It’s not easy to sit down and make a list of memorable witches in videogames, because magic is by far the most common weapon or ability given to female characters in particular, especially in RPGs. Depending on how loosely you’re willing to define the term “witch” you can have a dozen Final Fantasy heroines elbowing WWE Immortals’ version of Trish Stratus for a prime place. On the other hand, you could narrow that down and only pick characters explicitly referred to as witches—but then where does that leave all the hard working sorceresses out there? Unrecognized and unlauded in the prestigious world of Halloween-themed game lists, that’s where, and we sure can’t have that, now, can we? So, in no specific order, here are the best witches in videogame history.
Gruntilda is the quintessential cartoon witch. She’s got the matronly physique, pointy features, green warty skin and subpar oral hygiene regime you’d expect, with her bright purple scarf offering the only real variation from standard form. She’s the little black dress of witches, versatile but a little bit too predictable. And then she gets a robot body, at which point all accusations of Grunty being “predictable” kind of go out the window.
When you look into the topic of witches in gaming you’re going to find a lot of sexy ladies. I mean a lot. Almost exclusively. And then there’s Vicky, the doe-eyed ultra-cute protagonist of the very low-key Nintendo DS RPG Witch’s Wish. Vicky wants to be a witch, but unlike the Potterverse where magical schooling is offered based on ability, the magic academies in Vicky’s world are reserved for families wealthy enough to pay the tuition. This game might not be the brutal takedown of privately funded witching education that I wish it was, but Vicky’s an absolute sweetheart character regardless.
Okay, can you look me in the eye and seriously tell me that Maxwell doesn’t qualify as a witch on some level? I mean change the word “notebook” to “grimoire” and there’s really no argument to be had. Think about it.
I don’t know that it’s possible to explain the premise of the Umineko series well in a sentence or two, but the most important thing to know is that Beatrice starts out as an antagonist trying to convince the main character that the massacre he died in could only have been committed with the help of magic. He doesn’t believe in witches, and she very much wants to change that as an alleged witch herself. Also, she has man-eating goat butlers. And the goat butlers come from the internet. And… There’s a lot going on here.
If Vicky’s heart appeals to you but the relative simplicity of Witch’s Wish doesn’t, Lillet Blan could be considered a step up. She’s another absolutely adorable witch looking to improve her lot in life (not to mention her family’s) and that naturally leads her into adventure. Because that’s how fantasy stories work, right? Now Lillet’s not the only witch of interest in GrimGrimoire; the game’s packed with beautifully designed witches with incomparably fancy names. There’s Lillet of course, her friend Margarita Suprise, admirer Amoretta Virgine, necromancy professor Opalnaria Rain, not to mention the many well-dressed witch boys and one well-dressed lion man.
Lidell might seem like an acquired taste, much in the same vein as the princess protagonist from another DS title, My World, My Way. Her brazen confidence and attitude can make her seem spoiled and unlikable, an arrogant little busybody determined to be the very best at everything she does. A lot can be said about the way we’ve learned to read the characters of confident and assertive teenage girls, but the fact is that Lidell is still more likable than all the gruff and dudely antiheroes we put up with elsewhere. She’s confident, competent, motivated, and fundamentally a good person… Even if she dials the sass factor up to 11 from time to time.
Considering how Morrigan swept in and stole some of Vivienne’s thunder in the Orlesian court, it’s somewhat appropriate that she get a place on this list that many would argue Morrigan is due instead. Morrigan is a fascinating character and an excellent witch without a doubt, but Vivienne is a very different creature. She casts spells with her social graces as much as with her mana pool, and every single pore of her oozes strategy and control. She’s unflappable in combat and in conversation, and even if she could stand to be a little nicer to her allies from time to time, she is the epitome of cool-headed control.
Wilbell might be the cutest witch I’ve run into in a game in recent memory. She’s playful, spirited, helpful, and like most characters in theAtelier series she’s dressed beautifully. She’s always trying to earn some money on the side, ideally for doing as little work as possible, and she’s endearingly terrible at flying on her broom. Another endearing thing about Wilbell? The way groovy, vaguely 60s pop music plays while she throws glyphs around and summons a meteor to crush her enemies for her finishing move in combat. Wilbell appears in several of the most recent Atelier games, including Atelier Ayesha, Atelier Esha & Logy, and Atelier Shallie, which means that if you love her as much as I do it’s pretty easy to find her within the series.
Unsurprisingly, The Witcher has a lot of interesting witches to choose from, but really there are only two that bear consideration. Triss or Yennefer, Yennefer or Triss… That choice was weighing on a lot of peoples’ minds earlier this year, and weighed on me just as heavily when making this list. Triss seems a lot more down-to-earth than Yennefer and that has its appeal, but then again there’s a lot to be said for someone being as calm and in charge of their own shit to the degree that Yenn is. Also, the bold black and white color motif for her outfits and signature scent make Yenn a woman who is entirely on top of her image, too… Which you probably have to be when you’re using magical glamours to keep yourself looking young and fresh at a hundred or so years old. Then again Triss isn’t afraid of wearing a little real color which makes her look a bit less severe than her romantic rival. Tough call, Geralt, tough call.
Bayonetta’s incredibly over-the-top sexuality has made her a divisive character in gaming, but no matter how you feel about her it’s hard to ignore the fact that’s she’s one of the absolute coolest witches out there. Her moves are red hot, her accessorizing is on point, she’s powerful and suave and not since Sindel (or possibly Gourgeist) has anyone wielded their hair as such an effective weapon. Also, I’m not sure what having pistols built into your high heels has to do with witchcraft, but I absolutely want to give a pair to Gruntilda just to see what happens.
Janine Hawkins is a games writer based in sunny Canada. You can find her written and video work on HealerArcherMage.com or follow her on Twitter @bleatingheart.