It is inconceivable to praise this game without even mentioning the developers behind it and the creator of The Witcher. Indeed, thanks to CD Projekt Studio, Andrzej Sapkowski's wondrous creation has been brought to life to the delight of all. Moreover, their renown is widely recognized and they proved to be very attentive to gamers feedback. Free upgrade in the form of an enhanced edition for both The WItcher and The Witcher II and a sequel (the latter) rid of marked flaws of the former.
With today standards, and gamers including myself getting more and more demanding in terms of graphics, it is sometimes difficult to get back to old games. I'm one of those who like to understand what is going on while playing a game, not be overwhelmed by the flow of information, so it was natural to think about playing the first instalment and not moving straight on to the next as this one was specifically designed to introduce the world and characters.
I commend the developers for the care they put into their game, for past the graphics, everything else was particularly lively, thanks mostly to the sounds. Besides, it is necessary to point out they used Bioware's Aurora engine, from which they admitted to be fairly limited. Great voice acting, though the characters animations failed to convey their emotions. I was quite frankly amazed by the possibilities in this game. From sleeping (or rather meditating), playing dice, fistfighting, through eating and drinking (hangover that may ensue) to having sex on numerous occasions. With the day-night cycle, I really felt like having a real life there in Vizima.
Even though The Witcher is about unnatural things, fairy races and superpowers, it deals with mature subjects as politics, racism…that look just like what plagues our societies. What's interesting is you play as witcher Geralt of Rivia, who comes round from a long-time coma and lost his memory. You don't know anything of the character and have to learn about yourself through conversations with long time acquaintances. Was Geralt someone good, bad? All that matters now is what path will you choose. The decisions you make are meaningful and with impactful consequences. War is raging between nonhumans and humans and picking sides is never easy. Remain neutral is often seen as the best option, the easy one but remember, you won't be able to remain neutral for evermore…
A very lengthy game for it took me around 50 hours to finish it. I'm not very fond of lengthy games but this one was full of content and the story was praiseworthy. One thing to mention is the poorly made opening, which was quite dull to say the least. A pity considering that most of us would quit playing assuming that what comes next would be as boring. It really picked up my interest, let's say after chapter 2 where things started to get interesting. At the beginning, you also get acquainted to the "special mechanics" of this game. Though the combat system criticized (baffling), to me it turned out to be effective. You have to be attentive to what kind of enemies you're taking on to switch from different combat mode (strong, fast or group) and from one sword (steel) to the other (silver). If you're generally used to frenetically click on the mouse, you'll be severely disappointed as you need to pay attention to the changing form of the sword icon in the middle of the screen. Only when it turns to its ablaze form may you click again to perform a combo. It's a very rhythmic approach. The movements were really slow and a bit unresponsive for the most, so I had to be patient with this one. Another annoying aspect of this game was the cloned faces. Seeing the very same character, though being someone altogether different was somewhat…confusing.
Though it has the look of an open-world game, it is a bit misleading. Each chapter has you enclosed in a different section of the game's world though they are large. Deep background, there is a lot to learn, from the races, through religions to politics. Having started The Witcher II, the first instalment had me familiarized with the Witcher's world and I strongly advise you to do the same if you have not.