Yayınlanma: 27 Mayıs
Note: This reviewer played this game for the first time in 2015
The Witcher's strongest feature. The narrative in the game holds your attention due to its morally gray character motivations as well as its well realized central protagonist. Modern RPGs are plagued with the "fetch either an angel halo for the gods or a dead baby for the demons" choice system. The Witcher's choices are very gray at first glance, and for much of the game character motives are wonderfully opaque. This leads to real thought, and at times regret, for decisions you've made.
The other issue RPGs have is the "build your own protagonist" system a la Skyrim. This becomes tantamount to there being NO protagonist but instead a soulless fetch quest runner who gets to witness the other ACTUAL character fulfill their motivations. Geralt is his own man, with his own mindset. There is plenty of choice in this game, but no matter your decision, its Geralt making that choice in the narrative. If you kill someone it'll be in a way Geralt would kill them, and likewise if you show mercy. Choice is not diluted and neither is character development. It proves unbelievably refreshing in a world of nameless chosen ones out to fulfill some prophecy or whatever.
You can tell The Witcher is a freshman effort by its dev team in a lot of technical places, and the sound is no exception. the farther you get into the script, the better the voice acting (and likely, the voice actors' directing) gets, even for characters we've known since the beginning. Its a small gripe but its there. The music is wonderfully moody and neither overpowers nor fails to be noticed. I have walked away humming numerous central melodies.
I imagine I'm being cruel here, but it is nearly impossible to review an eight year game on the first playthrough with no knowledge of the gaming technologies of today. Having said that, The Witcher realizes its imagery well enough. Environments are focused on capturing realism and largely succeed. Character models serve well enough and have a large enough pool of animations to suffice, but in the end like all older Bioware engine RPGs, you become very familiar with how exactly someones hands will move when excited, happy, indignant, or surprised. Facial expressions are non existent, which unfortunately is probably the only thing holding its story from a 10/10. I imagine for its time, The Witcher was stunning.
So many people will not make it to the best this game has to offer because of this. With a hindsight view of singleplayer ARPGs, The Witcher proved difficult to get into in terms of gameplay. Its either a hack n slash with the soul of Baulder's Gate, or the exact opposite, I'm not quite sure. All evasion/parrying is dice based, like a DnD rpg. All combat is based on clicking a target and essentially playing a rhythm game by clicking again at the next part of the attack combo. Clicking too early ends everything and leaves you vulnerable to damage. Also, The Witcher's combat is heavily influenced on its characterization of Witchers. This is fine, but it means you must know three fighting stances for three different scenarios with two different swords. Each fighting stance has its own tech tree on each sword, leading to 6(!) tech trees governing your auto attacks, all with essentially the same generic talent as the others. It can be maddening.
Other aspects that plague the Witcher are its attempts follow realism into laughable conclusions. For example, drunkenness is a big thing in this game, but you walk so slow when drunk its not functional. You can sleep this off, but you can only rest at campfires or inns. There's no fast travel (I repeat: no fast travel) meaning on more than one occasion I took ten plus minutes of gameplay to stumble out of a house, into the street, down to the slums, and into an inn to sleep off the drunkenness. Other cases of this would be quests where someone asks for six monster teeth. You cannot simply kill six monsters. You must educate Geralt in how to properly extract monster teeth. You do that by reading books or finding someone who is willing to bring it up in casual conversation. There are almost no indicators of any kind within the game as to where this information is, and every tooth, tuft of hair, berry you pick, or potion you concoct requires a source of knowledge first. Couple that with, again, NO FAST TRAVEL, and youre going to be backtracking. a lot. And married to a witcher wiki if you're a completionist.
I am already planning to attack this game again with my new understanding of its mechanics, as well as apply my knowledge of the world come the end of it to the events that occur in the beginning. There is a plethora of choices and changes in this game, all of which tempt the player to return again.
I realize only the plot scored this high, but the Witcher truly is a whole lot more than the sum of its parts. I highly suggest playing it now, as the window of its first-play-through-enjoyability is closing. Newer and shinier games with simpler, more user friendly systems will come to make hindsight playthroughs of The Witcher like mine a task too onerous to tackle. This is a real shame, as the Witcher tells a story like books do, with various motives and questionable decisions. It skirts so many videogame narrative tropes of "The Chosen One" or the "Mute Protagonist" and pulls itself above the rest because of this. Play this now, before you can't stomach it, or windows can't run it.