*This is a guest article supplied by one of our fans, courtesy of Ben O’Brian.
We’ve all played RPGs before. From The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion and Souls titles, to the JRPGs stemming from the Final Fantasy, Dragon Quest franchises; The Witcher, created by developers CD Project RED, takes a slightly different style of gameplay to what you may currently be used to.
While originally being released in October of 2007, The Enhanced Edition (EE) was released in September 2008, featuring changes to animations, new NPCs, and a new inventory system that dramatically helped with loading times; almost 10 years on from the EE release, the game still holds up to some pretty high standards. Graphics that are still acceptable, good quality voice acting and what’s more the start to an impressive story line. The game was released on PC originally with a Mac OS version 5 years later. A version for the Xbox 360 was also in development, Entitled The Witcher: Rise of the White Wolf, but was cancelled after issues between the developer and CD Projekt RED.
So a little piece of background, of whom you play as and what you’re doing…
(Some minor spoilers may follow – Nothing new if you’ve played Witcher 3)
You play as Geralt of Rivia, one of the last surviving members of a group of monster hunters named The Witchers. The Witchers are taken as children and are put through intense training in magic and sword fighting, subjected to rituals, and given potions that are designed to mutate their genetics, making them infertile in the process, but giving them amazing, near superhuman abilities – Think of them as medieval Spartans, given their similar backstories.
If the subject survives all of this, then you have yourself a trained Witcher; a result meaning that they are no longer considered human. At the start of the game you find yourself being brought to a location called Kaer Morhen, A Witcher “School”, with no memory of your past. After some basic tutorials integrated with the story opening that introduces the main antagonists, who attack the school.
One of the things that make this game a little different is that it has 3 different styles of camera; two isometric angles and an Over the Shoulder (OTS) angle that is more common. The isometric angles offer a mainly mouse orientated style of gameplay and offers a better view of what is happening around Geralt. The OTS angle is what has become to be a more common angle of gameplay. Personally, I preferred to use the OTS view as that’s what I’m used to within various games that I have played, but this causes a slight issue with the combat system. It was primarily developed for the isometric angels so can be a little weird while in the OTS view by starting to attack monsters behind the camera view. This has only happened once or twice based on when I’ve been swamped with enemies around me.
On the other hand, the combat system has been very well thought out. With most of the weapons available to you, there are three different fighting styles: Strong, Fast and Group. The strong style is best suited to when you are fighting enemies that are larger and slower than yourself, the fast when you’re facing a more agile opponent, and when your surrounded by 3 or more the group style. Each style has its’ own benefits against its’ corresponding enemy; just like using the correct sword.
After progressing through the game you will have two different types of swords available to you; your generic steel sword and your silver sword. While you can use either sword against any opponent, each sword does better against specific opponents. The silver sword is designed for monsters that you will come across during your adventures and the steel for when you get into a scrap with humans outside the local pub.
My introduction into the Witcher series was when I started playing The Witcher 3; after going through a small portion of the game and then not understanding any of the references to previous games, I made the decision to start from the beginning. Going into the game, I was surprised by what I came across, the quality of the story telling was impressive (Albeit not up to scratch with the quality of mode day games).
Through conversations that happen during adventures to books that can be found or bought, the sense that there is more to find is strong. Having originally intended to get through the game as fast as possible, I find myself now digging to get that little bit more information, waiting to complete various quests in case it cuts off the ability to finish other quests and finally, one hundred and twenty five hours later I finish. This is a game that dragged me in and refused to let me go.
This game is a brilliant introduction to the series and I would implore everyone to go back and play through this game, but keep in mind the 18+ age rating. (Through the game I found that one of my goals would be to find as many sex cards as possible achieved through creating an intimate relationship with female characters). The score that I give is based on the quality of gameplay and the way the graphics have held up over almost 10 years, but a higher grade would have been received if the game had controller support.
Overall I would give this game a solid 7.5/10.
Game available from here: http://bit.ly/2q4RTGR (link to steam web)