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The Witcher: Review

Released in 2007, the Witcher is a PC RGP game made by CDProjeck (a Polish game maker/publisher) based on a series of books of the same name. The game was re-released with an Enhanced Edition in 2008. The game uses an interesting combination of sword fighting, magic and alchemy, all of this on top of a well-realized Dark Age setting. The Witcher uses a fixed protagonist: Geralt of Rivia, who happens to be the main character of Andrzej Sapkowski”˜s books. The game is fully voiced and the actors for the English version are pretty good (IMHO). The Enhanced version fixes the dialogue problem (the original North American version had crappy dialogue at the request of the NA publisher) and other shortcomings (like loading time) that the game had upon release. Although, my favourite aspect of the game is the ambiance.

Like all good Dark Age-based games, we need monsters, whores, gambling and alcohol (+18 rating game). The setting is really crude and quite misogynistic. Strangely, as a woman, it didn’t bother me much, it actually felt “right” (well, besides that one time where I rolled my eyes). Usually games set in that time period are all the same, but the Witcher avoids the cliché shiny medieval setting and goes straight for the lowest denominators of the time period: inquisitions, racism, noble vs the poor, etc. The world isn’t all flowers and rainbows and the first chapter of the Witcher punches you in the guts with its grimness. You can see whore in the street (and pay for their service, although you just get a porn card out of that), you can gamble by playing dice poker with a few people (fun mini-game and you make lots of money out of it), you can drink until you pass out or compete with others at drinking, and you can participate in fights in bars. All of these are optional, but help to set the setting’s ambiance.

Witcher swamp
The Swamp, I hate drowners

Of course, having people in different places at different times of the day also helps with the ambiance, as does the day/night cycle and the monsters that come at night or live in the sewers/swamps. A Witcher is all about hunting monsters, so there are a lot of them, they all have weakness and reading books on monsters will give the player access to specific information and monster-related ingredients that can be using to make potions.

In term of gameplay, combat isn’t that amazing, it’s pretty much click, wait until “sword” glows, and click again. The game isn’t really demanding in that aspect, except when it come to sword fighting/stance type. Witchers have two swords: one for monsters, one for non-monsters, and three fighting styles: strong, fast, and group.They have five signs of magic, each with different effects. The combat difficulty resides in switching weapons and fighting styles depending what you are facing. Each enemies are weak to different combos of weapons/fighting style and it’s the player who needs to decide which one to train and use. It’s also possible to use magic, but some of the signs are rather weak or not that useful.

 

Witcher Vizima Outskirt
Vizima Outskirt - starting area of the game -

The Witcher also gets access to potions and potions making.  Certain characters give access to the “sleep” icon, which is actually Geralt starting to meditate, in that mode it is possible to spend skill points into the different category: fighting styles, magic, and the attributes. While meditating, it is also possible to make potions, oils for weapons, and bombs. Oils mostly just add extra damage to weapons against specific creatures, bombs, well they are bombs, but potions have multiple uses. Some increase regeneration of vitality or endurance (what is used to cast magic), some give the ability to see in the dark, others give damage bonus at the cost of defenses, etc. But drinking potions come at a price, they increase the “toxicity” bar, so the player needs to choose wisely which potions he will use; you can’t drink all of them at the same time.

The Witcher is a good game, if you can endure some of its flaws: back and forth between areas, so-so combat, and combat focused last chapter. The game quality comes from the ambiance, the main characters, and the lore. Might not be for everybody, but with 40+ hours of gameplay it’s worth it for people who like RPGs and have some time to spend.

Its sequel releases on May 17th. If you want to try the game, buy the Enhanced Editions for much improvement over the original version.

2 replies on “The Witcher: Review”

Hi!

Thanks for your review, I’ve been interested in this game for a long time, and now I know more! Also it’s great to have a game reviewer who takes things like these (also racism, …) into consideration, because most gaming sites don’t and I can’t trust them fully .
Question: Is the mysogyny in the game more general or does it veer into very rapey territory? Because I can deal with the former, but not with the latter.

The witcher 2 is coming out soon, will there be a review as well? It’s great that y’all feature game reviews on Persephone, I greatly appreciate it.

Hello,

There is mention/insinuation of rape in the game. I haven’t encountered any visual. But Geralt is “pro-woman”, as the player, you get to save the defenceless ladies from the bad people (and get rewarded by sex depending of the dialog choices. Which I avoid…). If you are still interested in the game, it’s $5 on GOG as a digital download for a limited time.

There will be a review of the Witcher 2, once I get the game (already bought and downloaded…the 17th can’t come soon enough) and I get to finish it (which mean it will take about 3 weeks).

and I’m happy to provide game reviews for Persephone. ;)

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