An excellent game here.
It's been quite a year for fantasy fans with titles like Skyrim and Dark Souls, and now we have another classic game to add to the list! and what a wonderful game it is.
This is what would happen should you put George R Martin's Game Of Thrones and Elder Scrolls: Skyrim into a blender. Add a touch of norse mythology for good measure. Dark and intriguing plot filled with many characters that are masterfully developed (especially for a game), simply jaw dropping graphics and presentation to boot..
- Story, Spoiler Free
The game is set in a norse mythology rich medieval world. Geralt of Rivia, our protagonist, is a Witcher. A professional monster slayer for hire, and an intelligent character with a good sense of black humour. The game is set in a beautifully realized fantasy world where an unknown assasin is slaying royals with a great degree of skill. The game begins with Geralt in a dungeon, being taunted by guards. Soon he is taken from his cell by a knight, who attempts to get to the bottom of why Geralt is imprisonned. During this prologue of the game, Geralt recalls several memories of the events leading to his imprisonment. He recalls a political battle from beside the king he is a hand to, lending his powerful magic and swordsmanship to the throne. The story is so in depth and of a grand scale that to write it down here would take a long time, so to cut things short, Geralt is wrongly accused of assasinating the king, and with the help of his lover and a band of unlikely individuals must set out to find the real killer and clear his name. There is an absolute myriad of sub plots, twists and political intrigue going on with a variety of characters of various races and realms. Dwarfs, Elves, Humans, etc. This is one of the best stories I have ever seen in a game and I couldn't stop playing. Even the side quests have multiple outcomes depending on choices you make, and what you chose to say (or manipulate) to characters.
- Atmosphere and presentation
Immense. Dark, grotty, rich and thoroughly immersive. The art style is magnificent. I would say it just about trumps even the greatest of the greats (skyrim included). I can not express how believable this world is, it felt so perfect in every way. Lush forrests, dank medieval towns filled with colorful and interesting people, ancient ruins, underground caves... just about every possible location you would expect from this genre but with a certain degree of detail that is rarely found in games. I often find large RPG games to be a bit lacking in the details, favouring the grand scheme of things and copy pasting scenery endlessly. This game comes on 2 disks and I highly recommend an install to your hard drive for the breathtaking environments, inside which every nook and cranny has been crafted with love. There are tons of hidden areas to find, lore enhancing perfection. The towns feel alive and bustle with some really great scripted events. The game is certainly adults only, with many themes that you wouldn't want your mum to see. The graphics are completely BEAUTIFUL. I couldn't believe how nice some of the areas looked on a console game (having played the latest PC games on a high end gaming PC) I was thoroughly impressed. The world is just gorgeous. The soundtrack is very epic and the games sound effects are solid and realistic. Top marks here.
It is somewhat linear when compared to games like Fallout or Skyrim, as there is not as much open map exploring so this may dissappoint some players. But there is a ton of exploration within the areas you are presented with, so this made up for it for me. If you prefer a little more direction than a fully open world, you will love it. Even if you do like open sandbox style RPG you will still love it. It feels more to the style of Final Fantasy games than Elder Scrolls. That aside, the game is very similar to the original. We have Geralt leading the way 3rd person camera style with dialogue trees and a really excellent set of dialogue at that. Combat has a really unique system going on. It's real time, blocking and swinging your weapon and casting your spells. You have whats called 'Signs' which are in effect magic spells that Geralt can cast during battle, they are somewhat limited in use but offer various perks such as knocking foes down, traps, fire blasts... and many more. The combat is deepenned by a strong upgrade system and customisable potions that change your performance in battle. You can also craft your own potions from ingredients found on your travels, and also coat your weapons with various oils for desired effects. Of course you can craft armor, weapons and even change your hair style at the barbers. The game is filled with all kinds of enemies from monsters to knights, and each has a weakness that can be discovered in a variety of ways such as reading books, overhearing conversations and general trial and error. The combat is seriously challenging though and you cannot simply run in swinging your sword, you must plan ahead by chosing the correct potions, weapons and oils. You can't use potions during fights either which makes your pre-battle decissions important. I highly recommend you dont play Hard mode or Dark mode on your first playthrough as you will quite simply get trounced. It took me more than 15 hours to truely get to grips with the combat system, and start slaying enemies properly. The game rewards you for clever strategy and punishes you for running in like an idiot. Quests are also really greatly done, and you never feel like a messenger boy or errand runner for generic NPC's that will give you coin. Sometimes a simple quest will branch of into a subplot that you never expected, offering an even deeper look into the story.
So after all that gushing, time to get to the problems. There are very few in my opinnion but I will mention them to be fair. The worst of the problems for me are the graphical glithces. While they are minor, it does become annoying at times when textures don't load properly, or pop in and out during character discussions. It's nothing major by a long shot but after a lenghty play session you do notice it. Another gripe I have is the difficulty, right from the get go. This is a thinking mans game and I have to admit I was a little bit perplexed at the start. After clocking several playthroughs of games like Demons Souls I'm no stranger to difficult games, but even so I fouhd it hard to get used to the combat at first. Once you do get the hang of it though, it is incredibly fun. So be warned, it will seem brutal at the start!
Some of the plot can get a little hairy, but granted there is so much going on you have to accept that not every single line of dialogue will be delivered coheerantly with all the choices you have made up until that point. On VERY rare occasions, characters will seem oblivious to your previous actions. Another thing that I am certain will be fixed with a patch, is sometimes quests will break and you have to reload a save. Honestly though after the stormcloak of bugs in Skyrim I was crying tears with joy by the end of this game. These are somewhat minor blemishes on what is a perfect porcelain statue. I found so very few things that I dislike about the game which for me, makes it a masterpiece. (It's just so damn close to perfect). One thing I will mention is the length of the game, as I know you RPG lovers will want to know how long your life will be on hold. After completeing just about every single on of the sidequests along with the main story, I clocked in at 59 hours my first play through. But bare in mind the game has multiple endings and just about every quest and mission has a different outcome depending on your choices. So replay value is super high!
Just great. Absolutely great. Don't miss it.