Players: 1 Player Game | Release Date: 10/30/07 | Genre: Role Playing Game
CD Projekt's long-awaited The Witcher has arrived on the PC and features a very dark and gritty storyline with a world full of grey areas and characters that all have their fair share of flaws. Based on the Polish Novel The Last Wish, The Witcher places you in the world of Temeria and is built on the Aurora Engine that was used in Neverwinter Nights. CD Projekt attempts to blend the gameplay of NWN and Diablo in The Witcher but is the game worth playing through?
Players control Geralt of Rivia who begins on a quest to stop the people who invaded your fortress and murdered your friends. But soon after this, the game moves to a a religious leader and nobles fighting a witch. This is where some of the really dark elements of The Witcher show up as all characters involved in this world have a major character flaw. Even the people you save have major flaws. For example, would you really chose to save someone's life if you knew that they were a rapist? In fact, you will have to make a decision to side with the town full of flawed characters or a murdering witch. But choosing to side with the witch will result in you murdering all the people.
Although toned down for the US release, The Witcher also contains many adult elements that earn its M rating. Around every corner, Geralt will get to have relations with practically every woman he meets. The game does not show any graphic details--outside of a card showing a seductive pose--but the European version contained much worse. Usually PC games are not censored in this way but because these scenes don't seem to fit with the game and offer no visual reward, I scratch my head at the reason for the reasoning behind keeping this in the game.
The Witcher also seems to have some translation issues. The story has a very epic feel to it but it is as if the story was summarized for the US instead of being fully translated. This leaves the player scratching their head from time to time and takes away from what could have been a really great story. Besides the translation, The Witcher also suffers from random language that is completely out of place. You will be going along, playing the game, encountering dialogue, and then out of nowhere your character will say a slew of four letter F words. This feels very forced and the game could have been easily enjoyed without the random use of profanity.
The Witcher attempts to bring a whole new dynamic to the combat system. Players left click an enemy to initiate an attack and then click again at exactly when the sword strikes the enemy. If you click early or late, your attack will fail and you will have to start over. The problem with the system is that there are no clear instructions on how to use it and no help from within the game. To resolve this, players will probably want to start out the game on the Easy difficulty setting. This provides them with a visual indicator when to click on an enemy and will help you get used to the system. This leads to yet another problem. You can only select a difficulty setting at the beginning of a game. So you will have to start over to increase the challenge.
Once you grow accustomed to the combat, you will greatly enjoy it. CD Projekt could have really made a name for themselves if they implemented some tutorials and provided a way to change the difficulty settings during a game. However, with a little tweaking, future titles could greatly benefit from the combat found in The Witcher.
As the player progresses, you will find party members that can be hired into your group and a variety of skills to obtain. Instead of concentrating solely on a single class, you will slowly begin to master all skills in the game. I for one don't mind this but some hardcore players may not appreciate it.
But with a gritty and mature story, an awesome combat system, and built on an engine that brought us Neverwinter Nights, The Witcher is a slightly flawed title that is worth checking out. While it certainly isn't one of the best games of the year, as a PC title trying to do some original things, it stands out as a title fans of the genre should find fun.