The Witcher 3 is the third and final installment in the Witcher series. The games are a continuation of a trilogy of Polish fantasy novels, and is produced by a team called CD Projekt Red. The games are vivid, expansive and have incredible atmosphere based on European folk lore. You play as the main character, Geralt, who is gruff but well rounded. The game’s story begins with trying to find Geralt’s estranged wife, Yennefer, who has been missing for years. After completing a couple of quests and going on your first monster hunt, you get some information that Yennefer is actually in a nearby village. After finally catching up to her, she convinces Geralt to come with her to meet the Emperor of a foreign kingdom. This Emperor happens to be the biological father of Geralt and Yennefer’s adopted daughter Ciri, who is still missing. Along the way, you encounter the men of the Wild Hunt and are introduced to the main antagonist group of the game. Without much knowledge of why the Wild Hunt is pursuing Geralt or even what they are, you must travel the country to stop them and find the adopted daughter.
The Witcher 3 has a simple yet challenging system for advancing in each quest. Geralt must locate each area and track down clues using his Witcher Senses, which can be anything from following a footprint or scent to examining wounds on a victim. The world is massive and has over 100 quests to tackle. The quests can be found in various ways ranging from word of mouth from NPCs, coming across strange occurrences, and even on notice boards in villages and cities.There are 4 different types of quests you can take on as a Witcher; these include Main Story, Side Quests, Witcher Contracts, and Treasure Hunts. The story and side quests are generally more time consuming and usually push you into new areas of the game. Witcher contracts are a little less common and require you to hunt down a beast such as a Griffin that may be terrorizing a village. The treasure hunt quests take you on an adventure for coin and better equipment.
As an example, one of the first quests in the game tasks Geralt with hunting a Griffin that has been terrorizing a small village. Geralt asks several questions about the Griffin and determines he must start by searching a site with several victims of the Griffin. He discovers a trail leading to what he believes will be the Griffin’s former nest, but what he actually finds is another Griffin that has been slain by soldiers who were too hasty to attack and caused the actual problem. Geralt learns through observation the dead Griffin is the mate of the one harassing the village and its death is the reason why it’s attacking so often.
Geralt then must set out to fight the enraged Griffin. This proves to be an epic battle that is comparable to the great battles spoken of in old hero tales. Geralt faces the Griffin with a fellow Witcher and must take advantage of the Griffin’s weaknesses to be able to make a dent in its health. Upon defeating the Griffin, the player receives a trophy and experience. The trophy offers special bonuses and there are several others like it in the game for completing similar deeds. This opens up the exploration aspect and shows one of the best qualities of the game.
Art and atmosphere are a huge part of the Witcher’s world. The world always seems to have the perfect setting for each quest from beautiful hunts through a forest, to a an eerie bog that you’re forced to wander through following a trail of treats. Music in every scenario is always on point with a score of blaring trumpets and violin being played at their full extent for battles, and flutes chiming in for enchanting moments. The character designs are detailed and well thought out, even down to Geralt’s beard. Loading screens offer comic style depictions of recent events with a voice-over explaining the scenes. Overall, the tone of the game is captured beautifully at every part and comes together like an enchanting storybook.
Game-play in the Witcher is very different compared to most modern games. The camera is always in third person and Geralt’s movements feel more like an MMORPG/Elder Scrolls hybrid than the normal run of the mill mechanics. Your progress in the game heavily relies on you using herbs and recipes you gather to make potions to heal or buff you instead of just going to a potion shop to stock up. Healing is also a little harder and done either instantly through meditation (which refills your potions as well) or a regeneration effect that heals slowly over time in or out of combat. Combat is also slightly different, with two swords to keep in shape so you can switch between fighting humanoids and the monsters you hunt or run in to in the wild. There is no block or parry option for swordplay either, only a dodge option for trying to take less damage. There are a few other features including fast travel that requires sign posts instead of being immediate, and a fear level to gauge your horse’s willingness to not run off on you.
The Witcher has a lot of great qualities, but of course there are also a few setbacks that one should consider before deciding to invest in the game. The biggest issue this game has is directing where the player should go or what should be done next. The map offers little to go on without zooming in to a point you can’t look at a large enough area to plan where to go exactly. The ingredients needed to craft potions can be hard to find, especially with limited map markers. The game also doesn’t give a lot of information about the processes of leveling up and increasing abilities, or where to get better equipment. Essentially the game expects you to explore and experiment to learn most of the game’s trade.
Who is this game for? The game suits lovers of MMOs as well as western RPGs. The main factor would be your feelings towards the horror genre.The Witcher 3, while a fantasy game, is very gritty and can easily strike a few anxious nerves especially in the more faint of heart players. It is also a lengthy game and will be best for gamers who love to spend upwards of 100 plus hours inside a game. Overall if you love games like Skyrim, fantasy MMOs and Mystery/Suspense games, you should definitely treat yourself to this content-rich world.