The Witcher Review

GameSpot has reviewed The Witcher and is pretty impressed by "one of the most engrossing, mature RPGs to arrive on the PC in years," handing it an overall score of 8.5/10.
It shouldn't be much of a surprise that the line between good and evil here isn't a very thick one. Everything is a murky gray. The first act is simply astonishing in how it plays out. You start off trying to track down the bad guys who raided your witcher fortress and killed one of your pals, but soon get involved in a feud that pits the religious leader and nobles of a hamlet against a witch. However, nobody's hands are clean. One merchant you deal with is in cahoots with the evil cult you're hunting. A guard you help with a ghoul problem turns out to be a rapist. The village priest you're helping cleanse the region of a demonic dog called "the Beast" is actually a misogynistic lunatic. And the witch isn't much better, given that she's sold poison used in a suicide and employed a voodoo doll to make one of the local bigwigs kill his brother. By the end of the act, in a showdown complete with burning torches and pitchforks, you're forced to choose between the woman-hating, rape-loving, cult-affiliated mob and the murdering witch. It makes the most sense to side with the witch because the villagers are an awfully sleazy lot, but doing so forces you to slaughter virtually all of them and leave their town burned to the ground.

So no, The Witcher sure isn't all sunshine and lollipops. But even though you might need a few Prozac pills to handle the game's bleak tone, the story becomes incredibly compelling when you have so much riding on your actions. Characters seem like real people, not the good-evil-neutral triad of stereotypes that populate most fantasy games. Only a few aspects of the story and setting remind you that you're just playing a game.

A lot of this is probably due to poor translation from the original Polish. Dialogue seems truncated in many spots, which leaves you in the dark as to character motivations. You know something important has just taken place, and the interface clearly points out what you're supposed to be doing, but the big picture doesn't completely come together.