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Is Witchfire the Next Painkiller?

No. Saved you a click.

No. Saved you a click.

Some people who work on Witchfire were the creative force behind Painkiller. I guess this is one of the reasons we’re seeing this a lot of hope – be it in YouTube or Reddit comments – that our new project is basically Painkiller 2.

So to make matters clear, let me use this week’s entry to clarify that no, Witchfire is not the next Painkiller.

I guess there’s a hunger for run and gun games that even the new Doom could not satisfy. All action, no reload, no ADS (Aiming Down Sight), ultrafast movement – everything that the old school was, as was the tribute to that, Painkiller.

But while obviously Witchfire shares some DNA with these games – it’s a First Person Shooter, after all – here’s a couple of reasons why it’s not Painkiller:

Combat loop

Let’s be honest: as much as shooting monsters in the face is fun, Painkiller was mostly about two moves: backpedaling and circle-strafing.

In Witchfire, we want a much, much higher range of combat dynamics. Everyone should be able to do well if they excel at their niche: be it a close range dance with the hand cannon and a shotgun, or sniping campfest (emphasis on excel, though: you won’t survive in your campspots without perfect aim, clever use of abilities, and occasional repositioning).

We’re also extending the number of tools of destruction to your disposal. It’s no longer just weapons, but also spells of many kinds (including melee). Not to mention passive abilities…

Oddly enough, Painkiller’s Black Tarot system was our attempt at this…

…but it felt neither necessary nor was of depth we’re after.


It’s going to be fast, and you have the dash, but we put much more emphasis on physicality and immersion. ADS, weapon sway when jumping or landing (or, in general, weapon weight), different reaction to landing depending on the height of the jump, pushbacks by external physical forces – we work on a lot of these things to make sure you really feel your presence in the world.

Of course we’re not going for a realistic simulation, that’d be boring and basically unplayable. We’re making sure the control over your character feels snappy and responsive, and it doesn’t take eternity to switch weapons. However, bunny hopping around the level with the speed of light is not something we’re after either.


There’s going to be loot. Weapons will have random perks, and so will other gear.

However, we’re trying to avoid calling Witchfire a looter shooter, because we feel that it often suggests a game that’s more about the loot than the skill. The game we’re trying to make is not going to play itself for you as soon as RNGesus blesses you. Our loot is about inventing synergies and amplifying your skill with the loot but you’ll still need to keep hitting those shots while controlling the chaos of events unfolding with your movement, positioning and abilities.

Think Dark Souls. There’s loot, and you can even farm certain areas for more loot and exp, but at the end of the day there’s enough skill checks in the game that you feel you truly earned that ending.


Painkiller was a linear game and the endgame was basically people finding the fun in speedrunning or exploiting. Witchfire’s structure is very, very different, but the reveal of that is for much later.


There was a cut-scenes told story in Painkiller. Not that anyone really cared or that it made sense (FWIW, that was the only thing forced upon us by the publisher, details in Ten Things You Didn’t Know About Painkiller), but it was there. But no real lore and the world you could invest into and immerse yourself in.

Things are completely the opposite in Witchfire. We don’t have the traditional story-telling but we do have the world worth exploring and deciphering.

With all of the above in mind, it’s not like there are no similarities between the two games. Things are much more serious in Witchfire, but just like in Painkiller, the dark fantasy/horror undertones are very present. The craziness we have in our blood might leak into Witchfire as well. You still shoot monsters in the face. And there’s one more thing, but let’s not spoil the surprise.

Question of the Week

To us, the damage numbers “issue” is not really an issue at all. You literally have both an enemy health bar and a damage number displayed with each hit in Bloodborne, and no one complains that this external, artificial UI elements ruin anything. When the game is done right, all such stuff becomes transparent to the player very quickly.

In a way, this topic connects to the main post: as you can see, Witchfire goes “a bit” deeper with minmaxing, builds and synergies (things that numbers help with) than Painkiller.

However, I don’t see an issue to have an option to turn the HUD off, or maybe even select elements of it, in the game menu.

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