Little Witch in the Woods is a cozy, witch-themed life simulator, which quickly garnered the attention of Stardew Valley fans thanks primarily to its adorable pixel art aesthetics. While Little Witch in the Woods’ art is certainly reminiscent of similar titles, the game play loop itself manages to bring enough to the table to keep players invested in the antics of our protagonist, Ellie.
I was originally introduced to Little Witch in the Woods during a Wholesome Direct showcase in 2020, but even with the game on my radar I was caught by surprise when it launched simultaneously on PC and Xbox via Game Preview and as part Game Pass. A good chunk of my time gaming these last few years has been spent with similar adorable, albeit slightly macabre, type of games such as Cozy Grove and Graveyard Keeper, and Little Witch in the Woods manages to fit right into the genre while still feeling fresh and intriguing.
What is Little Witch in the Woods?
Little Witch in the Woods tells the tale of a young witch named Ellie and her curmudgeonly old witch hat, Virgil. Ellie has been assigned an apprenticeship so that she can complete her training as a witch, however she finds the prim and proper structuring of Witch School to be a bore. Our protagonist prefers to experience the world in her own way, however, as we learn through one particularly charming dialogue section where she describes a potion recipe explicitly stating to shake the concoction no more than three times. Ellie declares that the potion exploded the fifth time she shook it, and that she only shook it five times because nothing happened after four shakes.
The game begins with Ellie and Virgil aboard a train heading to her assigned apprenticeship; however, there is a blockage in the way of the tracks that leads to the train stopping overnight. Already disinterested in reaching her destination, Ellie leaves the train to explore the surrounding woods where she comes upon a small, but seemingly abandoned witch house. From here, players are tasked with helping the little witch clean up the old house and fulfilling quests for the neighboring NPCs while brewing potions and crafting candies in the basement.
Oddly enough, there isn’t any farming in Little Witch in the Woods, unlike other titles in this genre. However, players can take Ellie out to collect useful resources from the surrounding woods or by ordering from the Witch catalog. These resources can then be refined in the basement of the house before ultimately being combined in a large cauldron to craft.
Players can use Ellie’s handy grimoire as their resource for recipes and where to acquire materials. The grimoire becomes fleshed out while exploring when players use Ellie’s quill tool to jot down notes about various plants and wildlife. In addition to the quill, players can purchase additional items for Ellie to use, such as a broom for flying around on and a net for catching bugs. Every task takes a bit from Ellie’s stamina bar, which can be refilled by eating or sleeping.
At this stage, crafting recipes typically involves the player collecting the correct ingredients and then following directions to set the right level of heat on Ellie’s cauldron and stirring the potion in the correct direction. Because the game is in game preview, still, there is potential for additional crafting mechanics to be added once the Little Witch in the Woods gets closer to full release.
Is Little Witch in the Woods worth playing?
There’s a lot to like about Little Witch in the Woods, from its beautiful pixel art and charming sprite animations to its creative potion crafting mechanics. The game may still only be in game preview, but there is plenty to explore in Ellie’s world. Even after playing for several hours, I feel as though I’ve only begun to scratch the surface. Sunny Side Up has stated that additional content will be added to the game throughout its time in Game Preview, as well.
Little Witch in the Woods does get a little heavy-handed on the dialogue, unfortunately, and conversations can become repetitive particularly when the game tasks the player with questioning NPCs about specific story bits. For players who end up button mashing their way through the dialogue, there is a handy log that can be pulled up so you can re-read what you missed. However, the game’s current state gives the developers plenty of time and opportunity to adjust the dialogue based on player feedback.
Even with its development still underway, Little Witch in the Woods has what it takes to cement itself among the stars of wholesome life simulators. Personally, I cannot wait to see what kind of adventures Ellie and Virgil find themselves in as this game grows.
Little Witch in the Woods
Little Witch in the Woods is a slice of life simulator with a delightful witchy twist. Play as Ellie, the ever-curious witch apprentice as she helps save a village from ruin with magical potions and delicious candies.
Download from: Xbox (opens in new tab)
Cole is the resident Call of Duty know-it-all and indie game enthusiast for Windows Central. She's a lifelong artist with two decades of experience in digital painting, and she will happily talk your ear off about budget pen displays.
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