The Witcher: Enhanced Edition PC Review

An epic tale where the fate of the world is in your hands right from the start. You play as an unknown hero and will travel across the land and bring down justified violence on monsters of all shapes and sizes for no other reason but because they are different and after this you go after the trouble that threatens the world and vanquish it. This is the standard skeleton for a plethora of RPGs from Final Fantasy to Oblivion, safe, predictable and, after awhile, tiring.

The Witcher, developed by CD Projekt, breaks away from this. Released in 2007 and re-released a year later, it gave a fresh perspective on a stale genre without straying too far to become uncomfortable. It throws away the idea of an epic quest of epicness given to an unknown hero and instead goes with a rich  narrative with an excellent source material at its base.

The Witcher, based on Andrzej Sapkowski’s novels, is a game where you take control of Geralt of Rivia, a character already firmly set into the world you are playing in. Everyone knows him, he is rooted into the very world as a famous Witcher, part of a group of people dedicated to fighting monsters. Geralt is not a blank slate, an unknown person given an extraordinary destiny, He has a back story and connections to the world.

At the end of the main series Geralt was presumed dead and this is where the narrative starts. At the beginning of the game he is found unconscious by a group of Witchers. By the time he is conscious he barely remembers who he is, but this doesn’t extend to everyone else. Thanks to this we get to shape Geralt in a different directions compared to the original series without sacrificing who he was in the books. The main plot isn’t about some grand escapade but a journey through a rich land. Instead of a story where characters just drift by as the main characters go through with their quests, the interactions between the characters is what drives the story. This is a different way of telling a fantasy story and it ultimately makes for a much more rich narrative.

The combat system in The Witcher takes a different approach to the standard left click until dead approach most PC RPG games take, in favour for a timing system. Instead of the usual clicks of the left mouse button you have to stance dance between strong, fast or group stances while timing your clicks to build up combos. This gives each swing of the weapon a more visceral feel as if each swing is important and each miss more impact on the flow of the battle. This set up takes a few tries to get used too but once you learn it the battle system becomes more rewarding and immersive.

The menu systems on the other hand do not stray too far from the usual RPG set up with everything having a designated tab and should feel very comfortable to most players of RPGs. The biggest difference The Witcher employs is the skill menus, it forgoes the skill tree specialization most action RPGs have for a more jack-of-all-trades style where you have to pump up all the skills equally to take down certain foes. If I had to compare the menu system to another game it would be Oblivion for the sheer amount of information in it.

The Witcher looks and sounds amazing, as long as you get the Enhanced Edition, sound wise anyways. On both the standard and the Enhanced Edition the graphics are superb making the environments and character come to life. The Aurora Engine has never looked better especially when compared to a game like Neverwinter Nights 2 showing how much time was spent making it look good. The sound, for the most part, remains the same on either version except the voice acting. Originally the script was sloppy when it was working and head ache inducing every other time, but the Enhanced Edition fixed most of this problems with a new scripted lines.

The Witcher is a fresh take on a stale genre, but is it for everyone? No. Should you give it a go? Yes, not just for its impressive visuals on an aging engine or the deep world and characters, but because of how well it blends both parts into a coherent whole. If nothing else pick it up because there’s boobs if you get the enhanced edition. Sex sells and if it has a bit of violence it sells well.

Score: 8 out of 10

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