Page 1 of 2And so, after over four years of waiting, The Witcher has finally stormed retail shelves. Given the fact that I just recently posted an extensive hands-on preview, I'm not going to talk a whole lot about the game's mechanics again. What I will do is give an update on my experiences with the game in the dozens of hours I've played since that article was written. The Witcher is quite long and broad in scope (even by RPG standards), so I wanted to make sure I was able to tell you exactly what type of game you should expect. Therefore, I've been spending almost all of my free time with it, having just finished the game this morning after clocking in well over 60 hours.
While The Witcher kicks off with the somewhat overused "hero with amnesia" bit, you'll quickly realize that Geralt is not your typical hero and that the world you're traveling through is considerably different than what you've seen in previous role-playing games. Temeria is a land plagued with serious social issues and political conflicts, which (for better or worse) makes it a far more believable place than the usual high fantasy settings we've seen in other games. As Geralt, you'll spend a lot more time working with battered prostitutes, power-hungry political figures, and a womanizing bard than, say, a friendly farmer who's tired of wolves killing his livestock. Your primary goals are to recover the witchers' stolen secrets and to seek out another witcher named Berengar, though you'll soon discover that there's a plethora of other contracts, quests, and other loose ends to take care of along the way. Rest assured, you'll never run out of things to do, as you'll usually have access to at least a few different quests at any given time.
As you progress through the game, you'll encounter both trustworthy and seedy characters, many of whom are figureheads for various far-reaching organizations, such as the Salamandra, Scoia'tael, Temerian intelligence service, and Order of the Flaming Rose. At pivotal points of the game, these very same characters will present Geralt with tough decisions with no obvious answer. These decisions usually deal with Geralt's humanity (or lack thereof) toward others or his stance toward an opposing organization. Should you slay the guard captain stricken with lycanthropy or let him continue preying upon Vizima's criminals and other degenerates? Should you "free" the blue-eyed lass from her alleged vampiric keepers, as her brother requests, or keep an open mind to what might really be going on? Do you ally yourself with the Order of the Flaming Rose, take a stance with the non-humans, or pursue a neutral role? The results of such decisions aren't typically made known until much further into the game, so each one requires careful thought. Regardless of which routes you choose, The Witcher's storyline hosts a considerable number of plot twists and angles that will have you speculating all the way up until the final moments of the game.
Without a doubt, The Witcher is a mature-themed game. In addition to dealing with some tough real world issues, sex, violence, and foul language are in abundance. Typically, this adds a considerable amount of realism to the game, but there are times when it does go a little over the top. Most of these instances are for the sake of a little comedy relief, but I couldn't help but shake my head when Princess Adda demanded to see Geralt's "sword" or when the monster-slaying protagonist told the Lady of the Lake that she has a nice ass. If you don't give in to Geralt's apparent promiscuity, however, these moments are few and far between and don't detract from the overall experience.