“There is no good, no evil – only decisions and consequences.”
Deep themes, stemming from an overall non-humans (elves) vs. humans (including the mysteriously mutated Geralt) conflict, permeate this high quality, action/role-playing game with a nice international flavor. The Witcher (Wiedźmin) has a nice, non-linear storyline based on the fantasy writings of Andrzej Sapkowski, which consist of several short stories ("The Lesser Evil" comes with the game) and five novels. This storyline is full of great cut scenes and consequential impact based on player decisions during gameplay.
Players must choose the lesser of two evils as the main character, Witcher 'White Wolf' Geralt, a white-haired human/mutant assassin. Geralt has recently lost his memory and must stop the antagonists who had the know-how to do this to him. Sweet revenge, but the game is deeper than that. The chaptered storyline requires players to discover his origins for purposes of exploration (this world is huge!) and heroism (lest this mutation process falls into the wrong hands). Other missions like tracking down troublemakers can be quite challenging, while other quests are easy and short – a decent mix that keeps gameplay from going stale. The combat controls/format also enhance this exciting experience.
Discovering what Geralt can do is a game within itself. Choose among group, speed, and strong attack styles while discovering countless combat combinations. Players get a medium shot view of the action or the amazingly cool over-the-shoulder point of view. The attack controls work smoothly using more finesse and timing than button-mashing plus they have some nice heavy “chain” attacks/finishing blows. There’s a bit of a learning curve there, but the same can be said for other elements like learning and achieving the “Circle of Death”. Feel free to show off these skills once mastered as players get talent points based on the standard medals (bronze, silver, and gold).
Combat action (carry four weapons at a time) combines with potion combinations (i.e. sign elements) and item collection processes to produce approximately 250 special abilities players can use to win any task they might face in this immense game. Attacks incorporate the left mouse button, while the supernatural sign spells utilize the right mouse button. After the carnage, players press the ALT key for object/character interaction while they see what items to collect.
Players get top notch, artistic graphics while encountering many moral dilemmas, like keeping items from being stolen or letting those items help desperately sick people. The dialogue seems choppy and out of place at times, but contains plenty of humor, innuendo, and biting insults. There are also plenty of incentive-filled mini-games and side missions along the way. The “drink up” games can be very amusing, though you’re at an obvious disadvantage if you lose.
A solid title incorporating mixed morals (protect the innocent yet take advantage of any lass you can) and justice themes, which help produce a very high replay value. A great international voice talent cast anchors a choose-your-own-adventure type plethora of storylines/endings. A great soundtrack by Adam Skorupa and Pawel Blaszczak really heightens the action and represents stronger musical support than most movies get.
Hopefully any possible sequel will allow you to play different characters and improve loading times. The smooth controls, engaging combat, and appealing originality make this PC title a must have.
The Witcher is rated M (Mature) by the ESRB for Blood and Gore, Partial Nudity, Strong Language, Strong Sexual Content and Violence.