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Hands-on with "Blair Witch" survival horror game

Players take on the role of Ellis, an ex-cop escorted by the dog named Bullet, looking for a boy who has disappeared into the infamous Black Hills forest. Bullet is not just for camaraderie. He also plays an important role in shaping the story and gameplay of Blair Witch because he can be commanded to stay, seek, and to be bred, and to be rebuked and fed with tidbits.

his own, even if she is not instructed to help out. His bark indicates there is a hint or interaction nearby, while his throaty growling and bared teeth mean something worse is lurking nearby. But what impresses most is how authentic he feels. Bullet's body and facial animations are incredibly realistic, while his presence feels more organic than a game mechanic's.

Bullet is not the only clever inclusion. The new, original story of the game takes place in 1

996 – two years after the characters of the first film were missing out of Burkittsville, Md., Disappeared. Given the period, players have access to a sweet, decades-long technology. In addition to a Nokia-like old-school phone Ellis uses an 8-mm camcorder, with the tapes discovered during the game can be played.

In addition to some disturbing "found footage," the tapes can be manipulated to change the world around you. An example from the demo was breaking a locked door by pausing a video that contained footage of the same leaning door. The device can also be used in night vision mode, providing additional lighting and the ability to capture clues that might otherwise not be visible.

While there was not nearly enough time left in the game for about 30 minutes, these promising systems highlighted the potential that Bullet and the camcorder could bring to the story, as well as the way they did it navigated and consumed.

The demo took a longer look at Blair Witch and some of the secrets and fears it contained. The preview was mostly deep in the forest, but the nuanced visual presentation provided more than just dirt roads and pretty foliage. The hunt for Bullet through a swamp, climbing an old railroad car, and the cautious search for enough run-down interiors to fill one night's nightmares filled much of the playthrough. However, it was not only different environments, but also the many details in these areas that attracted attention. The reflection of the treetops on the forest floor and the way Mother Nature had aggressively overtaken the railroad tracks were highlights.

Of course, watching the sights for too long may leave you at the wrong end of an ancient curse. While the demo was moodier and more atmospheric than the frightening one, it offered enough potential to cause some goose bumps. Encountering a shadowy creature in the woods was a bit too fast and chaotic to be really scary, but as Ellis and Bullet twisted and twisted the forest from an unknown threat, they were definitely all pushing a little closer to the edge of their seats ,

Blair Witch is also peppered with the series's creepy business cards, from mysterious, wood-carved talismans to walls covered with tiny handprints. It's also a typewriter text message that says "… a man wearing the skin of a skinned human."

Although it was only a short detour in the Black Hills, the polished presentation and soaked atmosphere will make you eager to return to the forest. Real horrors were limited, but Blair Witch is likely to be more scared when he invites players to the mysterious outskirts of Burkittsville on August 30.

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