The Witcher Reviews

Two more high-mark reviews of The Witcher are available online, including both a short one and a long one. First, Gameplanet is impressed and gives no rating.
Possibly the biggest reason why there has been such interest over what appears from the outset to be just another single-player, quest-completing, monster-slaying clone is that, well, it's not. Developer CD Projekt has embarked on their own quest to remove repetition and prevent the typical "save game" decision making you'll find in other titles by bringing those decisions back to haunt you literally hours after you've made them. In a master stroke, this really is the bad curry of the genre, and gamers will be able to use the mistakes made to better understand the character and storyline, making for truly immersive gameplay.
Next, GameTap is also impressed and gives it an 8/10.
Probably the most fascinating, and best aspect of The Witcher is its portrayal of the law of unintended consequences. Unlike most RPGs, where you have a binary good/evil choice that you immediately experience the effect afterwards, and can simply load a save to immediately check out the other option, The Witcher uses a sort of timed-release mechanic on your choices. To prevent spoilers, I'll use an example from Chapter One. Early on, a merchant asks you to guard some goods from monsters; after slaying said monsters, some elves come up and claim that the goods are theirs. Whatever you choose to do here won't have repercussions until a significant time later. If you let them take the goods, those elves will use them to murder someone you need to talk to hours later in Chapter Two. Kill the elves, and later on, when you try to find a different elf, he gets murdered by humans who found the remains of the elves you killed and backtracked their way to the elf you need to talk to. These moments are explained via a flashback summary that illustrates what early decision resulted in your present situation.

As a result, I found myself seriously considering my decisions, rather than making a quick choice--which in turn made situations like a bank heist or a military standoff that much more memorable. Many of these decisions aren't just binary good/evil affairs; they are more "lesser of two evils" affairs. Do you side with the villagers to burn the witch that summoned a hellhound that's been terrorizing the village, and has indirectly caused the death of other townsfolk through other actions, or do you go after her accusers after finding out the three primary accusers are a murderer, a rapist, and someone who sells children into slavery? It's this blend of opaque morality plus long-term consequences that make The Witcher stand out among other RPGs.
In addition, Eurogamer deems it one of its 12 Games of Christmas.