Review by Ofisil

Reviewed: 01/26/16

The reason for The Witcher's popularity? Probably witchcraft...

The reason for The Witcher's popularity? Probably witchcraft...

His name was Geralt of Rivia, and this is his first videogame adventure as the titular Witcher; an elite warrior who specializes in slaying supernatural creatures, and who has altered his biology through the use of some special mutagens in order to be stronger, faster, and immune to all diseases - apart from amnesia, that is (and getting wasted with booze). Yup, once again the story begins with the main character losing his memory, and, as usual, this hasn’t been used in any creative way. Geralt will meet a couple of characters that claim that they know him, he will explain that he doesn’t remember them, and that, is, it. That doesn’t mean that this will stop him from finding out who laid siege on the Witcher stronghold, stealing their secrets, and killing one of his kin in the process. He decides going straight to Vizima; a land that has succumbed to corruption and evil.

While just another medieval fantasy land, The Witcher’s world is not a Tolkien-esque realm of simple good vs. evil. There’s no black and white here, and, just like the real world, Geralt frequently faces moral crossroads, where the only “good” choice is usually the lesser evil. The problem is that, while the plot is somewhat well-written, the overall presentation leaves a lot to be desired. One notable example is how it handles the issue of war between the two main factions, the humans and the non-humans, who are collectively known as the Scoia ‘Tel. While there are parts of this particular segment of the storyline that are good, usually this doesn’t really leave an impression, first, because it’s hard to care for any of the characters involved (with the protagonist being a lousy attempt at an anti-hero “tough guy”), but mostly, because of the excruciatingly slow pace of the game - even for an RPG.

The available quests consist of simple ones, such as killing a certain number of monsters or finding a needed item, to the more complex missions that force the player to do a bit of detective work, which translates to interrogating characters and, very frequently, doing an errand or two for them. Unfortunately, quests are simply boring, since, instead of being challenging and/or thought-provoking, they feel like a tedious chore, with Gerald having to run back and forth between locations, and very frequently not even getting to fight something on the way to the next step - not to mention that the Journal system is a bit flawed, with quest markers frequently showing were an NPC might be, although he/she may have decided to go to the tavern, since most characters walk around the place during the day/night cycle of the game.

The worst thing by far, though, is the awkward fights. Instead of a simple hack ‘n’ slash mechanic, this follows a somewhat pen-and-paper-ish one, where clicking on an enemy makes Gerald start doing some elaborate sword choreography, with the only interaction needed after that being some more clicks when a certain cursor flashes, enabling him to keep on hitting the enemy with even better combo moves. Besides the fact that the controls are not that responsive, this is can only be described as sleep-inducing - and the fact that at least 70% of this adventure is about slaying the - very few - available enemies is not exactly encouraging. Furthermore, the rest of Gerald’s “tools of the trade” aren’t that impressive either; spells are useful, yet battles still heavily rely more in swordplay, and while the way The Witcher handles the brewing of specialized alchemical potions will initially seem quite innovative, it will soon prove to be nothing that unique.

Generally, there are a hundred little ways that this constantly goes back between greatness and mediocrity. The levels are detailed, pleasantly dard, bleak, gloomy, and… medieval-looking, but they become boring way too soon, since nothing really stands out; the music is of triple-A movie quality, but it gets repetitive; the voice acting is either very good, or feels forced, like, for example, Gerald’s “Batman” way of talking; and, finally, while this game clearly has a more mature and realistic approach to things, it feels very childish at the same time, with two perfect examples being the overabundance of F-bombs, or how the hero can have sex with many of the - one-dimensional - women available, just to collect… trading cards(?!?) All these, however, wouldn’t be a problem if this lame excuse of an RPG wasn’t so freaking monotonous.

Story: 6.8/10 (x 0.15)
Presentation: 4.5/10 (x 0.15)
Gameplay: 3.5/10 (x 0.20)
Replay Value: 2/10 (x 0.10)
Graphics: 6.5/10 (x 0.10)
Design: 6.5/10 (x 0.10)
Sound: 6.5/10 (x 0.10)
Music: 6.5/10 (x 0.10)

Score: 5.1/10 (2.5 Stars)

It’s hard to understand the reason behind this title’s popularity. While the story and - dated - visuals can give some sort of pleasure to the average role-playing gamer out there, the hours of tedious chore-like quests, along with the slow and clunky swordfights that must be endured, completely ruin what little value The Witcher has. As for the supposedly “wonderful” story, yes, it’s dark and “realistic,” but far from wonderful, since it drags on too much, and at times tries so hard to feel mature that it gets… silly.

Rating:   2.5 - Playable

Product Release: The Witcher (EU, 10/26/07)

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