The Witcher Reviews

Two more reviews for The Witcher have surfaced, though both are less enthused as the others have been. Thunderbolt gives it a 7/10. One of their cons being "Breasts go where?"
Choices are central as well as one of the most interesting parts in The Witcher, and it's not often that they're cut and dried either. Most choices the player faces will be shades of grey, with neither alternative entirely satisfying. Consequences will haunt the player afterwards as well, as you can be sure someone won't be happy about the choice you've made. Perhaps you decide it's fairer to execute a criminal rather than imprison him, but his son disagrees. He may lie in ambush later in the game, ready to take his revenge. The Witcher also handles some rather adult matters, especially sex, earning it its 18+ rating. You won't actually be seeing too much, and certainly nothing explicit, but Geralt can build up relationships with female characters, by either seducing them or doing them favors, and then... *ahem* reap the fruits of his labor. If you're lazy, there are always prostitutes as well.

Innovative as it is, The Witcher suffers from some rather annoying flaws, but that shouldn't stop you if you're into this type of game. Newcomers to the genre may be put off, but the ethically ambiguous questions faced do present a certain kind of draw. It's a game that I wanted so much to love, but in the end it ended up being just a decent RPG with interesting but not particularly memorable characters and the opportunity to be a total jerk, which is always fun.
GameCell UK goes along for another 7.
Anyway. Once I'd that dealt with I was struck by another of The Witcher's obstacles to game play the intro and subsequent cutscenes. The glorious, scripted, in-engine, frame rate-eating cutscenes. They take absolutely ages. My first fifteen minutes was spent simply watching the game strut its stuff and attempt a hasty set up for the first proper play segment. Which was subsequently too hard. I appreciate the attempt to get the player to grips with the action as soon as possible after the lengthy preamble but it's badly handled here. You're thrown in at the deep end wearing concrete shoes, with insufficient tutorial pop-ups and no clue as to what is going on. I'm of the opinion that The Witcher makes a messy, poor first impression, with minimal charity for the novice and the unskilled and a near terminal dose of befuddlement that is only partial accounted for by your character being an amnesiac.

But after the first hurdles The Witcher spends the rest of its play time trying to make up for the very shaky start. You play Geralt, a milky-haired monster slayer called a Witcher, prancing about in a fantasy world created originally by Polish author Andrzej Sapkowski. But this is gutter fantasy, the traditional RPG tropes of evil orcs and noble elves turned on its head and it makes for a refreshing setting. The developers CD Projekt have made the most of Bioware's Aurora engine, and the scale and detail in the locations is impressive, if plagued by numerous loading screens. It's a gritty, deep-feeling world set in the aftermath of a particularly nasty war where nobody now really trusts anybody else. The human settlements you encounter give the distinct impression of a society seriously on the wane, and the distinct differences in the setting compared to every other RPG ever made make The Witcher feel fresher and more exciting. The world looks and feels seriously lived in. And the elves are now all terrorists apparently.