His name was Geralt of Rivia. He was a witcher, a professional monster-slayer. An unusual contract: to lift the curse that held a monarch’s daughter. It was enough to spend the night with the princess. Dusk till dawn. If only she were not a deadly beast, a striga…
The traitor responsible for the curse became the bait.
Though gravely wounded, the witcher lifted the curse and gained fame. The world changed with the coming of the Great War, the Time of the Sword and Axe, the Time of Disdain. Geralt of Rivia disappeared, all but forgotten… But that’s another story.
Geralt of Rivia is a man who walks a lot. He is the witcher, a mutant monster hunter with magical abilities. In this first entry in the best-selling series, Geralt travels around the land of Temeria from one place to another, whilst running various errands for the locals. Temeria may be a beautiful vast land, but during most of the game’s fifty-hour campaign you are just doing laborious tasks for small change. The Witcher will eventually start getting interesting towards the end, incidentally when its gameplay starts becoming more linear.
The Witcher is an action RPG, similar to a more mature version of The Legend of Zelda series. The game can also be played in an isometric fashion similar to the Diablo series, but I prefer the over-the-shoulder 3rd-person perspective myself. It feels much more immersive and closer to the action in this angle.
The attention to detail in most parts of the game is incredible to watch. The Witcher’s animated intro, for example, manages to show us all of the game’s various facets whilst telling us the story about how Geralt came to meet princess Adda. At the same time, the jaw-dropping character models, buildings, and landscapes make glitches stand out like a sore tooth. Weeds in the swamp stick out through your boat whilst it passes over them and reusing the same character models for different main characters during various acts are two of the comon occurances.
Geralt always carries two swords with him and puts them to good use. You will need to use one of the swords when facing humans, and one for monsters. Known as the White Wolf, he also has three different combat stances in his repertoire. A strong attack, a faster one, or a slashing swing to be used when fighting groups of enemies. You will need to adapt your strategy according to the situations in which you will find yourself in, and when all else fails, you can count on your potions to finish the job.
Potions can be bought from various vendors or brewed whilst meditating. There are a variety of potions that you can concoct, giving the Witcher a range of enhancements if you are so inclined. Meditation is also required to distribute the talents that you obtain after each level gained. These will be used to improve Geralt’s combat stats or to give him new abilities such as skinning monsters or making bombs.
You will get occasions to trade for weapons, food, and herbs. Although this is not a major aspect of the game. Most of the items can be picked up during quests anyway, but money can come in handy. Playing dice poker is a way to get some coin, apart from being an interesting diversion. Every great game needs a popular minigame that all the people of the kingdom are going crazy about.
Apart from the flowing blood-spilling, the Witcher’s mature rating is no doubt due to Geralt’s sexual encounters. Although in reality, the game shies away from showing the full-blown act. The journal keeps track of all of your conquests though, encouraging you to try and sleep with most of the women in Temeria. However, what makes the game truly mature is the decisions that you have to take. There is usually no right or wrong way, you will have to choose to side with whom you deem to be the lesser of two evils. You just have to appreciate that your decisions will have consequences later.
So how does The Witcher fare against newer games nowadays? Its sequels were so outstanding that most people suggest that you don’t even play this one and start directly with the second outing. However, whilst The Witcher is mostly a game that tries to find its footing within the fantasy world that it’s derived from, it establishes some of the best characters in modern fantasy and carries them over to the sequel in the form of a save file. In The Witcher, you can solve problems by drinking just as you would by cutting someone’s throat out and that’s the point of the game. Become a badass, and solve the problems in any way that you prefer and you will have your own story to tell once you reach the end of the series.