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The Witcher (Windows)

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100 point score based on reviews from various critics.
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Written by  :  Indra was here (20919)
Written on  :  May 09, 2008
Rating  :  4 Stars4 Stars4 Stars4 Stars4 Stars

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Summary

[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…”

---

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.