Review: The Witcher

The game was released in October 2007 and slipped under the radar with not many taking notice of this gem. It was then re-released a year later as an enhanced version with bonus material and this is when we woke up and saw how great this game really is. As I have been recently graced with a copy of the enhanced version, I will be sharing with you the grandeurs and the flaws of The Witcher.

Opening up the large box I was spoilt with extra content including guidebooks, maps, a soundtrack and bonus DVD. First impressions show that this is not a small game with the amount of installation DVD’s provided. After a lengthy installation I was keen on starting up this game and immersing myself into the story but alas my journey fell short. Immediately I had graphical glitches that made the game unplayable, after applying the most recent patch which mind you was no small download, most of my graphic issues were resolved.

Let’s rewind and give this puppy another go, we start up the game and are complimented with a long introduction video giving us some clues as to the character known to us only as The Witcher. As with most RPG games the introduction videos are grand and always get the player motivated to play. The story is slowly revealed, you are known as a Witcher which is basically a mutant trained for the purpose of hunting monsters for money, or Orens as the currency is known as in the lands of The Witcher. Your name is Geralt and you start your journey at the castle where Witchers are trained, you have lost your memory and are slowly piecing this together as you quest. The memory loss scenario has been done before but it works good to assist a new player to familiarize themselves with this new world.

One of the first things I noticed when playing was the level of detail, they spared no expense and voiced all the dialogue in the game. The graphics are extraordinary and really take you away into this fantasy world, using the Aurora game engine to its full potential. You may remember titles such as Oblivion and Fallout 3 using the same game engine.

The interface is minimal when playing and quite simple, using the space bar to pause and prepare for each attack. You will find that you will be using this pause feature quite often to change spells as you can only use one at a time and also your weapons, for example monsters are more susceptible to silver weapons whereas humans take more damage to steel. Taking advantage of hot keys can help out in reducing use of the pause. Most of the gritty number calculations are done in your character screen where you will put talent points into different areas depending on your playing style, strength for the brute, intelligence for the caster and so forth. But what I have found is that you will tend to evenly spread your talent points as you will need everything that is offered in the abilities to accomplish tasks in the game.

The game play is mediocre at best; it is not difficult and does not really leave a lot of room for different playing styles. The combat method is the same throughout the game and does feel monotonous. You need to time a left mouse click to continue a combo move and every so often double tap a direction key to avoid being overwhelmed with attacks, after awhile this gameplay style feels bland like you forced yourself to eat a whole pack of plain crackers. I would of liked to see more depth in this area, perhaps some combo style play such as in Assassins Creed and Conan Online.

Where The Witcher makes up for gameplay is story, it keeps your attention and really makes you want to find out the ending. The game is packed with cut scenes and plenty of side quests all fully voiced with dialogue, although the quest log can get quite full and confusing on where you are up to.

All in all, the game is brilliant. You have an amazing story, memorable characters and develop a rapport for Geralt. The areas have been designed beautifully, from dark misty swamp areas crawling with monsters to the dirty over populated castle villages packed with beggars and whores, all this really helps build an atmosphere. The gameplay does have room for improvement and some minor annoyances such as the quest layout, I also did continue to have minor graphic glitches but this may be due to driver issues. If you can overlook some of the flaws and got some time to kill before Diablo 3 comes out I would strongly urge you to give The Witcher a go, you will find many parts of the game are reminiscent of the great Diablo series.

Rating: ★★★★★★★★☆☆

About the Author

Nightshadow is an avid PC gamer, but occasionally strays off to the Xbox360 for some console action. Frequent writer for Gameolio - he has a strange obsession for uniquely flavored soft drinks such as Cherry Coke, Passion Fruit, and Buzz Monkey. Currently Playing: - Mafia II - Age of Conan - Red Dead Redemption