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LTTP: The Witcher

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LTTP or ‘late to the party’ pieces are opportunities for me to catch up and write about games I missed out on the first time around. They may contain spoilers.

I bought The Witcher because the sequel piqued my interest and because it was on sale for a measly $5 from GOG.com. I wanted to get up to speed with what The Witcher was all about before investing in this Polish born franchise. The birthplace of this game is worth noting because of the reputation that follows games made by Eastern Bloc developers. They tend to be ambitious with a sizable amount of unpleasantries with regards to polish and accessibility. And for The Witcher, the reputation remains true.

The structure of The Witcher was very transparent partly because of how slow the narrative transpired and how much time I spent trotting between quest objectives and quest givers. The absence of fast travel took a bit of adjustment after spending so much time with modern western RPGs, but once I dug in and located a few teleport points, things became tolerable.

I didn’t expect the combat to be a rhythmic and time based. It took a bit of adjustment time to get used to it, but even when I was winning fights with hordes of undead swamp monsters involved, I still felt that I didn’t fully grasp or use it to its full potential. I could dodge, but never felt the need to. All I kept doing was switching sword styles and anticipating the appearance of the flaming sword mouse cursor. With minimal effort timing, I was able to extend sword strikes and keep enemies in stun lock; I couldn’t die if I kept on the offense in most cases.

The Witcher’s narrative had potential of being as engrossing and interesting from top to bottom. But the developer’s reuse of NPC assets and awkward voice over performances interfered with my enjoyment of the game’s stories. The protagonist, Geralt of Rivia’s, monotonous tone was strangely appropriate and I found the dwarven and elven characters to be fine as well. However, nearly every other character — especially Alvin — was terrible. Some of his lines were terrible to the point of entertaining, but it was mostly just poor like those children from Heavy Rain.

But if I ignore those shortcomings, there was political intrigue, sexual conquest, racial discrimination, detective work and even dispelling of curses born from incest. I really enjoyed exploring and participating in the world of The Witcher. Quests like seeking out the best dice poker player could span multiple chapters and allow me try new and different things while seeking out those who have wronged me. (Surprise, it’s a tale of vengeance.)

Speaking of dice playing, the most polished portion of the The Witcher was that mini game. It was the one moment where I found myself admiring the attention to detail and production. If only the rest of the game was like that.

But alas it wasn’t. Years from now when I think back to The Witcher. I won’t be thinking about how I made choices and allied myself with the non-humans. I’ll be thinking about the series of events which summed up The Witcher for me.

Freak of nature child, Alvin, and I chased after a local witch who fled from the villagers that blamed her for the recent mishaps that have plagued their village. I found her holed up in a cave with her cauldron and decided to help her. (Now it’s important to note that she’s one of the sexier witches around.) Apparently, deciding to help protect her from the angry mob somehow led to Geralt laying with her with Alvin watching. He was right there, I saw him in the background while I was talking to her and when the “intimate montage” wrapped up, he was a few yards away from the witch and I.

The Witcher was messed up like that, but I’m glad I gave it a chance — I just hope I never see that kind of nonsense in the sequel

Verdict:
Worth a Try

Ratings Guide

For more information on The Witcher, visit the official website.

2010 PC Rev. 1.1 was used to play The Witcher.

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