The Witcher Retrospective

Eurogamer offers a retrospective on CD Projekt RED's the Witcher cRPG, discussing the amnesiac mechanic, Geralt as a PC and the stories within stories and moral greyness of the game.
The decision that stuck with me most came on my first playthrough. Having journeyed to an out-of-the-way swamp and completed several of the local quests, I had to choose one side in a conflict: the rebel force or the authoritarian soldiers. Neither side is explicitly good or evil, and you can see the point of view of both.

The rebels are made up of the non-human races (elves, dwarves and the like) and are victims of racism. They've been forced from their homes to live on the edge of poverty. With barely enough food and water for their families, they have taken to obtaining these things by force, which in some cases has led to innocent humans being caught up in the fighting between them and the authorities. You can see the persecution and, in most cases, it would be simple enough to side with them to fight against the 'evil' empire that imposes such oppression.

Except that here the empire isn't evil, and nor is it even your enemy. From the soldier's point of view, the rebels are effectively terrorists and it's not them forcing the suppression on non-humans, but society as a whole. Though the authorities are doing nothing to redress the balance, their interest is in keeping the peace and stopping any further attacks by the rebels.

So do you lead the imperial unit to the rebel camp to rout them completely, or do you lead the rebels in a pre-emptive ambush on the imperial guards camped in the forest? I felt that as a Witcher I should remain impartial and not get involved in the politics, so I continued to go about my business, determined not to help either, although it seemed that neither would attack the other until I acted and both would be stuck in their respective camps for game-time eternity. Eventually I left the swamplands, willing to leave that particular branch of the story unresolved, such was my feeling for remaining true to the neutrality of the Witcher ethos.