HomeTechnology5 tips for playing the new Death Stranding-inspired Witch Strands

5 tips for playing the new Death Stranding-inspired Witch Strands

A grid of dark squares, with a rabbit in a square and text displayed that reads: Heather.  Trying to believe in better days.  -- SICK.

Screenshot: strange scaffolding

witch strandings is the second official “strand” type gamea genre (but more like an ideal) first introduced by Hideo Kojima focused on transportation Death Stranding. Like that other game, witch strandings takes you through a ruined and perilous landscape in order to deliver things. Unlike this other game, witch strandings is stripped down, bay-colored squares and creatures are all pixel-heavy. At first glance, its mission as a “strand” game is unintelligible, so I’ve compiled a list of five things you need to know before playing.

1. You are your mouse, your mouse is you

Officially you are playing witch strandings like a delicate sliver of light, but in reality, you are your computer mouse. You can’t play this game with a controller or keyboard, so don’t even think about it. You can click and you can drag.

The pleasure of this limitation depends on your relationship with your mouse. Mine is a little sticky when moving around on its pad, which is unfortunate since dragging your mouse is what this game counts as its primary method of movement. You can change your mouse sensitivity, and whether you want to pick up items with a click-and-drag or rocking approach, but whatever you choose, it’s a good idea to free up some space for your mouse. Break out your smoothest and widest mouse pad. Get ready for movement.

2. The map is small but dangerous

For the benefit of your mouse, there’s not a lot of moving around.

When you create a new file, the game’s rather charming story appears in the form of a brief message: “Dark things live in this forest, and you are not a part of them. You arrive quietly, in a cloud of dust and magic, conjured by the forest itself at its very heart. A spirit of light to confront the darkness of the witch who ruined it, one miracle at a time. The forest is indeed dark, with all its square components appearing in deep fall hues It has different areas marked by certain objects or terrain (Killing Fields are strewn with shrunken carcasses, Riverhead tilted with grass), but it’s not big, especially if you use your mouse scroll to zoom out all the way.

It is also immutable. Days pass and time is measured by a grandfather clock in the lower right corner, but this makes no significant difference in how the forest looks or behaves. (If you noticed anything I missed, let me know in the comments!).

Due to the repetitiveness of the small map, I often got impatient while looking for things and often found myself in hostile terrain, all marked with different colors or patterns and having effects on your mouse movement. Mud, for example, is represented by mottled brown blocks and is hard work, requiring you to drag your mouse with jerky physical movements or keep your face where you are.

Even more troublesome, accidentally hovering over areas with rushing water, poison, or hot pink hexes will quickly drain your health bar until you die (your bar grows back quickly if you get away in time). Be patient and thoughtful as you navigate this tiny but deadly map.

Purple and brown tiles in the game Witch Strandings.

Actions that help the forest, in turn, help you.
Screenshot: strange scaffolding

3. You desperately need a tote bag

Your main objective as a small point of light is to restore the forest to its full potential, a mission you can follow by looking at the bare tree in the lower left of the screen. As you deliver items, you’ll gradually restore forest creatures and structures to their former glory, shown by the filling in of the tree. However, at first it is one item at a time. Eventually you get a pouch for storage. The pouch can hold one more item.

Let me be on your level – I’m a very impatient person, and bringing the discouraged woodland creatures in the game their healing treats, no matter how funny their names were (my favorite is a bunny named “Chad Shakespeare”), was so boring . My impatience, of course, brings us back to my rush through the pitch problem, and I’m often dead. I died twice in the tutorial.

It helps to get into the habit of memorizing where you typically see certain elements so you don’t waste time getting lost in a pile of poison pixels. But get that tote bag as soon as you can.

4. People like to take and take, don’t they?

If you manage to find out where all the remedies and tchotchkes are, you’re still not completely clear.

Passing days signal changes in the needs of forest creatures – if they were disturbed yesterday, today they might be hungry and thirsty. They’re like helpless babies named Chad Shakespeare, and while you’re a benevolent beam of light, if you’re tired of all the moaning, you can kill them using a skull item you can find in a hollow tree.

Killing tragically nets you -4,023 points from the 200 assist points, but if you decide to take the wrong route despite the game’s wishes, please know that I, personally, will not judge you. If not, place an item of great necessity in your bag.

5. I FEAR DEATH

This is my most important tip: if you die, keep dragging your cursor down the screen until you come to a burst of white light and sound that will take you back to the forest.

As established, I died too many times on my first playthrough, and each time made me want to pound my boyfriend’s $3,000 gaming PC. But it’s not Nvidia’s fault witch strandings has such an obtuse resurrection process. It’s poignant, of course – flying your light through the black screen of death makes you feel like you’re in the soup of the universe, flying towards your humanity, but as far as my channel is concerned carpal, dragging my mouse through eternity wasn’t ideal. Just be aware, okay?

And let me know what you think of witch strandings, or if you have any other helpful tips. Culturally, we are still getting to know the “strand type” game.

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