The Five Covens tries really hard to be a good game. Some nice platforming ideas combined with a few puzzle mechanics and on paper, The Five Covens ticks a lot of boxes. In practice, it doesn’t quite stick the landing.
I found it hard to start this review, mainly because I don’t want to sound too harsh. The Five Covens has its flaws, sure, but it does have some good ideas – but that’s not its greatest problem.
The Five Covens was designed and developed over five months as part of a University project, and it shows. The game is currently listed on the PSN Store for £9.99, and for that price, there are far better, longer-lasting games out there that offer much greater value for money without the janky experience.
You play as a witch named Brenda who has been imprisoned after being tricked into attending a meeting of The Five Covens. Spoiler – there was no meeting, it was a trick by the game’s big baddy. This is the game’s set up; you quickly escape your cell with the help of a friendly crow and then you set off to escape and seek justice for your wrongful imprisonment.
It’s is easy to see what The Five Covens is trying to achieve. There are some basic platforming sections, a few environmental puzzles, and an interesting section that has you mixing potions – a highlight of the game that should have been used more.
Instead, platforming is the foundation The Five Covens has built its house on, and it’s a very weak foundation. Clunky controls mean that platforming is way harder than it should be, with jumps often being missed or difficult to judge because of awkward angles. It doesn’t help that the camera is downright awful at times, often clipping into objects.
As you work your way through the games seven levels, you unlock a few spells. One of these is the ability to slow time, which does make the platforming sections a little less frustrating, but you get this ability after the second level. The second level is without a doubt the hardest section in the game. It’s where I died the most, even though all you have to do is jump from one moving platform to another. The time-slowing spell would have been best used here – a level where it would have actually helped – rather than later in the game.
Alongside the aforementioned ability to slow time, as a witch, you have a few other tricks up your sleeve. From the beginning of the game, you are able to push and pull objects with your wand, or even throw them over distances. This ability is used to solve the vast majority of the puzzles in the game and sometimes it’s even used quite imaginatively. For the most part, it’s simply used to activate switches or to move crates to reach other areas.
Rounding out the list of spells is a defensive shield that can be cast to prevent damage. A standard enough addition to round out any self-respecting witch’s repertoire, no doubt, but other than the boss fight where it’s essential to use it, I found I didn’t need it at all for the rest of the game. The only damage I was likely to receive was fall damage when missing a jump, and I discovered early on that the shield doesn’t do diddly squat to defend against this. The few enemies encountered in the game are slow and easy to overcome, so the shield is more or less useless until the final battle.
Finally, a note about length. The Five Covens is one of the shortest games I have ever reviewed. It knows it too, as there is a trophy for finishing the game in under 30 minutes – I got this on my first playthrough without even trying. So short is The Five Covens that I then set myself a challenge, and the footage I used for this review is taken from the 20 minutes it took me to finish the game from beginning to end. To be clear, I am no speedrunner and in fairness to the game, this footage was taken from my third (and final) play through, but that was largely due to the fact I had one last trophy to pop that required me to complete the game without taking a hit.
That being said, The Five Covens is an extremely easy Platinum that can be collected in no less than two playthroughs, so if trophy hunting is your thing and you have a tenner to spare, The Five Covens should definitely be on your to-do list.
If The Five Covens had been developed by an experienced developer with more time and money, it could well have been a great platformer. But it wasn’t, and it’s obvious. Hopefully, RB Games gets another crack at it as there are some solid ideas in The Five Covens, but as it currently is, it’s one to avoid (unless you’re a trophy freak…)
The Five Covens PS4/PS5
Overall - Bad - 4/10
The Five Covens has got to be given marks for trying. Developed over five months as part of a University project, The Five Covens is an impressive achievement, but it’s just not up to standard against other games at a similar price point.
- Great visual style that is charming and cartoony
- An easy Platinum trophy
- Clunky controls make platform sections tricky
- Annoying camera
- Short campaign
Review Disclaimer: This review was carried out using a copy of the game provided by the publisher. For more information, please read our Review Policy.
Reviewed using PS5, PS4.