this is kind of true. But as you play through the game and the world starts to open up, an amazing story will start to unfold. The world of WitchSpring R is rich and filled with events that eventually tie into the main story.
Even the different environment set pieces act as an aide to its storytelling, from aground ships to a small quaint village to a dragon stuck to the side of a mountain. The game uses its environment so well that every section gets its own importance within the game and the story.
Of course, a great story cannot be achieved without great characters. WitchSpring R features a gleeful cast of heroes, villains, and frenemies each with their own goals and motivations. Every character in WitchSpring R feels very dynamic and even supporting characters that are barely onscreen end up being memorable.
Most importantly, the cast actually goes through massive character developments throughout the game. So, the characters themselves never feel monotone at any point in the game. This is especially true with the main character, Pieberry. Witness her growth from a naive pie-obsessed kid to a kind but powerful witch.
The story is filled with amazing twists and turns that it’s hard to even predict events at times. But that’s not a bad thing, in fact, in this case, it’s actually great! You’ll never know when your goal to pick up some berries may lead you to discovering complex mysteries.
Interestingly, despite the series having a mobile game pedigree, the quality of this game’s story is on par with even the greatest JRPGs ever made. And that’s not an exaggeration. The flow, execution, and presentation of WitchSpring R’s story is one that feels like it was done by people who understand what actually makes JRPGs great!
With the developers KIWIWALKS having mainly worked on mobile games, I was honestly doubtful that they could pull off a fully-fledged JRPG. The game’s screenshots on its Steam store page simply looked like an enhanced version of the original game. Granted, the graphics compared to the mobile game are leagues apart, but it is easy to tell that this game came from humble (mobile) beginnings. But despite its graphics being better than its predecessors, comparing it to the graphical standards of new JRPGs, it’s clear that it falls behind in terms of visual fidelity.
However, in spite of its trailing graphics the art of WitchSpring R perfectly conveys its world to its players. This actually reminds me of older games that didn’t have access to photorealistic graphics having more soul than recent ones. Indeed, the longer I played the game, the more I got immersed in its characters, its world, and all the tiny bits and pieces it had to offer. And I eventually ended up disregarding the technicalities of its graphics as I was mesmerized by its magical art style.
But what sets this game apart from the rest is its gameplay loop. At first glance it is very similar to the Atelier series: you harvest materials, fight mobs, do some story, do whatevs back in your witch cabin, rinse, and repeat. But what I find fascinating is this game’s understanding of gradual progression. In the entirety of your playthrough, you will notice that you’re constantly growing stronger.
Enemies that used to take a bunch of turns to beat eventually become one-shootable after a while. And this is true not just for mobs but even bosses. I should know because I overgrinded and ended up one-shotting every boss in Chapters 6 and 7 except for the final boss. Play long enough, and you can delete anything in a single turn.
Aside from combat, you’ll do the usual collecting errands, and in later parts of the game, these errands will eventually involve having to fight as well. In WitchSpring R, materials are the name of the game. The more you hoard materials, the better. But the funny thing is, even after finishing the game I never got tired of grinding in the game, in fact, I wanted to do it a little bit more.
I truly love how the game focused on “fun” rather than other technicalities like challenge or balance. I’m not saying balancing doesn’t exist here, but games these days are so obsessed with challenges that they’re missing the point of single-player games.
The game also spoils you with a myriad of discoveries, from pets to legendary weapons to not-so-obvious sidequests. This makes exploration in WitchSpring R an absolute delight, and I can’t wait to go at it again. Sadly, WitchSpring R doesn’t have a NewGame+, but it would’ve been an absolute treat if it did. As of now, there is no news from the developers about the future of the game. But overall it’s still a solid experience shipped complete from start to finish.
If you enjoy turn-based JRPGs of any kind, do yourself a favor and treat yourself to a soft serving of WitchSpring R. A JRPG with a fantastic story, amazing visuals, amazing gameplay, and an amazing world that’s already been thought out as a result of being a longstanding franchise. KIWIWALKS really outdid themselves here. I never would’ve thought that a mobile RPG developer could do the impossible and create a fully-fledged JRPG from their mobile yet beloved franchise. A feat that few developers pull off. WitchSpring is available on Steam, and I cannot recommend it enough.