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The Witcher

aka: Wiedźmin, Wushi, Zaklínač
Moby ID: 30752

Critic Reviews add missing review

Average score: 85% (based on 74 ratings)

Player Reviews

Average score: 4.1 out of 5 (based on 110 ratings with 5 reviews)

A grain of truth

The Good
It took me some time to write a proper review for The Witcher. At first I tried to focus on the significance this game has, on the fascination I experienced about the fact that unknown Polish developer has managed to challenge the established leaders of the genre and even surpass them in some areas. I wanted you to see the game’s utmost importance, to fill you with resonance, I am certain, The Witcher should have in the gaming community. Yet, in the end, I overlooked one of the most important things I have to say about this game.

Just, what exactly it means to me, personally? If you will, I’ll start precisely with that.

The Witcher helped me to realize what my gaming preferences are. I have been playing for over sixteen years, I’ve completed hundreds of different games, but I’ve never really managed to say properly what fascinates me the most about games, what my exact tastes and preferences are.

Now I can tell you. Here they are, on one DVD worth of data.

What separates The Witcher from many other games of many different genres is that it’s a game that has something to say to us and that it uses every aspect of it to communicate that message. Everything, including graphics, sound, gameplay, non-linearity, dialogs and even combat is there for a reason, besides simply “for the fun of it”. The game is a major step in the most interesting of the directions the games are facing. It makes you a better person and it shows you the reason for the things and people around you to exist. The Witcher makes bold moves and takes huge risks, yet succeeds in all of them.

When playing The Witcher, I have often been confronted with a certain peculiar feeling. It’s rather hard to describe. I have to say, that I was sure I was witnessing the ultimate truth about nearly everything. “Here it is! That’s the truth.” I wanted to exclaim on numerous occasions. Partly that can be attributed to the excellent source material, series of short stories and novels written by a brilliant Polish writer -- Andrzej Sapkowski. He managed to portray an extremely faulted and corrupted world, maybe even more faulted than the one you and I live in, and then, through the eyes of Geralt, a monster hunter, he uncovered every vice, every despicable thing and person in such world, and pointed at them with his finger, asking you, if you are any better.

The game is shaped in exactly the same vein. Be prepared to be subjected to the issues, you weren’t even considering. The Witcher has commented on many different things, including terrorism, love, friendship, greed, power, loyalty, destiny, prostitution, alcoholism, drugs, life, death, fear, prejudices, racism, faith and even more. Its quire remarkable, that with such a large scope of topics covered, the game has managed to remain coherent in its story and general theme.

But what’s even more important, is that, being a game, The Witcher allows you to engage into a discussion with it. It opens up a dialog with a player trying to anticipate any response he might have. You have your say in every controversial topic the game presents. Express your will through your actions and see the world around you respond to your decisions. Trust me, the result will not only surprise, but will have you reconsider your decision in the first place. The game doesn’t try to impose its message upon you in an intruding fashion. It poses a problem, asks for your opinion and presents you with a consequence, which is bound to make a better person out of you, more considerate in your actions, more thoughtful in your decisions, and most importantly -- less indifferent and apathetic. This is a goal a true piece of art is destined for.

Another thing that fascinates me about The Witcher, is that it applies all that choice & consequences stuff one of the most beautiful shapes of a game I have ever had the pleasure of seeing. More so, it takes advantage of its visuals and sounds to support the claims the game make in the ideology department. It’s not very convincing to see a packed, asphyxiating life of a big city, full of different races and class segregation without all the marvelous art CD Projekt RED has powered their game with. The same goes for the serene atmosphere of the Murky Waters village, the rural image of which, painted in pastel tones, provides an excellent background to the peaceful and seclusive life of the village, making it even more shocking for you to unwillingly bring despair and the politics of the “big world” into it. Every character, every location is blooming with detail and shows a great talent put in it.

And as I said, the fact that this beauty works for a cause, elevates it infinitely higher than anything you might see in a Final Fantasy game, where unfortunately, the beauty exists only for a beauty’s sake.

The whole previous paragraph may be repeated in regard to the music as well. The Witcher features the most diverse and thought-out soundtrack. Be it an aggressive combat tune, or a small interlude presenting a new location, the music of Pawel Blaszczak and Adam Skorupa is jam-packed with life and spark so often absent in the generic fantasy tracks of even the most talented of game composers. And once again, its not the quality of the music itself that strikes me the most, but the undeniable bond that ties the music to the environment and the story it backdrops. A game composer, as a movie composer, isn’t as free in his creativity as your average musician is. He has to reflect and extend upon the things being witnessed in the game, by his music, highlighting the elements and things worthy of additional attention. That’s how it is in The Witcher, and that’s how it must be done, period.

But many games prior to The Witcher’s release had excellent music, thought-provoking story and artistically ambitious graphics. What separates this particular game from the likes of Fallout, Baldur’s Gate 2 or Planescape: Torment? A distinct difference between those games and The Witcher lies in the fact, that unlike those games, The Witcher has finally come in terms with its gameplay mechanics. I wasn’t among the crowd who was impressed with Baldur’s Gate appliance of AD&D rules; I didn’t see how dice-driven combat, even if tactically flexible, emphasized the overall theme of the game. I don’t think a good game is made of a turn-based, Fallout-type of combat either. Both of those variants were fun, but they didn’t carry a message with them. There was no point to those battles, except for refreshing a rather thrill-less formula of dialog-driven gameplay. Planescape: Torment has tried to approach that problem, but resulted in a very uneven mix, in which the starting portions of the game were dedicated to talking and exploring, while the later were totally given way to the spectacular but unnecessary fighting.

The Witcher closes its eyes on its competitors. It does away with all the save rolls, +3 artifacts, or unnecessary augment effects. It eliminates the plague of modern RPGs, known as “phat loot” syndrome, which although might be engaging on its own, hardly brings any additional facet to the idea the game is conveying. Secondly, the game makes a huge emphasis on knowledge gathering, rather on application of that knowledge. Alchemy, combat, item management – every aspect of gameplay requires to be researched first. The bigger part of the gameplay is devoted to analyzing and making choice rather than implementing it. And during that process, the player unwillingly learns about the gameworld he plays in, he begins to understand it better through the series of his own experiences. That creates an additional level of depth, only a video game is capable of.

Take a look at the game’s bestiary, for example. Unlike any other fantasy novel/game/movie you have seen, the monsters roaming the land are not an evil threat from far-away lands guided by a mysterious, yet inevitably evil force. The monsters in The Witcher are the products of a man himself. In the fashion of Shakespearean Hamlet, Sapkowski takes use of the supernatural elements in his stories, only if they will serve a necessary dramatic function. Just like in Hamlet, a man-devouring plant grows in backyard, because “a murder most foul and unnatural” has taken place there, and not without a help of this backyard’s owner.

A character in the game suggests that every monster you encounter is a personification of each of the man’s vices. An image of war, for example, wouldn’t be so astonishing in The Witcher, if not for a dozen of Graveirs attracted to the battlefield by a smell of rotting corpse. So all the supernatural elements used in game are designed to emphasize the most horrific of the humanity’s acts, which I find impossible to call “natural”.

I must stop there, because the length of this review has already exceeded any levels of decency and respect for the reader. But there’s so much I haven’t tell you about this game yet. The brilliant writing, borrowing its style directly from the books, tragic characters, a deep and dark (but not morbid) sense of humor, luxurious and most importantly unintrusive cutscenes, lots of fascinating “character moments” and even dozens of eastern eggs, a careful eye will take a pleasure of finding.

Well, I guess, these are things you will have to discover on your own.

The Bad
I would hardly grant myself a liberty of nit-picking a game that took so much effort and colossal dedication to make. So, it isn't exactly your average Mobygames bad section, but a certain set of wishes for CDProjekt RED plans for the future.

Wish number one. However excellent the story presented in the game is, I can’t brush off the feeling that the game relies on its source material a bit too heavily. Don’t misunderstand me, you most certainly is under no obligation to read any of the Sapkowski’s books to enjoy the game. It’s just that the game doesn’t introduce any elements or themes, which haven’t been seen in the novels before. The Witcher is certainly no Knights Of the Old Republic, when it comes to extending upon the existing franchises and universes. I wish, that in the next installment of The Witcher, (which is inevitable, at least judging by the outro) the developers would try to take some liberties and expand themes and images we have already a very good knowledge of.

Wish number two. I don’t think there’s much difference if the game requires you to click every time you make a hit, once in a while or only once. It’s making battles meaningful what’s important. So, I don’t think that completely revamping the game’s combat system was called for. I could’ve easily been satisfied with a Diablo clickfest, as long as there’s an idea or a message being conveyed through those clicks. So, please, CDProjekt, instead of spending sleepless night trying to come up with combat that will satisfy any obsessed Oblivion hater out there, try to extend on the idea of meaningfulness and reason for those combat scenes to exist in the first place.

Wish number three. I hope CDPR will make enough money of The Witcher, to solidify its position as a king of the modern age RPG. So far, it was an extremely good shot, but it’s too early to say, if it was by chance or by the providence.

Wish number four. I hope next time CDProjekt will be allowed to have a personal control over all the localized versions of the game. That kind of high quality stuff should not be brought down by a short-sighted and greedy publisher. Atari, don’t take a promising developer to a grave with you.

The Bottom Line
Talent: 5/5

I have numerously said, while giving away a high score for talent that a developer has been touched by God. Well, I fear, this is not the case. The talent of CDProjekt is so strong, that I believe a much shadier deal has taken place. I hope you’ll manage to buy your souls back, CDProjekt!

Ambition: 5/5

A first project by an unknown studio, tasked to rival the best of the best of all the time. Trust me; it doesn’t get more ambitious than that.

Pteity (Pushing The Envelope - ity): 5/5

The game takes significant and bold steps in reinventing not only the Action or RPG genre, but the gaming itself.

Effort: 5/5

Be it music, graphics, style or writing the team behind the game goes great lengths to be impressive. They resent a notion that a game with a good story shouldn’t have excellent graphics, or thought-out sound. It’s the philosophy of professionalism on every level. And such kind of professionalism requires a life-consuming dedication from a person. With no experience behind their backs, it’s only through the hard work, The Witcher came to be what it is.

Adequacy: 6/5

Well, five, really. I just want to stress upon the fact that I felt, as if I was presented with an supreme wisdom and truth just about everything. The feeling has passed now, but the memory remains.

Don’t miss a cool Metallica reference. ;-)

Total: 5/5 (and not a point less)

The Witcher is a game that comes only once. The next game delivered by CDProjekt may be (and should be) better than The Witcher in every respect, but it won’t repeat the impact Witcher had on PC gaming community and me personally. Could you have imagined a year ago, that a game marking a debut of an unknown Eastern European studio would be bursting with creative ideas, be near to the perfect state in technology, please your eyes and ears with glorious score and visuals and at the same time, making you a better man and opening your eyes to the faults of the world around you? I couldn’t have.

The Witcher is slap in the face to all the bitter and grumpy folks, sitting on their asses and complaining on how commercialized the industry of video games has become. The Witcher is a slap in the face to all of the whining “creative geniuses” waiting for a goody publisher to give them money for their ideas. The Witcher is a slap in the face to all who thinks video games can’t make you think and evolve as a human being.

Read the one-liner once again. A Grain Of Truth is a title of one of the stories, comprising the written saga of Geralt, the witcher. And this exact phrase I apply to The Witcher, a video game. It is a grain of truth amidst the sands of deceit around us. Don’t let this grain slip through your fingers unnoticed. Save it. Treasure it.

Windows · by St. Martyne (3648) · 2008

Possibly the finest RPG I've ever played

The Good
I finished The Witcher for the first time 3 days ago and it's still "with" me - in my thoughts and in my dreams. As the title of this review suggests, I was thoroughly pleased with the game. While I'm going to give it a rest for a bit, I do plan to keep it installed to play at least once more.

In every respect, this is a truly great game. I'll explain more in the conclusion section.

The Bad
My computer is 3 years old, so it is not surprising that I had some problems playing The Witcher. Most of it seemed to be related to video, so I'm sure that my ATI Radeon 9800 Pro video card should be ditched and replaced with a newer, more powerful model. For instance, I was thrown out of the game and my computer rebooted when I started my first new game. Then, in early chapters, I experienced random freezes, black screens, movement lags and hang-ups. However, with tips I found in the Witcher forums I was able to do some tweaking which helped. During the frustrating times, though, I never gave up. I loved it so much that I was determined to get through it. Just when I thought I could never continue, all the problems mysteriously disappeared. I was estatic when the game played flawlessly and I was able to finish it. Saving often literally kept me sane.

Speaking of saved games, you'll find out soon enough that your saved game files are huge and can quickly fill up your hard drive. Quick Save doesn't overwrite the old file, rather it adds yet another new file. It helped to know that older games can be deleted safely and doing that actually helps problems like the ones I was having. I hope that the developers will change the Quick Save in any expansions or sequels.

During some of the story, especially in Chapter 2, there was an excess of travelling long distances back and forth between NPCs. But, I realized that much of this was to make sure I faced enough monsters and quests to level up. So, although it did become tedious, it was not a big deal.

The European version has more nudity than the US version, or so I've heard. Instead of censuring, I say - give us the choice! I'm over 21 and have no minor children in my house. Add an option - let us choose the maturity level we want to see.

Finally, when the game was over I felt there were some story threads left unresolved. For instance, the fate of a young boy, Geralt's love interest and his full memory. Hopefully the sequel will address those issues.

The Bottom Line
In every RPG gamer's mind is the dream of their perfect role playing game. That game would transport them into a realm so fantastic that they could lose themselves in it and feel as if they'd become part of it. Decisions made within the game would result in consequences that affect everything around them - politically, socially, theologically as well as personally. The world must be beautiful; there must be unique NPCs with meaningful, informative conversations; the scenarios should be challenging and absorbing; the interface intuitive; the story deep with numerous sub-plots and unexpected twists; and, lastly, an ending that is both satisfying and fulfilling.

For me, The Witcher fulfilled my vision of MY ideal role playing game. But I must admit that technically speaking the game did not run flawlessly on my machine, as I explained above.

The opening intro movie clearly shows us that Geralt, the witcher, is no ordinary fighter. He shows no fear when facing the monster. In fact, he relishes the battle. The monster is his prey and he is in complete control. Using his extraordinary reflexes and cunning, he watches and learns its moves, picking the right moment to strike. He uses his fists first, knocking it off balance and causing the beast confusion and anger. Then, when the time is right, he draws his mighty sword and finishes it off. After the movie is over, it is utterly apparent that this is not just another hack-'n-slash game.

Gals take note - Geralt is one of the most extraordinarily masculine game characters I've ever seen in a game. He looks strange with his white hair and cat-like yellow eyes. And yet he is handsome, charismatic and sexy. His voice is deep and his physique, movements, stance and body language give him the appearance of absolute virility. Mmmm.

As the game begins, you'll learn that witchers are mutants - genetically altered humans designed for one purpose - to kill monsters. You'll also discover that there are few of them left to handle that task. They are not just a bunch of blood-thirsty killers. They are friends and comrades who truly care about each other and believe in their profession.

All throughout the game excellent cinematics like the intro movie are woven in. Close-up cut scenes during important conversations brought me closer to knowing the individuals involved in the story. The music was so beautiful at times that I turned it up and just sat still to listen to it.

When you start a new game, you can choose how you prefer to play it. I chose the mouse-controlled medium difficulty in which magic and potion usage is optional. I liked my choice, but you might prefer the all-keyboard method. There are 3 modes of view too ranging from over-the-shoulder to almost top-down or isometric. These can be selected in-game at will. The advancement in levels is unique to my experience. You are awarded medallions in bronze, silver and, much later, gold. Choose which skills you wish to improve upon using the number of medallions you have earned. Explanations for everything are there to help you pick things that fit your idea of how you want Geralt to evolve.

Geralt's inner abilities are enhanced by drinking special potions. In The Witcher there's much more to this than increasing health or mana, like in other RPGs, and you won't find any of his potions sold by merchants. Recipes must be found in books or scrolls and, occasionally, verbally from NPCs. Ingredients are found on plants and fallen foes or purchased. Then when you "meditate", you can mix up your own potions. It is possible to overdose when Geralt's toxin level gets too high. This, too, is unique and different from any other game I've played.

I particularly enjoyed playing Poker against many varied opponents and eventually advanced to the top as a legend. Fist fighting, too, was fun and can earn money and prestige within the ranks of the elite. That too was easy and a fun diversion.

If you love RPGs, don't miss this one

There are rumors that there will be a sequel released within the next year or so. I've also heard that the books on which this was based may be translated into English. I look forward to both.

Windows · by Jeanne (75925) · 2009

From Poland with love

The Good
If someone told you that an unknown, inexperienced Polish developer would release an RPG that will instantly turn into a beloved cult item, claiming its place in the ranks of role-playing crème de la crème, you would probably heartily laugh at the good joke while greedily browsing the web for more news about that latest BioWare game.

That is, unless you happen to play The Witcher.

It turns out that you don’t have to be an experienced coding house from a country with rich traditions of video game-making in order to make a memorable product. I won’t say that you also don’t need a good budget; no, evidence of solid money spent on the technical aspect of The Witcher can be clearly seen (and heard). But – and I’m not afraid to sound corny here – what you really need is a soul. The collective soul of passionate game developers, who poured it all, unconditionally, into a game that shouldn't be ashamed of a comparison to the finest contemporary offerings of the genre.

Make no mistake here – the instant sympathy The Witcher has evoked in many players does not owe its existence to an advanced graphical engine, nifty gameplay gimmicks, or even controversial content in form of sex and drugs. It’s the wonderful personality of the game that ignited that spark. Players’ love to this game is not an irrational, hysterical passion that is sometimes caused by high amount of super-textured polygons or fifty thousand ways of customizing a sword. The Witcher is straightforward and honest in the way it treats role-playing mechanics: it's simple when it comes to basic gameplay, but deep when it comes to choices and decisions.

The Witcher is a game that poses difficult questions without nudging the player towards the obvious "good" choice. You don’t side with the Order or with the elves because you identify yourself with their ideologies. You also don’t choose between those two because one is good and the other is evil. You make the choice because your life – such as depicted in the game’s story - forces you to choose. It has nothing to do with following a certain set of virtues or with adhering to a certain philosophical system. This is not even a political or social choice; siding with the Order does not strengthen security, same way as siding with the elves does not bring freedom. Being neutral also doesn't solve the problem in a magical way, doesn't lead to a “best ending” or anything like that. As most choices in The Witcher, this decision is a deeply personal issue, in many ways similar to the decision to have relationship with certain women who appear in the game’s story. The game speaks directly to your heart, offering no false consolations or fake gameplay-related prizes. You choose, and you face the consequences.

On a more basic level, The Witcher can be a satisfying RPG as well - though it is clear that certain features were underdeveloped or omitted. The combat system is simple, yet elegant. Executing the combos is so fun that after a while I began to wonder why nobody else has thought of it before. Character development is interesting and proves to be effective for the most part. With two kinds of swords and three styles for each, there isn’t much complexity, but enough variety to keep the combat fresh and challenging (“damn it, I can barely scratch that guy… gotta use a different style”), and the upgrading is very entertaining, making you sit in front of the fire for hours, thinking about where to invest the gained “talents”, wanting to gather experience just to test those new abilities in a battle (“aaah, wait till I get that +30 Pain effect… that will show those bastards!”). Experience is richly rewarded for taking side-quests, so there is practically no grindwork involved.

One of the game's main selling points is its world. We've seen our share of medieval fantasy settings in games, from the historic realism of Darklands to the boundless imagination of Planescape: Torment; but none is as truthfully unpleasant, as grimly brutal as the world of The Witcher. Mature themes are treated with remarkable seriousness here. They didn't even need all the sexual and drug-using references (although they certainly add a very fitting edge to the story). Racism, fanaticism, political intrigues, greed, betrayal, cowardice – negative emotions surround the hero, who he has to find his path in a truly dark world. They didn't require an ultra-stylish post-apocalyptic setting to depict corruption, loneliness, and despair. On the bank of a peacefully-looking river, in broad daylight, you realize that the world and human beings are deeply flawed – without any hypocritical sighs and flat moralizing. The Witcher is a critique of human society such as rarely seen within the medium. The story betrays the Slavic origin of the game, being somewhat melancholic and having a brooding, but warm attitude.

The story is decorated by a strong character cast. Again, you feel the dark Slavic influence, which in this case translates into depth: most of the characters have several “layers”, and with a few exceptions, none is particularly “good”; most of the characters in the game are a very realistic mixture of good and evil – even though evil definitely prevails. The brooding, rough protagonist with his own personal problems is a welcome change from customized semi-silent heroes or youthful prodigies that have won the auditions for the main player character in so many other games.

I have heard many complains about the English translation. I think some of the dialogues are brilliantly written, even though a certain awkwardness is felt in many lines. It is a known fact that this particular translation has suffered at the hands of censors who removed many swear words and offensive lines in general. For that reason, I highly recommend the enhanced edition with its improved content and new translation that actually makes the infamous dwarven blacksmith curse properly instead of offering watered-down remarks concerning discrimination against his race.

The package comes with lovely and at times stunning graphics; while not everything looks equally great, some of the views have a serene and somewhat melancholic (again, typically Slavic) beauty. Character models, except for the sad duplicating I’ll refer to below, are generally very lively and expressive. The music is perfectly integrated with the rest of the game, rarely drawing too much attention to itself, but rather providing a fitting background and contributing to the atmosphere of the game.

The Bad
You’ll rarely hear me complaining about bugs; but there is a nasty, evil one in The Witcher. if you side with the Order, a certain barricade which must be destroyed in order to advance the story will remain magically indestructible. To be fair, this is not a complete show-stopping bug, since there is a (very tedious, unorthodox, and hard-to-find) work-around of sorts to this atrocity; but it is still terrible. It made me utter swear words that would have been censored by US authorities if they were included in the game itself.

For the record, patch 1.2 does correct this – the barricade broke obediently after I reloaded a nearby save game.

NPCs who look like twin brothers are not something uncommon in games – specially not large role-playing games like The Witcher. What occurs less frequently, however, is the absolute resemblance of unimportant NPCs to major characters of the game – and that is unfortunately what happens only too often in this title. Even before you realize that the merchant Leeuvarden does play a significant role in the story, you’ll find thousands of leeuvardens happily walking around. One will sell you armor, another one is an evil spy, yet another one is just a standard traveler, etc. The only thing that distinguishes them from each other and from their important “brother” is the color of their clothes. This is palette-swapping at its worst, because the faces in The Witcher (including this particular one) are very well-done and instantly recognizable; it’s therefore even more unforgivable to use them for key figures and generic NPCs alike.

The main problem of The Witcher, however, is its relatively modest quantity of traditional role-playing features coupled with low interactivity. Perhaps the talented Polish developers could have studied the work of their German colleagues. There is no real continuous, fully explorable world in The Witcher. The fact almost the entire game takes place in and around one city is exacerbated by the absence of real physical connection to the surroundings. The lack of interactivity bothered me as much as the disappointing size of the world. Geralt cannot jump, climb, grab or push things (except with the very limited and scripted use of the Aard spell), or otherwise physically interact with the game world. The areas tend to be small and fairly linear, with a lot of places which are impassable only because the designers said so. Maybe they thought that physical immersion will distract players from following the tight story. It is indeed a matter of priorities, and mine lie with the gameplay in all cases.

The Bottom Line
There are more technically flawless, immersive, and complex RPGs out there, but you won’t easily find one that has as much soul and personality as The Witcher. The Polish developers put themselves on the map with this relatively modest, but fascinating and surprisingly mature game, imbuing it with burning passion for choice-based role-playing.

Windows · by Unicorn Lynx (181748) · 2015

Every man wants to be like Geralt, every game wants to be like The Witcher

The Good
I want to talk about the hero first. The more you play "The Witcher", the more you can fall in love with Geralt. He is not a completely cold-blooded person, but he is always in a conflict. He also wants to have family, to live a normal life, but he is a witcher, he follows his profession. I think this game is a little bit too cruel to him... My feeling is that after you have played the game for a long time, you begin to really care for what happens to the witcher.

Already when I saw the intro, I thought that Geralt was very ugly; with a scar on his face, and white hair, I was sure that no girl would be able to fall in love with him. Then my husband told me that many women found Geralt attractive, and I just said: "Chyeahh!.." But the more you play the game, you will be attracted to his character, not his face. His expression is always the same: when you see him you think he is cold-blooded, but when you play the game, you will see he has a lot of feelings, passions, he can also fall in love with a girl. And he has a great voice.

In China there is an old saying: "英雄难过美人关" (yingxiong nanguo meirenguan), it means: no matter how brave a hero is in battle, he will be helpless against a beautiful woman. Like me! Let me compliment myself... Okay, just a joke. Anyway, Geralt is just like this.

Now about the princess. Actually, I think Geralt and the princess are the best couple! Because Geralt is cool as a man, and the princess is very beautiful. And I think her character is like "Shanghai princess"...

In the story there are many moments that will shock you. You'd think you are already near the end, but the story continues. Pity that the final battles were too easy. In this story, there are no perfect solutions, always conflict. Even the main villain has his own reasons. Actually his goal is not bad at all. But I really don't understand the final cut scene... About the main villain: I really hate such people in real life. People who do things behind you back, don't act directly.

In "The Witcher", you create your character by taking decisions in the game. Those decisions influence the story and the characters who appear in it. Like on that illusion island, where characters from the past come to meet you.

In the gameplay, the best part is that you have two swords, to fight different people. And you should judge them by their looks. There are also three different styles. You should have a quick reaction to choose one of those styles to fight different enemies. Also, the fighting is not like in other games, click the mouse and that's all; you can't click too much, you must decide when to click and wait until you have finished one action.

Because my English is not good enough, I never put those points to make Geralt stronger, it was my husband who did all that. In the beginning we played this game in Chinese, so I also helped him a lot! I can't say much about this system. In such a game, you always want to have all of those abilities, but of course you can't.

The graphics are amazing! All those islands, also the lake, it's very beautiful.

You don't notice much the music in the game. But the battle music was very good. Also, if you want to listen to folk music, you can click on the violinist, and he says all the time "Just listen"... "just listen"... "just listen"...

The Bad
The intro shows Geralt fighting a monster (who is actually a princess); so you expect the game to be a love story or some sad thing, but in the end it's all about the society, corruption, such things. This is not bad, the story is very interesting, but I feel it wasn't very related to the intro.

There are too many people who look the same, it always confused me! Like that old woman from the village, Vaska. There are a lot of those vaskas in the game! All old women look like her, in every village you find some who walk around.

There are many places that look like you can go there, but actually you can't. That's very annoying.

Also, there is a bug, when you can't go through in one place no matter what you do.

The Bottom Line
Thank you very much, Polish developers. You've created such a manly Geralt, and a great game. I'm lucky that my husband didn't kill me, he was always jealous of Geralt when we played!

Windows · by Melody (48) · 2008

[v1.1] Legendary as a story-driven adventure game; Dull as an RPG

The Good
Review Version: v1.1 Minor grammar fixes.
Game Version: v1.0.0.1
Difficulty Setting Used: Hard
Game Style Used: Mouse & Keyboard
Camera Style Used: OTS
Plot Used: Fully supporting the Order of the Flaming Rose; Nice to monsters but kill everybody else :)
Times Restarted: About 8 times I think, most times up to the 3rd chapter. Nothing more irritating than a perfectionist hardcore gamer. sigh
Finished: Yes. May 7, 2008.

The Witcher.

Now there's a name that will forever embody the memories of person(s) who played this game. Last time I felt a similar sensation was playing Ultima where the term “avatar” now has a direct and personal meaning, even more so than it's original use.

The game Witcher greatly emphasizes on story telling…something gamers often complained were lacking in modern games. So, as Witcher weaved it's tale to me, I shall likewise use the same approach in this review: how I experienced the saga of Geralt of Rivia…the Witcher.

Intro Cut Scene
Note: This section may be skipped
It starts with a sunset. A murky forgotten castle, one would expect in such troublesome times. The details of what seems to be a moment of graphical extraordinaire, would bring envy to the creators of reality, as this illusion in a box seems to capture the atmospheric setting it was meant to achieve and more.

pauses

Personally I’d find it quite boring for a reader to read this kind of crap in a game review, regardless of how my ego currently shines in reviewing such writing eloquence in the above description, which would much likely give Shakespeare a surprising hard-on. cough. 'Scuse the ladies.

/end pause

The movie portrays our hero, which will later be identified as Geralt of Rivia, the Witcher. Preparing what seems to be an ambush for a monster, in this case a Stryga, which unfortunately is one of the ugliest versions of a monster I've seen in quite a while…with the exception of the last girl I knew looked like in the morning. [Enter feminist remark here].

Geralt the Witcher aka White Wolf, is probably what the mature hero should and always look like: a person that could walk in the wrong room and not be consequently gang-raped by the tough inhibiting occupants, which is more than I can say for Luke Skywalker, the forefather of heroes specializing in dropping the soap at the wrong place with the wrong crowd.

Our white-haired, hourglass-eyed hero, after being cued by the calming old mellow voice of the story teller, sets forth the bait (a poor looking chap that runs away in a most unfitting style of retreat) to drive the monster out of its hiding, after of course doping himself with some unknown potion. The animation sequence showing him experimenting with narcotics, which would upset any conservative parent, is surprising detailed and graphically enlightening: a shock of it immediately engulfs Geralt as he withstands the toxic stimulant streaming down his veins, his face directly forces the viewer with a momentary death like vision of ghastly horrors of what the potion was meant to achieve. Er…sorry….got carried away there.

Soon enough, the monster emerges (feasting on that poor chap set as bait). Geralt, after gulping that toxic aphrodisiac which would be a hit at night clubs, seems invulnerable after jumping off the not-so-stable window sill from that not-so-stable second story floor. Unlike the average RPG hero than nerds have wet dreams about, he does not brandish that over-sized Viking hammer, and he just throws a small rock at the monster, thus gaining its attention. Now, personally whoever thought of that little sequence definitely grew out of his nerdy ways and has a girlfriend. :)

Although quite surprisingly, Geralt has yet to show his over-sized…er…sword at the monster, the next several minutes consists of odd dodging and evading. Unfortunately for the viewer, this passive maneuver is only revealed billions of hours later during game play. Well, this action sequence was somewhat of a minor disaster, as the movements of ol’ Geralt are not so smooth, if not robot-like. Fortunately, the animation developers didn't mess up the second time with the ending cut scene (which by the way had the best fighting-scene since Matrix...good going animation team!)

Finally, the monster runs off in a seemingly similar pitiful demeanor as that poor sob it just had dinner with…and Geralt spends the night in the coffin to break the curse. A very nice hand gesture I noticed, before and after Geralt sleeps…waking up, the curse is broken, revealing a very naked yum red-haired woman…which in gratitude claws the poor sucker. Ouch.

Well, I really didn't need to spend 2 pages telling you about the intro animation, but I would like to give credit to the animation team. Well, the fact that overall the animation is somewhat average (sorry), with the exception of the graphical detail, but it's also one of the longest bloody intro animation movies I've ever seen, fully equipped with little artistic details…that I for one, very well noticed. That itself is worth all 3 thumbs up! Yay!

The Option Settings
This is only worth mentioning since I noticed that there was a “mouse” and a “keyboard + mouse” setting, the later for advanced players. It’s nice to know that someone pays attention to hardcore gamers, rather that the standard point-and-click casual gamers. Games were meant to be played with 2 hands!

It Begins
Ah, that mellow storyteller voice again. Hold on, there seems to be a lag going on here. The subtitles and the voices don’t match in sequence. Hmm…must be my specs. Stupid PC. OK, now I really got to do something about the specs…Geralt, who now is being escorted after passing out, is being carried on a very blue cart. Well, it's not supposed to be blue, for sure…after confirming with the fact that everyone has a ghastly blue light overlapping their eyes and mouth. Restart. Change settings, minimize all tech-specs to all-down-season-low…whew, it works perfectly now.

Let the adventure begin.

Character/Background Graphics & Animations
I haven’t played games frequently as I used to (consequence of having a day job I suppose). Therefore, I was quite astounded when I saw the detailed graphical facial features (in addition to the already detailed background setting)…something that used to be the standard cut scene of games 5 or so years ago. All the characters in the game had facial features, expressions, and even more surprisingly body language. When dialog occurs, each character, including Geralt expresses particular body language (such as hand gestures) which I found particularly appeasing. As usually in dialogs, you only pay attention to writings and not really the characters themselves.

Other graphics worth noting were the “load game” oil-paintings, which provided some angle of what an area looks like in another perspective. However, the best graphical non-3D details I’ve seen in the game occur during dice poker matches. The graphic artists went out of their way to create a diverse and colorful setting for every dice poker match. Though, not really a main attraction in the game, it’s nice to know, at least graphically, all aspects were indeed covered.

Voice Acting and Dialogs
One can only appreciate something when it is compared to something else…in most cases; you know something stinks because you smelled better aromas. Other “aromas” can be found in other games where the voice acting is usually plain…if not downright disastrous (Gothic 3 has one of the most boring voice actings I know of…and there other games even worse); the voice actor's position is much harder than the screen actor, due to the lack of facial expressions that support the illusion of the emotion, in this regard are subsequently replaced by computer animation.

The lack of various and specified facial expressions and body gestures due to limited computer animation (very well understandable), inhibits the voice actor to fully express him and herself, even more so because the most of the important story-based dialogs this game presents demand such expressions and articulations. Here are some of the things I’ve noticed from the voice acting alone (in addition to the supporting dialogs):

Geralt of Rivia:
Male, mid 30’s. True Neutral (depends). Tough demeanor, self-confident, sharp, witty, does not express emotions openly, may under certain circumstance display mild forms of compassion or steady vengeance in his tone.
Best Line: ”A dwarf and a troubadour who knows all the loose women in town. One couldn’t ask for better advisers.” [sequence concerning love life]

Trish Merigold:
Female, early 30’s or late 20’s. Chaotic Neutral. Confident, seductive and mildly flirtatious in a mature manner, political animal, conspirator.
Best Line: ”I can conjure up orgasms as well.”

Zoltan Chivay:
Male, early or mid 40’s (human years). Neutral Good. Old and tired gruff realistic dwarf. Non-political, but displays a subtle tone of alarm in the politics of non-humans.
Best Line: ”Sometimes when a woman doesn’t say something, it’s exactly what she wants. Other times they say one thing and want the total opposite.”
[waits to hear entire male population sigh in union].

Dandelion:
Male, mid 20’s. Chaotic Good. Optimistic, liberal, cheerful and opportunistic yet honest playboy. Takes life easy, where the wind blows his lute goes.
Best Line: Unfortunately not many good lines for Dandelion. But any boasts of past and present female conquests are always a delight.

Shani:
Female, mid 20’s. Neutral Good. Conservative, shy girl with reserved past. Empathic, compassionate girl next door.
Best Line: None. Most of her dialogs apparently weren’t really seriously written.

The Professor:
Male, mid 30’s. Chaotic Neutral or Lawful Evil (surprise!). Professional, sarcastic, intelligent, opportunist.
Best Line: ”So witcher’s can parry arrows in flight after all…”

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The person dubbing Geralt perfectly fits the character he portrays, the rough no-nonsense hero…which is only possible with equally supportive dialogs, some of which were masterfully written, while others are very much average. The eloquence of the voice acting which I have noticed, also applies to all the main characters, and even the supportive characters: peasants, grandmothers and the children.

One of my favorite the voices acting from the support characters is a little boy saying “Your hair is white, how come?”. The dialog itself is meaningless, but the intonation in which the child actor used was flawless. Even the small little girl saying “I want to be a bar wench when I grow older” had the appropriate medieval peasant tone and articulation, which you’d probably only notice if you like studying dialects and have heard games where the not-so-professional actor still has a thick mid-American sub-urban dialect, regardless that the plot is set in medieval Europe.

Other dialogs I deemed as personal favorites refer to the manner of maturity the writer displayed, without sounding corny or too cheap. One favorite example is if you choose to save the Witch at the starting town, prompting a response from a non-emotional Geralt to warn the pitch-fork happy villagers. It sounds something like this:

"You can kill the witch after I leave, but then I'll be back. When I do, I'll kill every two-legged ape-like scum that can't climb a tree. Or you could go home and lead honorable lives. The choice is yours."

Geralt leaves the scene with those words, and you can vividly imagine the aura of authority and fear he represents in that particular instance. Now it's Dirty Harry's turn to have a hard-on. 'Scuse the ladies.

Personally for me, this game presents the best example of voice acting utopia in a game…and mind you, I don't give away such praises due to my pessimistic nature.

Story
Well, this is the hard part. I said before, story is the essential drive of this game…and personally, the story in this game portrays the best in-game story compared to Final Fantasy, Ultima and Quest for Glory series combined, all three by the way are (still) the top 3 story-based series I know of. What makes the story to a certain extent a glorified masterpiece, is not the overall plot…which talks about politics, racism, choice and all that hoo-haa, which is too shallow for my tastes, only because I've passed that phase.

What makes the story are the side stories of the characters (besides Geralt) and how it was described. For many hardcore RPG gamers like myself, where you may handle more than one character, you subconsciously attach yourself in taking care of those characters no matter what. Though in this game, you only play Geralt, you do take interest in the lives of the other main characters, some of which you deemed as friends throughout the game play.

These friends, may it be the sorceress Triss Merigold, the Healer Shani, the child Alvin, the bard Dandelion, the Dwarf Zoltan Chivey, the Order Knight Siegfried, etc., play an essential role in what choices you may make for your own sake or theirs. These choices will sum up the person you want Geralt to be…in many instances, who you want to be.

The choices you make are summed up with lovely oil-painting sequences summarizing the effect of past choices with Geralt as the story teller. Most, if not all of the scripts in this particular sequence is extremely well written. Although Geralt's own voice may not indicate emotion, the choice of words very well does. The best example in this regard, is the Werewolf encounter (if you chose not to kill him), displays one of the most romantic emotionally mature fairy tales I've heard in a very…very long while.

Choices that you don’t make (main plot sequences), are always worth the wait. These short non-animated cut scenes (if that's what they're called), establish future and past dealings of Geralt with present and past characters.

Depending on your own level of morality or personal values, it is up to you in the game, whether or not to care, and how much care would you be willing to invest through the choices you make within the game. Choices which surprisingly do not have a direct impact on the overall game play, may be felt much-much later in the game.

Should you save the witch or let her burn?
Should you kill the elven rebels or let them get away?
Should you help the Order or help the Scolatel?
Triss or Shani?

Choices are a bitch…so is life. Welcome to reality.

The Bad
Gameplay: Combat Mechanics – The Action-RPG Dilemma
I would not dare contest this game if it were simply an adventure game. However, as an action RPG, I must duly protest the dumb combat mechanics (among others) this game has to offer. As far as combat goes in this game, it was better off not being an action-RPG. In theory, the combat mechanics are appeasing enough, but before I trash this field to kingdom come, I'll give a quick overview of the combat mechanics:

The witcher introduces martial-arts style movements in his sword play. These styles when used in an appropriate time frame (indicated by a yellow slash of the sword) will enter the next combat combo sequence, introducing greater damaging blows:

  • [Wolf] A strong sword style for big slow-moving monsters like your mother-in-law;
  • [Eagle] A fast sword style to knock off nosy kids from your lawn;
  • [Gryphon] And the group sword style which obviously inhibits any form of surprise gang-rapes in those dark lonely corridors. Dodging and parrying are automatic, indicated by simply combat text.

The witcher also is capable of unique witcher magic, or in their terms, witcher signs. Most signs have a specific use; however, upgrading the spell may introduce additional magical features. Each sign (there are 5) introduces a unique magical spells:

  • [Aard Sign] The first one you obtain is similar to the Force Bolt in Hero's Quest I (Quest for Glory I): a telekinetic wave of energy with additional effects that may stun or knock down your opponent, also useful for breaking breakable barriers.
  • [Igni Sign] The second spell is a fireball or more exact “fire-spray” area attack used to incinerate foes, burning them for a limited time frame, extremely useful when surrounded or weakening strong opponents. The power-up version of this turns it into a long ranged fireball spell.
  • [Yrdn Sign] The third spell you obtain is a magical trap that “supposedly” damages any creature that walks across it (repeatedly)...though quite odd considering that pile of spikes on the ground is a bit obvious (they failed to mention that it's either invisible or everyone has an IQ of 20). The upgraded version of this spell becomes a wide area attack of spikes, but only a single charge.
  • [Quen Sign] The fourth spell is an invulnerable protective field that protects you from all damages for a short period of time. The shield is canceled if you conduct any offensive actions such asking a she-dwarf out for a date.
  • [Axii Sign] The fifth and final spell is the physic wave that may cause the enemy to flee or more importantly turn them into temporary allies. Useful for a quick lay.

That done, now let's get into the problems:

    [1]Sword Style/Mechanics issues
    Although it may seem quite classy at first, with all those wushu like moves out of a cheap ninja movie, they are all unfortunately just automatic animations of a more complex version of the standard hack-and-slash RPG. In the end it’s still the same thing: click-click-click. The many sword moves (which may be upgraded into more stunning maneuvers) are not a manual option, just a graphical feature. This obviously results as a chore in combat, as there are no tactical options available, only timing of sword moves so you can enter the next sequence of sword slashing and ball breaking, even more so that dodging and parrying are automatic. The problem lies in the illusion that you don’t feel like you're fighting. As most of the movements are automatic, it isn’t really fun. A good example of combat mechanics of flawless proportions is Fable: Lost Chapters, which is actually really simple: the character moves when you want to move, attacks when you want him to attack, etc. In witcher, combat reflexes are…let’s say on a different area code. More than often, you click and nothing happens. When you do click out of frustration, you miss a sequence or in terms of spells, over-cast the spell. This also applies to manual forms of dodging (rolling or jumping around). There have been too many times I found my character unable to dodge when I want him to dodge, usually a delay occurs, or worse - no movement at all…he just stands there swaying that overgrown branch of a sword. And speaking of dodging… [2]Sheath/Brandish Sword Bug
    Well, it’s not a bug, just stupid programming. But first I must complain. Who’s stupid fucking idea is it to force the witcher to sheath his weapon every freaking 5 minutes? There I am, in the middle of the swamp, running towards a couple of wyverns and the moronic idiot sheaths his weapon. He must be really sure of himself. Seriously, don’t mess with my character, when I want him to sheath his weapon, I’ll do it myself. Sure, you say, that if you press “attack” you automatically attack anyways…but I’m sure you weren’t smart enough to notice that when your sword is sheathed you cannot manually dodge. Voila, I died several times not knowing why my character couldn’t maneuver…which usually happens when you enter a room (with the sword brandished) enter it (the idiot sheathes his weapon) and find yourself surrounding by possible gang-rape offenders. God, this feature is irritating. [3]Stun Issues
    There are also many instances where the “stun” feature doesn’t work. When an enemy is stunned, there is a very nice animation of the witcher conducting a finishing move. They consist of various beheading styles, an up-close-and-personal multiple chest stab or an acrobatic leap thrusting your favorite sword down the opponents spine. Without these moves, combat in general would be dull and practically not worth mentioning. But often it doesn’t work. The first time I played witcher, every time I stun an opponent, the next “click” is followed by a normal attack…which is why I stopped playing the game due to boredom. [4]Spell/Sign Issues
    First is the Yrdn sign (Magical Trap) issue. Someone failed to mention that it doesn’t work in all directions. If you use the trap in a certain direction, it will only do damage to an opponent from an opposite direction. Useful, if you’re running away from something. Not useful if you’re trying to lure the monster to your trap and you forgot which direction for the trap works. Second is the Igni sign (Fireball) issue. The power-up version of the sign is supposed to be a long-ranged fireball. Well, it works but it hardly damages the opponent…actually I don’t think it damages the opponent at all. Those drowners don’t seem to die, so I’m stuck with the close-up incinerate version. Third is the Axii sign (Physic) issue. Don’t know about you, but I don’t use it. It’s faster just to kill’em off with the Igni sign or just stun them with Aard Sign. The sequence of planning usually is this: if you can’t stun’em, burn’em. There isn’t a plan C, since burning them usually finishes the job. [5]Combat vs. Story Sequence Interruptions
    The game has this increasingly irritating feature of entering a automatic dialog window in certain parts of the game, when your in the middle of doing something else…i.e. protecting helpless barmaids from certain horny ghost dogs (Barghests). Don’t know why they can’t for all the enemies to die first and talk later, no you have to talk first, which the enemies are patiently waiting for to end your little chit-chat. Chivalrous but equally stupid. Don’t forget that you get to sheath your weapon every time you enter dialog mode! Nice doggy. [6]Secondary Weapon Nonsense
    Why the hell they had this feature is beyond me.
    Overgrown Treebranch: 53% chance of dislodging enemy groin and throwing up in the process. Cannot be used in witcher sword styles.
    Well, most of the secondary weapons have a something percentage chance of dislodging an enemy shield or something else. But you just don’t use it, because the witcher swords always deal more damage. The only other uses I’ve found are torches (for obvious reasons) and daggers, which deal a deadly blow to knocked-down opponents (hmm…just noticed this). [7]Lost in the Swamp
    God this area is irritating. Besides the lack of auto saves (since auto saves only occur when you don’t want them to occur, i.e. every time you enter a house), the map maker messed up good in this area. Combat in the swamp involves a lot of hit-and-run tactics…especially with wyverns or man-eating plants (if you’re not strong enough). There one really stupid feature, where you can run to a certain location and fine out you aren’t moving forward…simply because in the mini-map its “off-limits”. However, someone forgot to put a physical barrier in the background since it’s just swamp water. Hello, a cliff would be nice here. I don’t need to tell you how many times I died because I got stuck at a dead end (which doesn’t look like one). [8]Geographical Obstacle Irritation
    When you run away from over-grown horny monsters, don’t run near trees or anything that looks like an obstacle, chances are you’ll get stuck for a couple of seconds…which of course is a matter of life and death when you’re poisoned. The swamp is filled with these kinds of death traps. Innocent looking trees which inhibit your maneuverability when retreating from combat (in addition to problems #7 above). The cemetery is also visibly irritating. Graphically, the graves are only…what 5-15 cm tall, but your mutant hero can’t move there, because it’s just a graphical barrier. [9]Weapon Looting
    Well, this doesn’t really have to do with combat mechanics, just that I don’t where else to put this :p Do you remember what RPG’s are all about? Let me refresh your memory: Character development (ie. statistics, leveling up, feats), Character Equipment and Inventory (many weapons and armor), Looting monsters, you know the standard. Since it’s obvious that the game lacks several elements in traditional RPG’s, they had to fuck up the looting process too. Do you know what the next best thing in RPG’s is besides character development? It’s the process of looting an opponent, going to the local store, and selling all that junk…capitalists in the making. Now the problem lies in weapons where you have a limited number of weapon slots available…though that’s not where the real problem lies. I don’t know about you, but I’m totally the reason’s people trashed Bard’s Tale (the remake), only because they nullified the seemly feature chore of going back and forth selling monster loot at stores. But that is the fun part about RPGs is, it logically seems useless and repetitive, but that’s what we RPG fans are used to. That stupid process of going “Aha! More, loot!” every 3 minutes. Now due to the limited number of weapon slots, you can only take so many “dropped weapons” to sell at the store. You can’t use your inventory slot for some reason, so you have a limited of maximum 2 main weapon slots (the third slot is usually a witcher sword, unless you’re using both, meaning only 1 free slot) and one empty minor weapon slot. It becomes irritating only because items disappear when you enter a new area (a house, etc.) So you hope there’s an outdoor blacksmith where you can sell those weapons, and run half a mile back and repeat this process. [10]Limited Battlefields and Status Damages
    Someone came up with the not so bright idea of limiting the battlefield when fighting certain bosses or story-based sequences. Most irritating of them all is the first boss: that over-grown ghost dog, with its horde or barghest dogs against you and the witch (if you decide to save her). In this fight, like many fights, the battlefield is limited usually with a ring of fire or just a graphical barrier. This feature is irritating, when your health is critical and rather than focusing on dodging the enemy, you focus on not running up the barrier (in most cases you get burned, voila...dead). Limiting battlefields in this most inappropriate manner for the added illusion of game difficulty is as irritating as giving the big boss with 9,999,999 health points in Final Fantasy games. Even more irritating is certain "status damages" (if that's what they are called) like incineration, knock-down, or anything that practically renders your character immobile for several seconds while constantly being whacked by the enemy. This, my dear developers gives a sense of hopelessness to the player. Never...ever...put the player in a situation where they feel they cannot rectify the situation.
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Alchemy
A nice one the alchemy here. Combining ingredients with similar elements provides additional benefits on top of potion end results. What seems to be a chore however is the process of dragging the ingredients one-by-one, since the “auto-potion” function just grabs whatever ingredients…almost always with different elements in it and usually picks either the most expensive ingredient, or the least batch of ingredients that you have, while not even touching that 50 drowner brains. This only becomes a hassle when you have 10 or so potions to make before what may seem to be a big fight.

Additionally, the recipe scroll always scrolls up when you finish a potion, prompting you to scroll down back again to find out the recipe the same potion you just forgot. Irritating process really.

Last but not Least – The Story
You’d be surprised that the overall story to me, though mostly masterfully written was a major disappointment in many minor areas. I mentioned before that for RPG stories, it’s the supporting characters and their relation to you, which is what, makes the story worthwhile. I detected that this was probably the original intention to make everything entwined, but was probably rushed…a standard irritation in the game industry that often destroys a possible masterpiece of a game. Here’s what I expected (since it was portrayed as such) but unfortunately did not get:

  • Identity. I never got a chance to finish this primary quest, don’t know if it’s a bug, but it seems to have to do with Triss. But in this game, I chose Shani. Near the end of the game, this quest was still open and “I” still don’t know what happened to me. One of the driving purposes in the story for Geralt was to find out what happened to him which led to his amnesia. This to my knowledge was never unraveled. This memory never recovered, thus we never knew what happened between the Striga encounter and sudden appearance of Geralt at Kaer Morhen.
  • Romance. Though partly optional, you may choose to pursue a serious romantic relationship with either Triss or Shani. I chose Shani for personal reasons. In doing so, I was hoping for some oil painting sequence…any sequence indicating a possible “happily ever after” background story with Shani. But it doesn’t happen. In fact, the whole plot was suddenly dropped into oblivion. It was just a few lines for a quest and that’s it. What the fuck?
  • The Witchers. After the Kaer Morhen encounter, the witcher’s part to seek answers regarding the “mysterious mage” and the bandits with Salamander badges. What happened to them? Come on, you know that you were expecting to meet them in some part of the story, right? Seriously.
  • Supportive Cast. Dandelion, Shani, Zoltan Chivay, Triss. What’s their story? Why was it never deeply discussed? Dandelion mentions a High Vampire friend, but there was no continuation of that story (besides meeting the girlfriend), Shani barely mentions her past from some unknown battle, Zoltan well that dwarf has got have past issues with Geralt, Triss has a brief encounter with the Lodge of Sorceresses. Where are all the details? Just in simple writings in the journal…one liner dialogs in quests; all that bait but never the main course? Why bother in creating something deep when you just want to wade your feet in the water? Alvin…what the hell really happened to Alvin? Don’t give me one line in a dialog to explain everything! And what the hell does the King of the Hunt have to do with anything in this story?

The only fully explored story was the tale of Carmen the prostitute…only noticeable after talking to nurse in Old Vizima…mentions that Carmen was cast away by her father…a reverend of the Sacred Fire in the Outskirts, because she became pregnant. Ring any bells? That with the addition to the Werewolf tale (if you don’t kill him) is one masterful short fairy tale. I don’t think it would be as wonderful if you did kill the werewolf…and not particularly interesting in finding out either.

Bugs and Similar Issues
Surprisingly for something this spec heavy and at only version 1.0, the game does not inhibit an anthology of bugs which I’m used to for PC games (kiss my ass, Gothic 3 development team!). Minor crashes occur here and there, usually when I’ve played more than 5 hours straight. The game does get a little slow in Vizima which is easily fixed by again using minimum settings (again). Loading takes awhile and I think I already mentioned the auto save issues.

There one bug that prompt me to restart, it’s an inventory bug…where you keep items at the local innkeeper. If you store weapons there, it creates a “permanent ghost image” of all the items stored there hereinafter. So took a couple of items from your storage, exit the inn and return again (a loading sequence must occur), the items will still be there, though several items of the same type will only be reduced to one item.

This nice little bug only becomes a problem when you’ve stored too many items, which promptly creates a very long loading process ending with an instant crash after. Had to restart my game again after that and no longer stored weapons in the storage. But other than that, no bugs were tantamount unlike some game developers I know (you know who you are! shakes fist)


The Bottom Line
Putting it briefly, the RPG element in general and combat specifically in witcher is a distraction. If you take away the combat, you really wouldn't miss much, since it’s obvious that it focuses as a story-driven “adventure” game. They could've just made this an action-adventure game without any form of RPG elements in it and it'd still work.

The story was refreshingly well written, but I still can't shake off the notion that it wasn't finished or even rushed for that matter. The plot introduced a lot of “bait” which gave hope that there were more sub-stories, but it never surfaced. The ending was a grave disappointment for me, as it really didn’t sum up all the effort, the character building of the cast within the plot…I never really liked “unfinished endings”. Reminds me of Quest for Glory 3…and that was a major bummer…since the only one who enjoys such endings are only the writer but never the reader.

In summary, it's a great game with a story. I would recommend it as an adventure game, however, I would not recommend it as an RPG. Better wait for Fallout 3…which I will no doubt again…trash. Cheers.

Windows · by Indra was here (20750) · 2008

Contributors to this Entry

Critic reviews added by gukker, Alsy, Jeanne, COBRA-COBRETTI, Cantillon, FloodSpectre, The Fabulous King, Solid Flamingo, KazikluBey, Picard, Cavalary, Scaryfun, Patrick Bregger, Tim Janssen, Dae, Sciere, Stratege, Wizo, Yearman, jaXen, katarn_88, PolloDiablo, Xoleras, Big John WV, chirinea, Jacek Brzeziński, lights out party, 666gonzo666, CalaisianMindthief, beetle120.