The Witcher is Polish RPG developed by CD Projekt RED STUDIO and published by CD Projekt in Poland and by Atari in the rest of the world during the October 2007. The game takes place in the world created by the Polish author Andrzej Sapkowski.
For this review I used the Enhanced Edition of the game, which was released as separated version for sale as well as free downloadable patch 2008. The chances introduced in the Enhanced Edition contains some dialogues cut out from certain versions of the game, few minor graphical tweaks, new animations, improvements in loading times as well as improvements in dice game. It was also required for the installation of 1.5 patch, which among other things removed DRM protection, something which I had huge problems with. The Enhanced Edition offered much more, like additional adventures, but those should be discussed in separated review. For this review Enhanced Edition was used mainly for making the game stable and playable.
The Witcher uses BioWare’s Aurora Engine, successor to legendary Infinity Engine. Due the engine The Witcher resembles somewhat to Neverwinter Nights 2, which uses the same engine. Luckily The Witcher is more beautiful; in fact I still get surprised how good the game looks when ran at decent computer.
Now, even though The Witcher looks great with decent computer the same can’t be said when played with lower end computer. This is of course understandable, but there will be some serious problems with computer nearing the minimum system requirements. One serious problem, which made me to neglect this game for nearly three years, was that with lower settings strange stretching would occur when objects or part of the objects were drawn to the screen. For example the wing of bird could suddenly become three to ten times longer, and the same thing could happen to nearly everything ranging from the plants to the shoulder of Geralt. Even though I understand that the graphics would and shouldn’t be good with slower computer this kind of stretching was just unacceptable, especially since otherwise the game ran fine. Luckily this sort of thing hasn’t happened with my current gaming computer, which should be more than enough to run any game I can think of.
While the graphics are very good the perfect score still stay out of reach. This is because there are some clipping problems, especially during cinematics. What this means is that, especially the hair of characters, has tendency of appear in a way that it looks like the hair comes through the head. This looks very ugly and it is shame that problems like this happens with a game otherwise so beautiful.
The background music of The Witcher can be considered good as it brings nothing special to the game while still enhancing the general atmosphere of the game. After a session, even longer one, I can’t remember how the background music was except that it was there and it fit the game. While some may complain that it was too generic and didn’t stand out enough I say that the music did the job which it was meant to do.
The sound effects are very good, and the world feels more alive thanks to those. Clashes of weapons, dogs growling, coughing and everything else falling to this category are well made. At one point I noticed that I relied quite lot to the sound effects for determining if there were any aggressive monsters or humanoids around. Several times I also had to check my surrounding just to make sure that the sound effect I heard was just some background stuff. These kind of small things enhance the experience a lot, especially while travelling through an area which is known to be dangerous.
While the background music was good and the sound effects were better the real thing that shines in audio is the spoken dialogue. Each important character has specific voice, and at least I didn’t notice any occasion where same voice was used twice. The accents and styles of speaking were fitting to the character, and there just weren’t any moments I had felt that this kind of speaking shouldn’t come from this character. A nice addition is also that all dialogues are spoken, even those lines or twos that can be heard from any random NPC the player meets. Everything has been acted, and that’s something not many game can claim to have done.