Tuesday, November 01, 2011

The Witcher - Enhanced Edition (2008) - PC - CD Projekt Red Studio

About two years before the much feted Dragon Age Origins  appeared on the scene The Witcher had been getting the love PC RPG fans.  At that time I didn't really give much thought to PC gaming so it fell in the cracks for me (I was all about Elder Scrolls Oblivion anyway).  Last month I saw The Witcher: Expanded Edition for $15 on Steam and figured what the hell, I'll give it a shot.  I'm now about twenty-ish hours into the game and I have to say I'm pretty impressed.  Is it the world's greatest RPG?  No but it's really good.

The basic premise is you play Geralt, a Witcher, who supposedly died (I keep waiting for the game to make the same Snake Plissken jokes I've been making) and has returned from the grave with amnesia.  Witchers are basically humans who, through alchemy and somethin somethin, have become more human than human in order to combat monsters, gribblies, and undesirables.  The downside is Witchers have been broken as a cohesive force and there are less than a handful left.  Regular human beings have taken their defense into their own hands and now view the Witchers with fear and contempt.  Yeah it's a well worn theme but The Witcher makes it work.  Geralt has to deal with humans and nonhumans (elves, dwarves, etc) and is constantly getting shit from all sides.

What I like about The Witcher is that it somehow manages to breath some new life into dark fantasy.  Truth be told, playing this makes me wonder how many of the Dragon Age creators we fans of The Witcher.   While some of the side quests involve "get me ten of this" some of the side quests are actually kind of intense and long running.   CD Projekt Red Studio is a Polish designer/distributor out of Warsaw and I think there's an Eastern European flavor to the game as well, a certain hard edge that Western games try for but miss 95% of the time.  This certainly is not a Peter Molyneux fantasy romp.  Plus The Witcher is certainly one of the more adult games I've played in awhile, not cheezy Kratos boot knocking, but this is an adult themed game.  Geralt is kind of like Ian Fleming's Bond, he's very good at killing things, drinking heavily, and having sex with bodacious chicks.

Now if you haven't played The Witcher and give it a shot you might be put off by its graphics.  It's not Battlefield 3 and there are times when it makes Dragon Age look pretty.  Really though the graphics are pretty solid and everything looks the way it should.  There's no character customization or party set up - you've got Geralt, which is okay since he's fuckin bad ass.

Controls are, well, never really having played a PC RPG actioner before it's taking me some time to get used to the keyboard & mouse control set up.  Now I know why the trackball mouse is so popular among PC gamers.  I guess I could go through the effort of mapping a controller but that would require effort.  I like the quickness of accessing menus and hot keys of the keyboard but exploring and camera control still kind of pisses me off sometimes.

This game looks like it might have some legs on it since I'm twenty hours in and only in the first or second chapter of the game.  I've been surprised that actions have consequences - a doofus statement I know but how many games promise this and the consequence is worthless or absurd?  I saved a cat from a tree later I received a sandwich from the cat's owner.  Derp.  Not all the secondary quests have blinky lights over their heads so tracking them down makes for some fun in the game.  There are one or two parts I've gotten a little frustrated at but I figure answers will be forthcoming.

The Witcher worth picking up if you're in the market for some dark fantasy PC goodness.

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