Despite their increasing popularity, I am not a fan of mobile games. Maybe it sounds elitist, but I think there’s just something more enticing about playing games on the big screen and being able to see the worlds crafted by game developers in their full glory. That’s why I was really happy when Witch Spring 3 RE:Fine was announced for the Nintendo Switch.
If you aren’t familiar with the Witch Spring series, they are JRPGs following the stories of witch deities living in the continents of Vavelia and Derkarr, the third game taking place in the latter. They very much resemble the early Atelier games in their playstyle and sense of adventure.
Witch Spring 3 RE:Fine was developed by KiwiWalks and published by ININ Games. The game was officially released for the Nintendo Switch on August 13, 2021, but you can also play the mobile version released back in 2017 on Android and iOS.
The Nintendo Switch version was played for this review.
The Magical Power of Friendship
Witch Spring 3 RE:Fine follows the story of Eirudy, a “witch” who has lived on her own and not interacted with anyone besides her grandmother for the entirety of her life. Her only companions are stuffed dolls, who happen to not talk despite her attempts at making them do so. Eirudy’s quiet life changes when she runs into Adrian, a boy with a sense of adventure who is looking to cure his mother of an illness that has kept her asleep for years. Adrian opens up Eirudy’s world by introducing her to different people that show her kindness and expand her knowledge of the world she inhabits. What ensues is a familiar JRPG adventure, full of friendship, dragons, and self-discovery.
There is nothing particularly unique about Witch Spring 3 RE:Fine’s story. It follows the genre’s basic formula to a T, and while this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it makes it so that it’s a difficult game to want to invest much time into despite its multiple endings. The good news is that it’s a short experience (can be completed in about 10 hours if you focus solely on the story and not side-quests), it’s just nothing you haven’t played before.
It doesn’t help that the game’s characters tend to feel very one-dimensional. Our protagonist, Eirudy, may be the biggest offender, as she’s a bland mixture of basic dialogue and child-like nativity that can make certain moments frustrating. I know the developers were trying to go for the cute and innocent personality, but sometimes when important story bits are happening, her reactions can seem rather dull and unwarranted.
There are some supporting characters (*cough* Lewis and Johannes) that do a good job of bringing the cast to life, especially when interacting with Adrian, but those moments are few and far between.
Perhaps the flaws in its storytelling can be attributed to the fact that Witch Spring 3 started out as a mobile game. In my experience, games on such a limited platform don’t tend to have grand storylines and have a habit of moving rather quickly. However, even if this is the reason, I shouldn’t have to find excuses for why a game’s story is bad. If I need to do that then it’s REALLY not worth investing time into in my book.
Eirudy’s Witchy-Bag of Tricks
Witch Spring 3 RE:Fine is a turn-based game, set apart by the doll system it employs in place of party members. These dolls can either attack enemies or provide Eirudy with buffs/heals (their effectiveness is tied to her stats), making them very useful allies.
Aside from the doll system, Witch Spring 3 RE:Fine doesn’t have any outstanding battle mechanics. Eirudy has access to magic spells (you can attach supportive magic to an element, which can be used to exploit enemy weaknesses), physical sword attacks, and a tool menu that allows her to use buffing/restorative items without taking up a turn. Despite her decent array of skills, battles are not particularly complex and have no sense of danger, especially if you choose to train outside of story events.
The lack of battle difficulty is further compounded by the fact that aside from a few story-locked locations, Eirudy can fight whatever monsters she wants whenever she wants. Strong enemies are not gated by the story, so if you want to go fight dragons at lower levels, you’re allowed to do that. Doing this can raise Eirudy’s stats very quickly, meaning that advancing in story-related fights can come down to one-shots depending on how much you do on your own. However, you still need to beat monsters if you want to collect vitality, the currency used to wake new dolls, and level up your unlocked ones.
Collecting vitality had me fighting the same enemies often, a decision that made battles grow stale rather quickly. This burnout can probably be avoided if you don’t grind, but I did and then never wanted to enter another fight again.
Aside from battling monsters, RE:Fine allows you to develop Eirudy’s stats through a training system where you choose what she focuses on. This system is on a timer that depending on how you spend your time resets rather quickly. The activities to choose from affect Eirudy’s health, magic attack, mp, crafting recipes, magic knowledge, and a few other things. This system only contributes to the problem stated above.
On the bright side, you can craft. This is the most complex part…Ok, I’m kidding. Crafting in Witch Spring 3 RE: Fine is not complex at all. Materials are readily available and given how easy it is to beat monsters, you don’t have to give hunting for them much thought.
Overall, there isn’t a lot to enjoy about the gameplay. Everything feels simple, and while there are some parts (later in the game) in which some strategizing is involved, you won’t lose any sleep thinking you will die.
Visuals Low on Vitality
Witch Spring 3 RE:Fine has the visual limitations of a mobile game despite being ported over to the Switch. The character sprites are pretty and the world is colorful, but the maps can feel bland and repetitive (mainly because you are forced to revisit the same areas quite often as Derkarr itself isn’t that big) once you’ve seen enough of them. One positive thing I can say is that some of the animations for Eirudy are super cute. The video of her doing push-ups is what initially drew me to the game and they make use of her love for dolls and overall aesthetic quite well.
One of the other things I can give praise to is the voice acting and music. The score was never too overbearing or offensive, although a bit repetitive for sure. Still, it was a pleasant experience and I lasted quite a while before I had to mute my Switch. Eirudy’s voice acting was also quite cute, although I can’t say I felt the same about Adrian’s voice actor.
Now, for those that have read my reviews before, you know one of my biggest gripes with ported games is usually the localization, specifically the spelling errors that tend to come along with it. Witch Spring 3 RE:Fine suffers HEAVILY from this issue. It is riddled with spelling errors, incomplete phrases, and just overall terrible grammar. This is a Korean game so I understand sometimes translation doesn’t happen seamlessly, but I do wish more care had been put into this part because it is very distracting to experience it as often as I did.
I think this is the first time that I will be suggesting you do not buy a game. There are definitely some good aspects of Witch Spring 3 RE:Fine (it’s cute and, as far as ports go, it’s also not the worst), but they just aren’t enough to justify the $39.99 price tag.
The story moves so fast it’s hard to stay engaged, the characters while charming are not all that unique, the battle system can be fun but will feel repetitive and pointless fairly quickly, and you’ll be plagued with unfinished/misspelled dialogue for what feels like a very long experience. You can find more engaging titles out there for cheaper pricing.
I will end by admitting that despite my harsh criticism of Witch Spring 3 RE:Fine, I am actually quite hopeful for the future of mobile games. While this particular title wasn’t ported over very well, it gives me hope that future games with a bigger budget/team can be brought over and do well.
In conclusion, save your money, or simply buy the mobile version of this game if you’re looking to give it a try. There are some missing events and illustrations, but it’s cheaper and almost exactly the same otherwise.
Review copy provided by ININ games for the Nintendo Switch. Screenshots taken by reviewer.