An urban fantasy filled with witchcraft, guilt, and sex awaits in Jonnymelabo’s “Pact with a Witch“
A common piece of advice you might’ve heard is “don’t stick your dick in crazy,” but maybe you’d reconsider a relationship with a witch if she’d promise that after four dates, she will help your cursed friend? That would the premise of Pact with a Witch, a Ren’Py visual novel made by a Spanish author, Jonnymelabo.
Pact with a Witch starts strong from the beginning, which is something I appreciate a lot. You and your buddy Didac are art students. One day, Didact asks you to be a lookout as he slips to the women’s toilet. One of the girls tends to laugh as his art quite often, so he decided that rape is a proper solution to his issue. Naturally, you stop him and save the girl. Unfortunately, this is just the beginning of your troubles.
Didac becomes cursed. After days of agonizing pain, he starts to turn into a woman. Neus, the girl he tried to rape before, was actually a witch. She can help you turn him back, but there’s a catch: you have to go on a date with her four times, and your friend cannot get pregnant. Doing so will seal his fate of living in a new body.
Pact with a Witch is a narrative-driven visual novel. At the beginning of the game I named the protagonist, something that swiftly lost meaning. 80% of what the main character says is already in the script, and a damn good one at that. The game has choices and plenty of them; however, these choices don’t define his personality. Let’s say they allowed you to rename Geralt in The Witcher series of games; it would ultimately still be Geralt, right? This is a game where you decide the actions of a defined character that falls within their personality, not a game where you decide actions for yourself.
The game’s progression takes place in a rather straightforward manner. There are four dates, two of them in the current release. There are forks along the road through many different decisions. Whatever you choose changes how (and if) the girls like you. Every now and then, the game will check if you meet a certain threshold of affection, at which they’re fine with various things, like being impaled by your cock in a changing booth.
The nature of choice within the game is at its best during dates with Neus. They make up about a third of the game and besides letting us hit on the girl, they are used as the main exposition device for the narrative. The game has no sluggish moments for world building and explanations. You’re merely you and you’re in Barcelone, Spain, but Neus is a witch, and as you talk with her, she will slip occasional explanations or mentions of magic and its ideas. It’s a very well-built urban fantasy that gives us just enough information to establish the existence of magic within the story while holding back enough information so that we can still question it. In a sense, Neus is our medium to see into that world.
Girls in the story are rather well-written as well. They felt realistic enough for me to believe and immerse myself into the storyline. Neus might be a witch, but on a day-to-day basis, she’s a goth-like geek. The shy girl that wants to interact with people, but clearly missed her first chances to learn how so now she’s awkward. She blackmails you into dating her by blackmailing your friend because simply asking for a date seemed stupid to her. I know people who’d think that way. Of course, she’s not just lost. Her different way of understanding human interactions made her into a bit of a pervert. At times, she can be assertive and rather sassy, making her personality rather multi-dimensional.
Didac, your friend, is also an option. After becoming a woman, he (or she) is pretty confused. What is the first thing a man would do after waking up as a woman? Explore their new body, of course, but then what? How curious would he get? How well can he control his new body and its libido? Pact with a Witch dares to explore these questions and do so in a rather organic manner. My reception of Didac was that of a character genuinely lost in his new situation and emotions, at the same time appearing rather vulnerable. Not being sure what and how much of they want, they’re very receptive to what the protagonist will push them towards while at the same time provoking them to make said choices.
The third character, Rubia, has not been explored deeply so far within the previews. Most of all, I had some scripting issues in the currently available beginning to her route. She seems to be a down-to-earth sort of character; a possible future vessel for a more egoistic, “not my problem” option for the player, potentially providing a connection to his actual, mortal life of trying to study art.
Art presentation in the game is good. I was rather scared in the beginning, as the very first sprite of Didac shown is rather terrible; however, it is also dated to the beginning of the game’s development. As the game goes on and ventures into the content of later updates, the quality grows exponentially. Sprites and coloring become more refined as well as occasionally animated. Sadly, backgrounds are mostly just photos of Barcelona.
The game makes a damn good use of its art theme. Of course, Rubia being an artist, has a whole route dedicated to the topic, no less than Neus is about witchcraft and the unusual. Still, the game makes an attempt at joining the two concepts in reference to the uncanny. Neus herself lives inside the Casa Milà, one of the most interesting structures in Barcelona made by Antoni Gaudí. It is my earnest hope that such topics will be explored through the whole game in the future, as they do a damn well job at reinforcing the urban fantasy mythos.
Sound is present, however sparsely it may be. It’s nonetheless used to a rather great effect. Ambient sounds and sometimes music tracks are placed at the most emotional or uncanny of times, building the atmosphere. Though the moaning sounds could use a little work, few as there are.
As for the game’s pornographic potential, it’s there and rather well-spaced out. So far I can attest to two of the girls being rather willing and interested. The game opens with a prevented rape scene and later tends to focus on exhibition, or at least ninja play.
The game doesn’t tend to sacrifice anything for sex and wants to keep it special. Porn scenes are present and aplenty, but don’t go too far. There’s a lot of teasing, a lot of invitations, and a lot of fun, but very little in terms of an actual intercourse. Still, within the game’s potential 4-day narrative, there’s plenty of action among the various happenings. Each event usually has some sort of sexual play that fits into the given part of the plot.
Visually, the female anatomy is in center stage and sometimes even animated, though that’s not a focus of the game. On the other hand, the protagonist doesn’t show up in the scenes too often and merely has an okay-looking, oversized dong. It’s proving difficult to point out what exactly was my issue with the male portrayal. The muscles seem properly placed, yet the overall quality of the illustration feels noticeably lower than that of the women.
I had an overall good time with “Pact with a Witch”. It sold me on the characters and its urban fantasy premise. Yes, the art is pretty decent for an early preview build, but it’s the writing that takes the cake. Everything from the plot, through the behaviors, and up to the sex scenes just sort of clicks together and works damn well. I’m eager to see what Jonnymelabo will include in the game’s future updates.
If you yourself became interested in Pact with a Witch, you can download a public preview from the game’s itch.io page. You can support Jonnymelabo and his project over at Patreon. A $10 USD donation will grant you access to the game’s newest version, which includes a rather buggy look into the beginning’s of Rubia’s storyline.