Operation Backlog Completion 2024
Jun 202016

The-Witcher-coverLast Sunday, I beat The Witcher. Then E3 started, and while there are still E3 topics we could discuss, it’s time to give The Witcher its due.

(Technically it’s The Witcher: Enhanced Edition Director’s Cut, so the premium version of the original game.)

After completely missing my goal of catching up on the entire Witcher saga before The Witcher 3 came out (last May), I finally moved on from the books to the games.

Let’s talk about the gameplay quickly. I played on Easy because I wanted to worry about alchemy as little as possible, so I’m not the best judge of the game’s admittedly-unusual combat system. Instead of typical action RPG combat, you attack through timed clicks after selecting one of three styles: one for strong but slow attacks, one for fast but weaker attacks, and one for multiple enemies.

You’ll pick your style based on the type of enemy you face, as well as picking your steel sword for fighting humans or your silver sword for fighting monsters.

You can also cast magical signs, such as Aard (telekinetic blast) or Igni (fire). Then there’s alchemy, which lets you create potions, bombs, etc. using ingredients you collect from fallen enemies. Alchemy, as well as selecting traits from your talent tree when you level up, are two of the possible actions during meditation.

Overall, I found the basic gameplay fine, although the limited inventory drove me crazy.

The story picks up after the end of the saga told in the novels. Knowledge of the books isn’t critical, because Geralt has mysterious returned from the dead with amnesia. The amnesia isn’t a huge part of the story, but it does make it more accessible.

On the other hand, the game is filled with references to the books, which is awesome. Dandelion in particular is a goldmine for references, but there are plenty more.

I loved catching references to the novels. The game’s story was also enjoyable, with some interesting twists and turns (and a blatant reference to H.P. Lovecraft, which was fantastic).

It also had good characters. I expected to mainly enjoy seeing familiar characters return, but it also had its share of original characters I liked quite a bit. (Like Kalkstein. Any other Kalkstein fans? He was great.)

Like many other western RPGs, The Witcher lets you select dialogue options and make key choices throughout the game. Unlike a lot of them, it often resides in a morally gray area. Which is the right choice to make? There is no right or wrong answer, but you have to decide.

(And maybe you dislike both sides and want to stay the heck out of it. You can, to an extent, which I greatly appreciated… especially after my frustration with Dragon Age II.)

Other choices are smaller, like deciding who to help in a side quest.

There are side quests aplenty, both monster contracts obtained from notice boards (which are decent except that the contracts inexplicably take up inventory space and must be put into storage) and regular quests given by NPCs. NPCs follow their own schedules based on the day/night cycle, although you can advance to a particular time through meditation.

And there’s rarely a single main quest that advances the plot, but rather several story-relevant quests that eventually lead you to that point.

A lot of the story quests were really fun and the story’s pacing worked well, although Chapter 2 dragged on a bit and Chapter 5 felt too linear. Nevertheless, it all came together for an epic conclusion that leaves me excited to play the second game and see where the Witcher saga goes next.

In short, it’s a great RPG and I definitely recommend it… especially if you’ve read the Witcher books. What are your thoughts on The Witcher?

Buy The Witcher Enhanced Edition Director’s Cut from Steam
Buy The Witcher Enhanced Edition Director’s Cut from GOG

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