I got this game on a sale for 1.49 EUR and it was the best deal ever, it turned out to be amazing. It's not for everyone however, as it's quite long, you need to pay attention to the story and get used to the clunky combat - you'll either love it or give up in the first few hours.
I started the game to see what it's like, struggled with the fighting, played half an hour until it suddenly crashed and I realised I didn't save the game. I didn't really like what I saw first, but I decided to give it another chance. Fortunately, the dialogues are skippable, so I could continue almost immediately and this time I read the tutorial more attentively and managed to find out how to properly kill enemies. As the story progressed, I got more and more into it and started to enjoy the game very much.
Even though the game came out in 2007, it's beautiful. The environments are detailed, colourful and interesting, most places are not just visually but aesthetically pleasing. Heck, even some dark crypts and caves look exquisite here and there due to the nice colours and great lighting.
When you start the game, you have to choose a style you want to play it in, and you still have the opportunity to change this anytime. You can have an isometric camera or OTS, so you can play point and click style, and also in third person if you want to (I chose the latter). Being inexperienced with RPGs, I played on easy. My character became pretty strong eventually (maybe too strong for this difficulty), yet there still were a few challenging parts to balance that out.
As you play, you gain XP and level up. While meditating, you can access the skill tree, which looked a bit complicated at first, but it makes perfect sense. Alchemy is pretty useful, especially for bigger fights, I haven't used any bombs though.
The gameplay is not particularly interesting on its own, the story is what makes it special. Sometimes there's a lot of running back and forth, collecting things, which gets boring after a while. I was very grateful for the few fast travel options we got.
On the other hand, there are lots of side quests to keep you busy. Some of them are of the general collect-this-and-I-reward-you
tpye, and there are more important ones as well. Some side quests enrich the story a lot
and have an overall impact on how you experience it, so it's definitely worth completing those.
It's doubtless that this is the low point of the game. The first time I saw Geralt grabbing a sword and swinging it around above his head like an idiot, I laughed out loud, I thought it was a bug. (Later though as I applied more talents on the swords, he became a much better fighter.) To evade attacks you need to dodge by pressing one of the direction buttons twice or more times, depending on how responsive it wants to be in the current situation, I had some trouble sometimes when Geralt got cornered. To attack, you need to click on the enemy and do not click again immediately, doing so will cancel the attack. Only click again when the cursor changes, allowing you to do combos if you click in time. It definitely takes some getting used to.
Collect as much information as you can on the enemies you have to face, it's important to read the Journal, especially the pages on Monsters to learn what they're immune to, where they can be found, which fighting styles are efficient against them. It helps you a great deal. The Signs are very useful and fun, too.
The controls during combat are pretty awkward sometimes, even if I had the right fighting style selected, I couldn't attack or hurt the enemies. I had to switch to another style and then back for it to decide to work again.
After the low point, here comes the best part. The story in this game is incredible
. It's very detailed, very deep and exciting. The dialogues are filled with humour and deep philosophical thoughts here and there.
The world is consistent, the characters are likeable and unique, after a while you find yourself caring about many of them. They all respond to your actions and choices. There's quite a number of decisions you have to make that (sometimes pretty heavily) affect the story and your relationship to certain characters. I loved the amount of freedom I had in the game, I was never forced to get in an intimate relationship with any character or play dice, etc. - it's entirely up to the player.
The way women were portrayed though - boobs, boobs and more boobs. I've seen more boobs in this game than my own. :P Jokes aside, I simply had to play very carefully when others were in the same room with me, because almost every woman you can interact with is um... underdressed. Good for Geralt I guess. ;)
As you play more and more, the story just drags you in - even if you don't like the combat or the gameplay, it's definitely worth to play this through just for the story alone.
Animation and voices
This is something I wasn't entirely pleased with. Yes, it's not a game from today, but the characters often looked very stiff, which is not a good thing when there's a lot of dialogue. Another thing which detracts from the experience is the mediocre voice acting. First I found it very awkward, but got used to it eventually and after a certain point it simply didn't bother me anymore.
(I kept finding the same character models throughout the game though, now that did annoy me a bit.)
Music and atmosphere
The music was pretty great, fast paced and dark when needed, beautiful and calming while exploring beautiful areas. It really spiced some great moments up. Same with the atmosphere, the time of day really sets the mood of some locations, as well as the occasional rain and storms.
I also loved the art style, there's some gorgeous artwork during storytelling parts.
+ nice visuals
+ amazing story with brilliant dialogues
+ great music and atmosphere
- combat might be hard to get used to
- bad animations
It took me 46 hours to finish the adventure and it's become one of my all-time favourite games. If you can get used to the combat and want to take a break from no-brainers, I highly recommend The Witcher, it's going to be an amazing and unforgettable experience.