Witchcraft simulator REKA has everything I could ever want as a witch's apprentice, like mushroom foraging, an army of crows, and oh yeah—a customisable chicken-legged cabin

Reka - a witch in a nighttime woods walks towards a cottage with chicken legs
(Image credit: Emberstorm)

I'm not a stranger to folklore-inspired games, so it's no surprise to anyone that REKA is a stand-out on my radar of anticipated releases. With the promise to build and customise your own chicken-legged hut and take on a new life as a witch's apprentice, it didn't take much more for me to throw myself into the demo of REKA and pine for more once it was over. 

As soon as I entered character customisation I felt like REKA was something special. The options are pretty limited, but there's enough to work with to help make the experience more personal. Obviously, I utilized this opportunity to model my character after myself to fulfill my lifelong dream of becoming a little witch, and before I knew it I was whisked into the woods and left to my own devices. From here, REKA cleverly builds its world around you with no obvious route, making it feel incredibly open. But it gently guides you in the right direction without feeling restrictive. 

There are several NPCs in the first town that set you very simple challenges to help you get used to controls, such as carting pumpkins from a field into a barn or finding a lost lamb and returning it to the flock. You don't need to complete these quests to progress to the next part of the demo, but if you're like me and want to make the very most of the experience, then they're worth doing just so you can spend a little more time exploring. After this small starting area, it's onto the main challenge of trekking through the woods and finding a very old—and slightly unsettling—witch to begin constructing your hut. 

All the errands you're asked to complete during the demo revolve around collecting items or moving things from one place to another. Usually, I'd get pretty bored of this repetition, but REKA offers enough variety to prevent its simple fetch quests from becoming stagnant. What I love most about these missions is how you never know the outcome. With the characters you meet in the first village, you get thanks and a few items like mushrooms or bread, but once you dip your toe into the world of witchcraft you don't know what the result of your actions will be. 

For example, one of the tasks I was set was to pick my favourite chicken from the old witch's garden and bring it to her. But, rather than being rewarded with an item I was given the next step, placing the chicken into the nest under the oven. And my reward for completing that was helping my new cabin sprout some legs. Because of this, I don't expect things like a bag of coins as a reward in REKA and instead expect some inanimate object to spring to life. 

To make things easier, foraging is a breeze. Rather than having to walk up to the items you need and hand-pick, you send out a murder of crows to collect things for you. This is a dream come true for me as an avid bird lover and, more impressively, not something I've seen in the majority of witch-based or folklore-inspired games. So, as any sane person would, I spent a lot of time firing my crows into the open space of the woodland just for the sake of seeing them fly about. 

However, my feelings about foraging are capped by what the demo offers. Which I assume is just a tutorial, and the items you'll need for potions and rituals once the game releases in full will become more challenging to track down, meaning you'll have to venture off the beaten path to find them. After all, if you could easily conjure up a spell, it would strip away some of the magic of doing the legwork yourself. It's also fortunate that the woods of REKA have secrets tucked away—such as cheeky spirits that offer goods in exchange for berries—that keep you on your toes. 

REKA is the first game in a while where I've felt genuinely gutted once the 'thanks for playing our demo' screen popped up. I felt like I was getting into the rhythm of things once my hut was built and on the move, but obviously, all good things must come to an end. Even though it's only a couple of months until the game releases, time can't pass fast enough and I am ticking the days off my calendar until I can complete rituals and become the best apprentice Baba Jaga has ever had. 

Kara Phillips
Evergreen Writer

Kara is an evergreen writer. Having spent three years as a games journalist guiding, reviewing, or generally waffling about the weird and wonderful, she’s more than happy to tell you all about which obscure indie games she’s managed to sink hours into this week. When she’s not raising a dodo army in Ark: Survival Evolved or taking huge losses in Tekken, you’ll find her helplessly trawling the internet for the next best birdwatching game because who wants to step outside and experience the real thing when you can so easily do it from the comfort of your living room. Right?