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The time between early June and the end of August is sacred to those who long for a break from the daily routine of school. No tests will challenge you. No homework will harry you while you enjoy carefree hours spent in the pursuit of fun. As these lazy August days of leisure draw nearer to a close, we want to capture all those great summery feelings one last time before having to go back to school. What better way than to dive into a game all about going to summer camp? Better yet, how about if that summer camp is full of mystery and adventure?
Best of all: What if you got to be a witch?
Camp W, by Psyop, is all about a witch named either Liliandra or Lysander (you get to decide who you want to play). This summer, like every one before it, Li or Ly have just finished school only to face down a few months of studying and working for their mother instead of joining all of their friends at camp. It’s never fun to feel left out and our intrepid teen-witch recoils at the thought of another wasted summer.
Fortunately the universe (with a heavy dose of help from grandma) turns things upside down and grants Li/Ly their wish to go to camp by opening a portal to the human realm right outside…wait for it…Camp Whupiwitchi! Sure, its a camp for humans, but that won’t stop Li/Ly from having an amazing summer making friends, solving mysteries, and learning more about witchcraft than they ever have before!
Yes, your familiar is a squirrel named Nugget who has the power to become an inter-dimensional cellphone.
Camp W is a choose-your-own-adventure style visual novel. Each choice you make uncovers new plot points and changes how you experience the story. That said, there are some questions that are unanswered by the end of the game. According to Alexei Bochenek, Narrative Director/Writer, this was done on purpose.
My hope is that the game finds a large enough audience to warrant a sequel, or even an ongoing episodic approach that continues to grow over time, like a television show. That would give us a chance to not only answer those lingering questions, but also dive deeper into the story of each character. However, I do like a bit of mystery and wanted to leave room for people to wonder and guess about some of the connections between characters and events that aren’t specifically laid out. …This game takes place over the first three days of summer, but those three days could never contain the entirety of the story of these characters or everything there is to know about the Witching and Human Realms. As both the player and the protagonist of the game, I hope you will finish your first three days of Camp W feeling fulfilled, but also wanting more.
Camp W has a hand-drawn style that feels like something out of a cartoon and apparently that’s how the game first started. Creative Director Kelly Shay built the original idea as a pitch for an animated series. She told us:
The possibilities of what could make that story and who would be a part of it could go a lot of different ways. But for me, the inspiration came from asking myself what I wanted to share with the world. It started with me thinking about my own childhood of being a kid that moved from one school to another, that often felt odd and different (as I believe we all do) and learned to (and still is learning to) accept and enjoy all of those differences. That without them, things really would be boring.
From that came an inviting, quirky, colorful, mysterious and yet warm art style that makes you smile, and an experience that would make people want to go to this magical place. I wanted to spark in people the feelings of curiosity and playfulness and acceptance and strength. With the goal that anyone could find pieces they related to somewhere in it. I wanted to make people feel good about who they are. Who they genuinely are. That they don’t need to hide, and that their choices do matter. I believe that that is a really powerful thing which could be scary, but is so exciting.
While a cartoon based on the idea of a witch going to summer camp would have been amazing, unfortunately, it didn’t quite find a home with traditional TV networks. Undeterred, Alexei didn’t want to let this great idea vanish. Instead, he turned his idea for the narrative into a script for what would become the videogame. Camp W is actually a really short game, but that’s good thing, as there are a lot of branching paths to explore and you cannot befriend everyone nor uncover all of the secrets hiding in this summer camp in just a single playthrough. You’ll get to play the game several times to unlock everything and it will take some really inventive thinking to unlock the secret ending.
According to Alexei:
You’ll need to cozy up to a non-camper character who has a bigger role in the universe of Camp W than they may let on. There are also a number of secrets hidden in the art and story of the game. For example, you don’t use your grandmother’s full name often, referring to her instead as Gadgy. But her full name is spoken, and then later in the game it also shows up on some of the collectible items, which might lead you to reconsider some of the things you have heard characters say in other scenes. I would encourage anyone who enjoys the game to speculate wildly on how things might be connected — the more ridiculous the theory, the more likely it is to be correct!
Camp W is a surprisingly heartfelt game with an upbeat feel that will bring you right back to those halcyon days spent making crafts, playing dodgeball, and telling spooky stories around a campfire. Keep a little of that summertime magic with you as we head back into the school season by checking out the game on Steam here or visiting the Camp W website at www.campwgame.com.
Which spells would you want to cast at camp? A speed spell to help you win flag football? Perhaps a fire spell that can roast marshmallows in an instant? Let us know in the comments below and be sure to tune into Game Engine on Twitch and Alpha for more video game goodness every Tuesday starting at 4PM PT.
WANT MORE CAMPING GOODNESS?
- These Girls Went to D&D Summer Camp -And You Can Try It At Home
- Weekend Warrior (Or Wizard): Tips to Survive a Camper LARP
- Summer Camp Meets Wizard LARP for Teens At Providence Preparatory Academy
Hailing from New York, Jessica Fisher is a writer, artist, and all around geek. In addition to Geek & Sundry, she writes for Gameosity.com and produces the Gameosity Reviews Youtube Channel. Find her talking about all things geeky on Twitter as @miniktty.
Image Credits: Psyop