Sofiya and the Ancient Clan Review: From Good Witch to Bad Witch in No Time Flat
I truly had no idea what to expect from Sofiya and the Ancient Clan before I took a gamble on reviewing it. All I knew was that it featured attractive pixelated graphics and looked like it took inspiration from classic platformers. The premise of the game, though simple, also seemed appealing. It’s about a world with dual magical clans, mystery and a young witch named Sofiya searching for answers. Unfortunately, while there are several things the game does reasonably well, overall it was a forgettable experience. Keep reading our Sofiya and the Ancient Clan review to see what it got wrong and what it got right.
Where It Started…
Sofiya and the Ancient Clan takes place across 3 chapters. Each chapter has at least 15 individual levels, culminating in a boss battle. So even though 3 chapters might not sound like a lot, they pad a surprising amount of content into this adventure. Most of the game is centered around platforming, with helpful techniques like the double jump doing a lot of heavy lifting. Besides that, Sofiya can check out her surroundings and sling spells at foes, though with a proviso. Your standard spell attack costs about 15 MP, and it takes time for your meter to replenish itself. Since the meter only goes to 100 MP, that means that you can only fire off so many rapid fire attacks before you have to go running for cover while the meter refills. The only factor that diminishes this annoyance is most enemies drop vials when defeated. Red vials heal you, while blue vials refill your magic meter faster.
Eventually, Sofiya will acquire secondary spells that don’t cost MP to cast, but which instead have limited uses. The good news is, these are really helpful and you can also replenish your store of secondary spells by picking more of them up. The bad news is, after getting the first one, at some undisclosed point I apparently got other secondary spells. The problem is the game never explained how to switch between your secondary spells, and I had to learn it on the fly by pressing random buttons. Secondary spells are split into three options – a 3-way spread shot, a massive pulse that pierces through foes and a ball of energy you toss which explodes after a few seconds.
Though the basic controls for the game aren’t egregiously bad, they’re also really, really basic. Sofiya’s main attack spell is slow moving, and only travels so far. Worse, if it hits an enemy projectile, they’ll cancel each other out. More annoying is the actual platforming. If it weren’t for the double jump, this game would be pretty unplayable. Sofiya often gets stuck on stage geometry, and I’ve even had her wall jump as a result, which isn’t supposed to be possible. Most levels require wandering around aimlessly finding globes of magic to activate, which then create platforms.
By far the worst element of the game are the basic enemies. They don’t even actively try to attack you for the most part. Many just meander back and forth on a set track of ground, and don’t even swing their weapons at you. The exception to that are the flying foes, which actively hound you, as well as foes that spit projectiles at Sofiya with unerring aim.
At best, the platforming is boring, though the developers try and compensate for that with lots of instant death traps. Every single level in the game has spike pits galore, though some large spikes also plunge at you from the ceiling and floors. While I didn’t die too many times, each death was a frustration, since checkpoints mostly exist at the beginning of stages. Honestly there needed to be more robust and frequent checkpoints, or shorter levels. Without that, it really forced players not to make any mistakes, and punished them overly whenever they occurred.
Don’t Get On Her Bad Side
Sofiya’s one shining spot are the boss fights. Again, these aren’t anything groundbreaking or amazing, but they’re also a hell of a lot more interesting than the basic enemies. There’s only three bosses in the entire game, but they all fight differently and force you to stay on your toes. The first is a blue phoenix that flies about hurling waves of projectiles at you. The second is a grim reaper that digs up spirits to battle you and assaults you with flying skulls. The final boss was actually surprisingly fun. He’ll summon spikes to fall from the ceiling, hurl fireballs at you and even light the field of battle aflame. My only real complaint about the bosses was that there weren’t more of them.
Shiny Little Spellcaster
Visually, Sofiya and the Ancient Clan is still pretty satisfying, at least to fans of pixel art. Each chapter’s levels have unique visual aesthetics, from rolling hills to eerie graveyards and derelict shrines. The enemies are also pretty distinct, even though they lack much flair. The high point of the game’s visual design are the gallery entries you’ll find hidden in levels. At first they seem to chronicle Sofiya’s adventure, but then quickly jump the shark and get extraordinarily horny. Later on you’ll find Sofiya in what appears to be carnal acts for no apparent reason. My only complaint about these is that they do nothing to enhance the plot or make the game more interesting. They’re just a curiosity that I really didn’t expect from an old school platformer. That said, the one area the game does shockingly well was in the musical department. There’s several great tracks that flooded me with Gothic joy, and even reminded me fondly of some classics from the NES and SNES era. It’s just a shame that the art and music didn’t come together coherently to make a much better experience.
Where it Ended…
Despite what I’ve already covered, there’s other areas where Sofiya and the Ancient Clan fell short. One was just in the odd decision to make it so Sofiya doesn’t automatically pick up dropped items which disappear very quickly. I only stumbled onto needing to press down to pick up vials, which was far from intuitive. And though I covered the platforming already, I can’t express enough how mediocre it truly was. As a longtime platformer fan, I made it work, but many won’t have as much patience. Combined with the obnoxious instant death traps and boring combat, you have a hot mess of an adventure.
No Magic Spell Will Save This Game
I was really hoping for more from Sofiya and the Ancient Clan. While it wasn’t all bad, it’s still a disappointing platformer with boring combat to boot. Sure, the artwork is fine, even Sofiya’s amorous journal entries. It just doesn’t do enough to make this a better game, despite the surprisingly enjoyable music. If you like platformers and want something inexpensive, you might enjoy this. If nothing else, it’s a very short burn that can be completed in a lazy afternoon. For everyone else, stay away from this absurd little witch.
Final Verdict: 1.5/5
Available on: Nintendo Switch (reviewed), PS4, PS5; Publisher: eastasiasoft; Developer: Hentai Room; Players: 1; Released: August 5, 2022; ESRB: Mature 17+ – Blood, Violence, Strong Language, Sexual Content, Nudit; MSRP: $7.99
Editor’s note: The publisher provided a review copy to Hey Poor Player.