Diecast #105: Zero Escape, Life is Strange, The Witcher 3

By Shamus
on May 27, 2015
Filed under:
Diecast

113 comments

Note that this podcast and the previous one were recorded back-to-back. No, this isn’t a permanent music change. I just wanted to do something different since this is a special episode.

Direct link to this episode.
Direct download (MP3)
Direct download (ogg Vorbis)
Podcast RSS feed.

Hosts: Shamus, Campster, Josh, Chris Franklin, Mumbles, and Mr. Errant Signal.

Show notes:
2:00 Zero Escape makes Zero Sense.

Here is the mystery website Mumbles was talking about. I have no idea what to make of that.

9:00 Life is Strange.

Spoiler free discussion of episode 3. (Mild ep 1 spoilers.)

14:00 Mumbles is playing Pillars of Eternity.

And enjoying it!

17:00 Josh is playing The Witcherator 3.

To show the depth and scope of the game, Josh spoils a few sidequests.

Despite the ribbing I gave Josh, I’m seriously thinking of getting this thing.

43:00 Chris talks about Destiny.

Specifically, the House of Wolves DLC.

56:00 MAILTIME!

Dear Diecast,

How many horror games with an happy ending can you think of?

Sincerly,

C0Mmander

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Footnotes:


A Hundred!13113 comments. Quick! Add another to see if this message changes!

From the Archives:

  1. Andrew says:

    Nothing to do with the Diecast but I’m really liking the ‘from the Archives’ bit that I’m pretty sure is new.

  2. DeadlyDark says:

    I am curious. I played Witcher games with polish voices (because it’s original, and I prefer to listening home language of the developers, it’s like german to Gothic 2) and with russian subtitles (languages are similar, unlike english and polish, so no reason to read on english). Does they changed English voice actor of the Geralt? Because I don’t see serious shift in personality of Geralt, and I am wondering, why do you see it – different actor of changes in writing (possibly, translation)?

    • Dovius says:

      Haven’t listened to the ‘cast yet, so I might be missing context, but Geralt’s had the same VA for all 3 Witcher games (Doug Cockle).

      • DeadlyDark says:

        Ah, thank you. May be writing or translation then. Or actor now have different direction.

        • Humanoid says:

          I remember noticing Geralt’s line delivery had improved significantly in the second game – maybe part of is is better writing or better direction, but I’d say it’s mostly in just the voice actor doing better.

    • Galad says:

      How do you set the voiceover to Polish? I tried setting the game to French, but that set the menus and subtitles to French and I don’t understand it enough for that

      • DeadlyDark says:

        Are you using Galaxy? If yes, go for “More” then “Configure”, change to needed language. Then Galaxy downloads voice language pack (I think, about 3 Gb) and lastly in game options change preferred text and voice languages (isn’t trivial with polish, but similarities helps, something like “Jeziky” option).

  3. DeadlyDark says:

    It was a long while, but doesn’t Scratches has a good ending? AFAIR, main hero escapes alive and well.

  4. Hal says:

    “An happy ending” or “A happy ending?”

    I pronounce the latter; the former makes my skin crawl for some reason.

    • Thomas says:

      I’m pretty sure “A happy ending” is correct. I think you decide the ‘a/an’ bit based off the word immediately following even when it’s an adjective.

      So
      A Hat
      An Elephant
      A Great Elephant
      An Enveloped Elephant
      An Exceedingly Enveloped Elephant

      • Phill says:

        Hal was (I suspect) alluding to the supposed rule that words starting with ‘h’ are treated as though they start with a vowel.

        This is sometimes true (“It’s an honour to be here”), but I think it is a mistake to apply it universally (“Is that building an hospital” is just wrong) – unless you make a(n) habit of not pronouncing h’s at the start of words accent (“Is that building an ‘ospital”).

        I’m not certain there really is such a rule, rather than just a misapplied recognition that some words starting with ‘h’ are sounded as though they start with a vowel, in which case ‘an’ is appropriate.

        And even if there really is such a hard and fast rule, language usage changes and that one is almost universally ignored nowadays.

        • Syal says:

          I’m pretty sure all English language rules are just misapplied recognition of something or other.

        • Thomas says:

          To be fair, I was taught (so probably incorrectly) that an exists because it’s harder to say a vowel straight after a. So it would make sense that words which sound like they start with a vowel still get an ‘an’.

          According to this random webpage that is indeed the rule
          http://www.englishpage.com/articles/a-vs-an.htm

          It’s not related to ‘h’s specifically, though I guess it just comes up more often with them. It’s “An F” not “A F”

          And apparently it applies the other way too, so if you are talking about a one-euro note then you use ‘a’ because one sounds like won. It’s “A European” not “an European”

        • The Rocketeer says:

          In so far as there is a rule, it is that you use “an” preceding words which: start with an ‘h;’ have three (or more?) syllables; have only tertiary stress on the first syllable; have primary stress on the second syllable; and have secondary stress on the third syllable.

          “Hospital” wouldn’t be one of those words, though “hospitality” might be. In fact, examples are so rare that, in America, it’s less recognized by its criteria and more for two specific, common words that accord with those criteria: historic and heroic. Many, many people know that you say “an historic” or “an heroic,” but it’s thought by most simply to be a quirk of those particular words, neverminding why.

          The reasoning, to the extent that grammar has reasoning, is that the tertiary stress on the first syllable renders the letter “h” so de-emphasized as to be silent or nearly so, necessitating “an” rather than “a,” as it would be with words with an altogether silent “h” like honor or honesty. But really, this is more a quirk of British dialects, affected as they are by French, and doesn’t really matter in American English; such is our mastery of the alphabet that we can pronounce proper “h” sounds even in such extreme cases.

          Furthermore, it seems bizarre to me that you would adapt grammar to a quirk of dialect that an equally-strict interpretation of pronunciation would not even recognize as valid; it requires a very peculiar level of rigor to seem sensible or necessary.

          So, like most obscure grammatical rules, it’s some bullshit invented in the 19th century an overzealous, misguided pedant developed mostly to suit their own opium-fed inner voices, and shamed everyone else into adopting out of pure pique. And, like all such rules, there is no point in remembering or abiding by it. If you had been waiting on some sort of assent to jettison the absurd practice from your idiolect, consider this your signal.

          • AileTheAlien says:

            I don’t think it was invented out of arbitrariness, but rather convenience: saying two consonant sounds or two vowel sounds back-to-back is slower than saying a consonant followed by a vowel, or vise versa. For most of the common combinations, anyways. The weird ones like W…well, they’re weird.

          • Trix2000 says:

            I know I’ve always said and heard “a historic” and “a heroic”, usually with the hard ‘h’ sound to start the word. Having the ‘h’ more silent just sounds weird to me.

            Really does sound like it comes down to dialect, though. I could maybe see why those would be pronounced otherwise, but it’s not what I’m used to at all.

            • Humanoid says:

              A notable one is the American pronunciation “an ‘erb”, which is of course written as “an herb”. Being used to pronouncing the ‘H’, this never fails to get me when seeing it in text.

              • Mike S. says:

                It was “erbe” in Middle English. The h was added back in writing (under the influence of Latin) in the 15th century, but didn’t appear in British speech till the 19th century, after we went our separate ways.

          • Volfram says:

            I thought the rule was “If the following word starts with a consonant sound, use “a.” If it starts with a vowel sound, use “an.”

            “Historic” and “heroic” (and “happy”) are pronounced differently in the US vs. Britain: in Britain, the H is silent.

  5. Phill says:

    I vaguely remember Parasite Eve 2 (back in 2000 or so on the original playstation – it was a resident-evil inspired survival horror) having a happy ending, but I wouldn’t absolutely swear to that.

    It might be the only horror game that I’ve actually played, now I think about it. Not really my genre.

    • ChristopherT says:

      I replayed Parasite Eve 2 a month or two ago, though I got the BAD ending. Which, really was just losing two support characters. Bad ending went; late in the game find little girl, bump into antagonists, fight final boss, and for the bad ending a support character uses the last of their strength trying to help Aya; Military storms in, secure the area, and Aya and the little girl are alright. Having not seen the good ending in quite some time (if ever), I do not recall it though. But, still the bad ending in Parasite Eve 2 is not so bad.

      Compared to Parasite Eve 1, where no matter what you do hundreds of people have died over the course of the game, including (if I’m not mistaken)Aya’s partner’s wife and son.

      Though I think when it comes down to horror games and the idea of happy endings, it really depends on what you want to define as happy. Resident Evil 2 ends coming out of a tunnel from a night of horror to be greeted by the rising sun, after watching Ada die (~less than an area previous), to seemingly be resurrected and fade into the shadows. Sure, some bad things happened along the way, but to characters we didn’t really know, Marvin, Ben, The mayor’s Daughter, Annette, William. So, we have a group of three characters get out of a zombified city rather well. However we then do have the entire city either dead, or as the walking dead. So, how happy does that come out to be? Guess it’s perspective.

      Dino Crisis is similar, a small team of four jumps out of a helicopter to parachute onto an island to search for a scientist. Before we even get to know him, Cooper dies in the opening scene, and we are introduced to our PC Regina (<3). As a game with multiple endings it really depends on which ending you get, but there is always the better endings where more characters survive then don't. Main loses are some scientists, and or guards, we never know, some had names, and a supporting character. Still, for finding a way onto an island inhabited by time displaced dinosaurs, getting away safely with the mission complete, and the starting team (minus Cooper), still rings of a job well done to me. Just not sure how happy we want to say it is.

      Is happy that "we" won, and go onto a brighter, happier day? Are our Player Characters and Avatars the only ones that matter? Resident Evil 3: Nemesis is a game, where even though Jill escapes the city, finds friendship along the way, and the both make it through, I would not call a happy ending, right after their escape is the broadcast, and "…Our hearts go out to those poor civilians of Raccoon City."

      And for that, how many horror stories at all, do we want to go with "happy" for the ending? The Faculty (movie) could be seen as happy, maybe? But only because so few actually died in the end, because the threat was the taking over of bodies, not the destruction there of. Pitch Black, has our story start with a space ship being bombarded with space rocks, and crashing into a planet, nearly killing everyone, but thanks to the efforts of the man at the controls, some people get to live, until they become food for the locals, getting off that planet at all can end up as a happy ending perhaps, but, again, what about those who could no make it?

      A lot of horror (that I can recall), I find usually goes with the idea of will the characters survive or perish? And if they survive, then at what cost? If for our sake we can blur the details to meaning an ending that at least makes us "feel good" well, then I can toss Resident Evil 2 back into the mix, along with Parasite Eve 2, and Dino Crisis, based on their "better" endings, because some games, notably the survival horror late 90s group, like there multiple endings, and it can really depend on what you as a player do, and that can change your perspective as your PC sits in the back of a helicopter, the sun rising out in the distance, behind them a mansion, where they thought it was safe, yet, they're the only ones left now, not Barry, not Wesker, just themselves. Just them, and the pilot, Brad, who when things took their first turn for the worst, he took their one means of escape and left them behind, to the horrors of the night…

      [although this is where I have to note I'm a Brad supporter. I believe that Brad didn't do anything wrong in flying away in the opening cutscene. Doubly so for the remake/remastered version, where Brad is flying from behind the rest of Alpha team, and towards the direction they were running at the time. My long held theory is that he also met the zombie dogs up close and personal, and did what he could to insure they still had a working helicopter. Though of course I can always understand this is a fan theory, and that Brad had to have earned the nickname "Chickenheart".]

  6. Da Mage says:

    Talking about games you play in order to relax, I actually don’t have any games I do that in. Since I spend most of my time on a computer anyway, I use sports (normally golf) in order to unwind.

    If I’m playing a game I tend to be way too focused on the mechanics or achieving a goal, whereas with something like golf, I can just walk along by myself and collect my thoughts. Maybe it comes back to the whole ‘a place for work and a place for rest’ concept, and I just cannot unwind in the same place where I am working.

    • DeadlyDark says:

      I launch Bejeweled 3 in Zen mode when I’m browser surfing or reading something. Just to make something with hands… I remember ten years or so playing DROD for the same reason which was funny, cause I reading Witcher novels at the time and both the game and novels about monster slayers.

      I think I’m just too inpatient to just read anymore.

    • Grimwear says:

      My game to turn off is actually Dark Souls. I’ve played it so many times that my routes are completely memorized, I know where to go first to get weapons that I can use to beat the game, then the rest is just muscle memory. It requires some focus of course for bosses but the vast majority is just spent running past every non boss in the game and is quite relaxing. Until bed of chaos of course since gimmick bosses are gimmicky and make me sad.

    • McNutcase says:

      My zen game is Audiosurf. Mono Pro, pick a track for the mood I want to induce, and I generally manage to just about max it. Everything just adds up to both turn off my higher brain functions and dump a load of neurotransmitters. Because my brain has weird sensory crosstalk, the effect is pronounced enough to cause an actual high if I pick the right music, or have a genuine painkilling effect. It’s the same effect that renders me unable to play Super Hexagon (no kidding, I am literally high within 20 seconds of starting a game) but more controllable.

    • Blake says:

      Freecell is my game.
      I’m that guy.

  7. IFS says:

    The prison keys thing is easily the worst part of the new expansion (well that and how it handles the new etheric light resource are the two main problems imo) because the only ways to get one are to either run the Prison of Elders for minimal rewards and hope one drops, or to grind Etheric chests on patrol for hours. Grinding on patrol gets you more chests more quickly (because of a bug you can exploit where you leave the zone and run back and can then loot the chest a second time) but also fills up your inventory with ammo synthesis (which also drops from the chests) that cannot be deleted, possibly completing blocking up your inventory and vault so that you can’t hold any more consumables. The only way to get rid of synthesis is to use it at a rate of 1 every 10 minutes, and because the drop rate on keys seems to be ridiculously low you can easily fill your inventory up while grinding for one key. Its basically the loot cave all over again (the best grinding spot is even in the same place as the loot cave) only worse. Supposedly you can also get the keys through handing in bounties to Petra, but I’ve yet to have that happen to me and she only offers six bounties once a week.

    The other issue I have with House of Wolves is Etheric light, which is a really cool idea as it lets you make old gear just as good as any new stuff, but in order to get it you have to run Prison of Elders on levels past what you can reach without EL (which my experience with that so far is that its tediously hard, some other people seem to enjoy it though), get lucky on a Nightfall strike (which you can only get one reward from a week) or do well in Trials of Osiris (a pvp thing once each weekend, where power matters so having EL to be more powerful gives you better odds). It just feels unpleasant to me that almost all the ways of getting it are reliant both on luck, and to some extent on already having it.

    Other than that though the new content is pretty fun, Prison of Elders is enjoyable, some of Petra’s bounties actually feel like hunting a target as they can be tucked away in corners of areas normally reserved for missions, and the Trials while I only have one failed attempt at under my belt so far seem like fun endgame content. Plus the crucible now has decent drop rates for loot which is a huge improvement, there are new modifiers which make the weekly heroic and nightfall strikes more varied, and while annoying to acquire etheric light does make what gear people are using more varied and keeps old equipment competitive by letting you ascend it. Plus the new weapon reforging feature (well not new exactly, but before you could only reforge Iron Banner weapons) provides interesting options for your guns (and finally a worthwhile thing to spend motes of light on). It does feel like the sort of expansion destiny needed, though I still hope the next one gives us another raid.

    • Chris says:

      The problem for me is that there’s no way to progress as a single PVE player. At least, no reliable way.

      I got to 32 because I did three consecutive Iron Banner events and got all four end-game pieces of armor. Now the main way to reach end level gear are:

      • Teams of 3 descending into the higher levels of the Prison of Elders
      • Teams of 3 competing (and winning!) in the Trials of Osiris

      Alternately I could hope to get lucky on a nightfall, but even that at least requires Josh to be around – I can’t one-man Nightfall missions. I can grind bounties and buy higher level armor stuff from the Vangard vendors, I guess, but that doesn’t sound great either – instead of doing the new content I get to re-do all the old bounties and grind for cash to just buy slightly better gear!

      It’s frustrating because I actually really like a lot of the new content but it requires having buddies with my schedule to play with instead of being able to just pop on whenever after work.

      • modus0 says:

        I’m in a similar situation. I was able to solo the first part of Crota’s End with all three classes, and the bridge with my hunter and titan, so I was able to get all the raid armor (aside from the helmet), and get to 32 with at least two characters before HoW.

        But with the new content, and not having had anyone to do Nightfall or 32+ PoE (because my friends were gaming with their other friends), I wasn’t able to do anything more than the Level 28 PoE last week.

        And those treasure keys drop way, way too rarely.

        • IFS says:

          Destiny’s fan made looking for group sites work pretty well to solve the issue you guys are running up against, its no real substitute for playing with friends of course but it will get you a team to make progress and complete various activities.

          • modus0 says:

            And that, IMHO, is one of the serious issues with Destiny: Having to go elsewhere to get a group together if none of your friends (if there are any) are playing the game and you want to do one of the activities without matchmaking.

            They really need to implement some means of doing that easily in game.

            Also, their reasoning of “but you might run into an AFC’er or an intentionally bad player” for not having matchmaking for everything is utter B.S.

            • IFS says:

              Oh yeah, I definitely agree. Even the owners of the two LFG sites have said that they wish Bungie would just implement such a thing in game. Any concerns about an AFK player or bad player are remedied with the fact that you can kick them out and find someone else (something that is already possible in the game, as is reporting other people for any number of reasons). The lack of matchmaking and the lack of private lobbies for multiplayer have been issues with Destiny since day 1 though, so at this point it seems unlikely to be fixed anytime soon.

            • Chris says:

              In fairness, I buy the whole “no matchmaking” thing for the raids. Everything else? Nah, you can more or less get by.

              But the raid mechanics (at least for something like Vault of Glass; never played Crota) really do require voice communication and players that know what they’re doing. Stuff like: Half your team randomly gets teleported to a universe where they have to pick up A Thing and take it to A Target. The player holding The Thing can’t shoot, but the players who can shoot slowly go blind. The player holding The Thing needs to clear the other player’s vision and guide them to The Target under a strict time limit. Meanwhile the three players left in the room with the boss need to activate a portal for the other three players to even have the opportunity to escape the other universe. Except there are two targets – they need to activate the one the team actually got teleported to, not the other one. Knowing this is trivial w/ voice comms, but virtually impossible in the heat of battle where all you can do is “point” or “wave.”

              Doing this with five randos w/o voice communication would be really really hard.

              But other stuff? Nightfalls and stuff? Yeah, no matchmaking there is silly. Most people can avoid gunfire and do damage. Even if they suck it’s easier than trying to solo some of that stuff.

              • Darren says:

                OK, this bugs me irrationally, but it isn’t another universe, it’s Venus at different points in time: the past (it looks kind of like Mars, but it’s supposed to be the hellish, unterraformed surface of Venus) and the future (where the plant life has spread to every corner of the planet). The vex can travel through time somehow, and you fight different versions of vex in the past, present (the main room where you fight the final boss of the raid), and the future.

                Why nobody picks up on this is beyond me.

  8. Ranneko says:

    Hearing Campster’s tale of Hat induced gambling was interesting, I have a friend who got very deep into the TF2 trading scene to the point where they also ended up trading various unusual hats to try to funnel get the right stuff. I don’t think she spent much money though, save for points where we asked her to buy things for us. I paid for another glowing green festive tree so I could give that to my partner one anniversary.

    The steam trading economy is fascinating and terrifying, especially when ultimately you do have people like Campster who end up induced to feed into it in a fairly unhealthy way.

    • JackTheStripper says:

      I understand why Destiny is a better game for Chris given that he seems to have that compulsion to “gamble” with TF2 items. But I don’t think it’s a legitimate concern for most people playing TF2.

      I mean, I’ve sunk more than 1300 hours into that game and the only key I ever bought with the intent to use for opening boxes was last year to get one of the taunts (the other time I bought keys was because the key community market crashed and they were around $1.70 – $1.80 US, so I bought about 6 of them and traded them for other games on the cheap).

      Anyway, the point is that Chris phrased as if the TF2 items market was a knock against TF2 being an overall good game, and I don’t agree with that.

  9. MadTinkerer says:

    Both endings of Eversion have at least one of the characters getting something they want. Not that there’s anything scary about the cutesy platformer Eversion. ;)

    The problem with good endings in horror / scary / tense games is that if there’s only one canon ending, there’s a greater than normal risk with spoilers. If the player knows that the ending is going to be happy, it doesn’t necessarily ruin the tension, but it can easily ruin any sense of dread for what might come next. This is why multiple endings are even more important in horror games than normal adventures.

  10. kdansky says:

    Witcher 1 had a few big technical issues, but was a solid RPG. It tried to be mature, but it sometimes ended up very childish, in a “teenager trying to be mature” kind of way. It also wastes way too much of your time to get going.

    Witcher 2 fixed all the technical problems, and was a very solid RPG, with writing that went from passable to great. It spent about three minutes of a sixty-hour game on sex scenes that were tamer than any HBO series. It has deep and interesting plots and characters, and a few downright crazy big options when it comes to choice. The second act is basically doubled, because you can choose to join one of two factions, which means the story goes a different way for the next ten hours or so.

    Witcher 3 surpasses Skyrim by an order of magnitude in scope (because it trades a bit of size for a ton of depth), and has the best writing of the three yet. It puts both Bethesda and Bioware to shame.

    Since the second part, it’s quite possibly the best AAA RPG series on the market, yet some people see a single naked polygon bottom and go raving stark mad. The worst thing about the sexism claims? Witcher 3 has the best-written strong female characters in all of gaming. They are actually characters, that are also female, and not “female sidekicks”. It’s quite sad that you (Shamus) are giving them a pass after a bad experience with the (flawed) first instalment (which I didn’t like much either, to be honest).

    • Shamus says:

      Josh actually streamed a couple of hours of the game to me last week, and I loved what I saw. Not just “eh, that’s not bad”, but really loved it. The combat no longer looks like a chore and it’s a gorgeous open world.

      I’m a bit torn now, because I have to wait until about June 8 or so before I can get Witcher. But Arkham knight comes out on the 23, and that would only give The Witcher about 2 weeks.

      So I dunno. Mulling it over.

      • Shamus says:

        For the record, the quest I saw was where he had to deal with a Moonwraith, and there was a little codex where you could read about how they worked and how to fight them. Kind of sold me on the notion that Geralt was a monster expert. Also, Geralt tells terrible shitty puns now, which is kind of endearing. It’s even funnier when delivered with his super-serious gravel voice.

        • 4th DImension says:

          Researching your oponent was allways part of Witching routine, especially in the second game. It’s basically:
          – Read the quest/contract
          – Schoolarship: Search the local shops for texts on the beasts if you don’t allready have them
          – Alchemy: Prepare the poissons and potions, according to what the beasts are weak against.
          – Seek out your prey and fight them using magic, sword, poissons, alchemy and bombs.
          – Cash in your reward.

          Now you can charge in without finding out more about the monster, but it’s ussually unadvisable.

          • Jokerman says:

            “Now you can charge in without finding out more about the monster, but it’s ussually unadvisable.”

            This is less so in the 3rd game though, you can get through a lot of encounters just swinging your sword and killing them just before they kill you. There are points where this will still go really bad for you, but less than in 1 or 2.

        • JackTheStripper says:

          Oh, you like it when Geralt says a pun, but when poor old Rutskarn says a pun, you hiss and complain about it.

      • Humanoid says:

        Josh! Witcher 3 stream, do it!

      • Galad says:

        For 2 weeks you might pass the game if you play for 10-12 hours every day :)
        Maybe it’s only 80 hours if you ignore all side quests and only do main quests missions?

        I had it preordered and I’m so glad it turned out that great. I’m 70 hours in, level 19, and am probably halfway through the main story, and most side quests done up to this point. I was a big fan of the first game, but the second did not click with me on most levels.

        This game knows how to vary side quest length too. One of the side quests is about a peasant woman locked out of her hut who’s looking for .. her pan. You uncover it, and uncover interesting tidbits about what happened with it, which connect it to the overall story. Short, but sweet.

        I really liked Keira’s story, and I like that, even though she uses Geralt, at the end, things don’t have to end with bloodshed. Priscilla doesn’t have much of an arc, but she’s something of a good fortune talisman in the game. One of the quests broke a piece of my heart by hurting her much, but it wasn’t permanent damage, fortunately.

    • James says:

      My favorite character development is tied between Triss, who has really really changed in a lot of ways, shes older, a little bitter but still determined to better the lot of Mages everywhere despite all the Pogroms happening in the north against them.

      And Radovid, Radovid has gone from powerful zealot to OMG WTF crazy and even more powerful super zealot and its obvious from talking to him hes jumped the shark, and because hes a King you straight up have to respect or at least not disrespect him.

      Ciri omg Ciri, just Cirillia Fiona Ellen Rhiannon, i cant hold all the things i love about Ciri.

    • Benjamin Hilton says:

      The moral ambiguity has always been in the series, and is the main reason I always loved it.

      The humor has also been there since the beginning, although some what more muted. Still I laughed for minutes When someone gave Geralt bad news and his response is “Abso-fucking-lutely beautiful.”

      • Benjamin Hilton says:

        In the first game There are two main sides: a rebel force of non humans fighting for their rights, and a group of human knights who oppose them. It should be an easy choice of who to side with. Except the main representative you meet from the rebels is clearly just as racist as his enemy and wants to kill all the humans, and the main knight you deal with is genuinely a good person who just wants to help people, and many times risks his life for others.

        It’s basically the story skyrim utterly failed to deliver on with the civil war.

        Best part: your never pigeonholed into one side or another. you can help the rebels at one moment and the knights the next. there is never a moment(until the very end) when you can’t jump teams. Hell even then you can just decide to choose neither.

      • DeadlyDark says:

        Yeah, first game wasn’t bad (especially for a first game) and there are so many good subplots (werewolf story, detective plot of the second chapter that have different outcomes, love story in fourth chapter, non-human rebellion, etc), though if I have to name one weak point I say, that too many quotes from the novels. Direct quotes in dialogs, some situations etc. I think it was limiting, but overall expectable from amateur developer at the time. Thankfully second game was able to breath freely and more strong in that regard. And yeah, I sucker for politics in games, which second game provides plenty.

        I’m kinda sad that some people didn’t play first game. I wonder how much of it comes from different mentalities (Poland developer and NA audience)? Because russians, in general, in favor of the game (second game has more mixed opinions), ’cause slavic roots and almost everything I read in western side of internet (not sure if I use right language right now) painted game as some horribleness. Though, I can’t deny probability of english translation being guilty in that regard (I heard it was pretty horrible). To be honest, I’m just curious how different counties sees the game because it’s from (relatively) exotic origin and have some different cultural background. It’s just interesting to see how different people sees different things (that’s why I read reviews with scores that opposite of mines, curiosity).

        • Benjamin Hilton says:

          I’m also sure a lot of people didn’t play it because, like Shamus, they were skeezed out by the whole collecting sex cards thing (which is fair).

          As for the quotes, I think that depends too. A friend of mine spent the first half of his life in Poland and knew the Witcher stories since childhood, and he loved all the homages to the books.

          • Humanoid says:

            A lot of the other dislike can be summed up by one word: swamp.

            • Henson says:

              OHMIGOD SWAMP.

              • Akri says:

                Every time I think about continuing my playthrough of the first Witcher I remember that stupid swamp that I still have quests in, and decide that I’d rather do anything else then go through another round of:

                “Do you want to go to the swamp?”
                “Yes I want to go to the swamp.”
                “It costs money to go to the swamp.”
                “I have money to go to the swamp.”
                “Ok I can take you to the swamp.”
                “Good, take me to the swamp.”
                “When would you like to go to the swamp?”

                NOW. I WOULD LIKE TO GO NOW YOU STUPID ANNOYING WASTE OF POLYGONS.

          • DeadlyDark says:

            Well, I think how are you feel about quotes and homages is personal preferences, so I can see someone liking it. I just felt that it was a bit too much.

            As for sex cards… I never saw myself it as a problem, just a little tasteless from mine POV, but because I am “live and let live” kind of guy, and if developers wanted to include this activity, more power to them. From what I read about them, I liked the most that analysis ( https://fallingawkwardly.wordpress.com/2014/09/19/binders-full-of-women-collecting-all-the-ladycards-in-the-witcher-part-9/ ) While I disagree with some points (I think it’s reading too much into things) I like balanced look at things.

          • Thomas says:

            The writing in general (except for the main plot which is good) is pretty awful in the Witcher 1. It’s very childish but it’s trying to be really mature, so you get random peasants just yelling “I beat my wife!” as the game trying to have a “mature” setting. It’s beyond stupid.

            In Witcher 2 you can sometimes hear it still sometimes but it’s much rarer. Most of the writing is more like the writing for the main plot in 1. It sounds like the Witcher 3 finally completes the arc

            • Benjamin Hilton says:

              I don’t know, I still liked the writing in the quests themselves. Like at one point you discover that this nice old hermit in the woods is a cannibal, but he only kills and eats bandits. He is technically a murderer, but he is also a genuinely polite old guy living by himself away from society. The game lets you decide what to do without sermonizing and telling you “this was the good/bad choice.” Even Obsidian failed to handle cannibalism that well.

              EDIT: However I do understand what you mean about some of the incidental writing being bad/crude.

          • MichaelGC says:

            So … is it ‘a homage’ or ‘an homage’?

        • Borislav says:

          I personally loved the first game. Back when it came out, I had a much greater tolerance for gameplay. Let’s face it – gameplay wasn’t one of the witchers strong points. But RPGs are my favourite genrge, so I’ve learned to ignore bad gameplay and graphics and focus on story, the world and so on.

          I am from Bulgaria (Eastern Europe) and here the game was also loved. The books actually came out after the game over here (there were probably older translations, but they were obscure). So everyone played the game first, then read the books. And our national tales and legends are not that close to the polish it seems, but there are common themes from time to time.

  11. Henson says:

    I haven’t listened to the Diecast yet, so pardon me if I repeat Josh. Or contradict him.

    From what I’ve played of Witcher 3 so far (still in the first area, White Orchard), the game is noticeable in how much more it shows people’s humanity. I mean, it’s not like the previous games didn’t show characters’ humanity as well, but it was always more focused on their inhumanity: a corrupt official; a sellsword who does injustice for money; a dwarf who kills for a position of status. I’m sure this game will focus on plenty of inhumanity the further I go, but in White Orchard, there are so many places where I really have empathy for these characters, these farmhands caught up in the sweeping changes of war, of loss of national identity, of shame. It’s still a very brutal, ugly world, but there’s also a lot of character to it as well, a personal, human touch. For a Witcher game, it feels fresh (so far), and I’m saying that as a big fan of the previous games.

    A lot of this is probably due to the writing, of course, but I notice that the facial animations are really, really improved from W2. Not so much canned animation, motions can have subtlety to them. It sells the mood quite well.

    • Vermander says:

      That’s interesting, because my biggest problem with the second game was how vile and unpleasant most of the characters seemed. I liked the branching story mechanic, but it seemed like most of the people I interacted with spent all of their time getting drunk, or threatening to rape, torture or murder other people. I didn’t feel any attachment to my companions in the game. None of them were people I’d like to be friends with in real life.

    • James says:

      Wait to you go to Novigrad, the game is really good as showing you how horrible people can be. in Witcher 1 there was the Order of the Flaming Rose, they were not found of Witchers non humans and magic, but they atleast tolerate it, they want to replace Witchers with training and schooling but they respect Witchers.

      The Church of the Eternal Fire is their replacement after they were basically wiped out in Witcher 1, and holy shit while some you meet are tolerant once you get to Novigrad you meet witch hunters and they are amazingly horrible.

  12. purf says:

    Gah. All this Witcher talk! All these GTA V videos! And all the Mad Max!!
    And all my shitty computers(2) and no babysitter.

  13. MichaelGC says:

    There is a ‘default save’ option in Witcher 3. The three options are to import; to simulate a save; or to not simulate. Campster must have chosen to simulate. Or possibly Mr. Franklin. Unless it was Errant – hard to tell those three apart with my naff headphones.

  14. Christopher says:

    “Pet” Revenge?

    I wish Campster’s mic had failed again during the hat confessions. Would’ve been the perfect, anonymous voice for that segment.

  15. Bloodsquirrel says:

    Is the Witcher 3’s combat significantly less ass than the Witcher 2’s?

    If so, I might try it out eventually. I still haven’t gotten the bad taste from the second game out of my mouth, though.

    • djw says:

      I’m liking the combat better in this one, at least. Also, no Kayren QTE (or anything like it) in this one, so far.

      There is less rolling, although it is replaced to some extent with jumping around, this at least looks less silly.

      • Humanoid says:

        Yeah, the chief change is that in addition to the roll, you now have the ‘dodge’, which is just a little hop in a specified direction. At the very least, it feels less silly performing it over and over. There’s also no longer a ‘vigor’ resource, which makes parrying less annoying to perform.

        That said, movement is still a bit wonky, the default stick sensitivity is probably a bit lower than it should be, and attacks still occasionally cause you to lunge in a direction you may not have wanted to. Maybe judicious use of the lock-on function may help with the latter issue, but I had issues with the lock dropping for no raisin, not sure if bug.

        And yeah, QTEs in general are gone.

    • Andy_Panthro says:

      I have yet to play the second witcher for any length of time, the controls/interface/combat just didn’t work well for me. I tried using keyboard and mouse, and an xbox 360 pad but neither felt right, everything just felt difficult and unintuitive. At least the first game had an entirely mouse-based interface which was easy enough to learn, despite other faults.

      So I am cautious about going for the third game, I feel like I should try and finish the second (especially since they’ve made various updates since I tried to play it).

      Does the plot of the third game require any knowledge of the second? The second didn’t seem to need any knowledge of the first…

      • Humanoid says:

        Standard answer of “it helps, but you’ll be fine” applies here. In the grand scheme of things it doesn’t matter, but you miss a lot of stuff hidden in the detail.

        The game does come with a little booklet (in print even with the boxed copies) to help newcomers, which covers what you need to know about the previous games and the gameworld in general.

    • Galad says:

      YES! I could barely tolerate the combat in W2, while W3’s combat is quite good and witcher-y (meaning that, for harder fights, and boss fights, you need to use oils/potions/bombs, and that is much easier than it was in W2, and I quite like that)

  16. The Rocketeer says:

    I think that question about horror with happy endings should come with a caveat: no examples with multiple endings, none of which are necessarily canon, and no examples that had their happy ending immediately reversed or overwritten by the next sequel.

    There are many horror franchises that have their cake and eating it, too, by leaving open one or more good endings for the player to work toward, then either having only the worst ending be canon, or simply undoing everything that made prior endings seem happy. For example, what Silent Hill 3 and 4 did to the open endings of 1 and 2, respectively, or what Fatal Frame III did to the endings of both prior installments.

    It goes without saying that this is a trope well-loved by horror movies, as well; many are the franchises in which the monster or ghost or whatever is defeated ONCE AND FOR ALL about seven movies in a row.

    To me, personally, it’s difficult to have a totally happy ending in horror without making it something other than horror. Horror is disempowerment. It tells us the things we hoped were wrong in all the ways we most relied on. In horror, good is not ultimately stronger than evil. If it is, then there isn’t an substantive difference between horror and any other story of good guys versus bad guys, gory imagery and orchestra stings notwithstanding.

    That’s no hard and fast rule, of course. It’s just something I keep an eye out for.

    • Vermander says:

      I understand that a happy ending can eliminate the impact of horror, but would you say there’s a clear difference between horror and tragedy when it comes to endings? Is there a way to let us know we should feel frightened by what just happened and not just really sad?

      I know a lot of people complain when the “victims” in horror movies are all unlikeable jerks, but I’ve always found terrible things happening to empathetic characters depressing rather than viscerally thrilling.

      • Phill says:

        which is why I gave up on Game of Thrones after the end of the first series, and have never had cause to regret not watching the rest of it. I’d like rather less miserable realism in my escapist fantasy personally.

        • Andy_Panthro says:

          Oddly enough that was my feeling for the final season (or so) of Breaking Bad, there was just so much misery that it made it difficult to finish. The earlier seasons had moments of lightness to offset the darker elements.

        • Vermander says:

          I get why you’d feel that way, but with that series you occasionally see good characters experience moments of triumph as well and evil ones get their comeuppance (although lately I’ll admit that both the show and the books have gotten off course for different reasons).

          I also like the way that the series shows how the actions of the most monstrous villains do have lasting consequences. Eventually someone comes along who’s not willing to put up with a depraved maniac on the throne.

        • Daemian Lucifer says:

          Ah,but that means you havent seen the westeros inquisition.And let me tell you,that one was quite unexpected!

    • JackTheStripper says:

      Silent Hill 3 has a happy ending in pretty much every sense of the word. The evil force is stopped, all the antagonists are dealt with, and the friendly characters survive (it even ends with a joke and a smile from the protagonist before the game fades to black and the credits roll).

      And even though there’s one other ending (besides the joke ending) that is not a happy one, you can easily argue that that bad ending is not the intended one because you are not able to get it during the first run through the game. You are only capable of getting it on a second playthrough and only if you meet the points requirement (killing a lot of enemies, receiving lots of damage, etc, to accumulate 4000 points). So the default good ending is also easier to get.

      So there you go. A classic game from one of the most revered survival/horror developers with a happy ending.

      Siren: Blood Curse also has a somewhat good ending in that, even though the nightmare is not over, the hero is seen effortlessly fighting against it to the point where he seems sure to succeed in vanquishing the evil in the nightmare world. Other characters in that story don’t fare as well though, but the main antagonist is dealt with, and there’s no typical “but the evil remains and will come back” kind of scene shown.

  17. Andy_Panthro says:

    Alone in the Dark has a happy ending, as far as I can recall. You defeat the evil and walk out alive, which is about as happy as such things get. Much happier than the sort of Lovecraftian horrors on which the game is loosely based!

  18. Ivan says:

    I don’t know what you guys are talking about, the true ending of “The Stanley Parable” is the closet ending. That was the best ending.

  19. Blovsk says:

    So, has Witcher 3 got rid of/toned back the super-uncomfortable juvenile sexual stuff? I’d be interested in it if so.

    • Humanoid says:

      I felt the second game had already – with the exception of a couple of minor sidequests – gotten it right in this regard, which I agree was problematic in the first game. I’m not far enough into the third game to be able to say whether it’s meaningfully different.

      • Jokerman says:

        The only times it verged into the juvenile area for me were all in Iorveth’s path, couple of side quests plus Philippa Eilhart’s Lesbomancy scene.

        • Humanoid says:

          Yep, we’re probably thinking the same things: the succubus sidequest and the elf you rescue in the prior act – incidentally the latter was “censored” in Australia to remove the sex reward, but GOG didn’t do geolocation back then.

    • Cinebeast says:

      From what I’ve heard, it has. (I haven’t played it myself yet.) Unfortunately, it’s only swapped out the overt, juvenile stuff for more subtle, insidious sexism, which is a total bummer. I’m not sure which I dislike more.

      Still going to buy it eventually, though. We’re still in a dearth of fantasy RPGs — I’ll take anything I can get.

      • Friend of Dragons says:

        I don’t think that’s correct–the game certainly portrays a world that is ugly and sexist, but I don’t think the game itself is sexist. It works to point out the misogyny of its world, but it certainly doesn’t advocate it.

        • Daemian Lucifer says:

          Was that present in the previous games?I mean other than with the main character an his sexcapades.If yes,then you are correct.If not,then this one is sexist.

          • WILL says:

            Lesbomancy was kinda dumb.

            Whoever is avoiding Witcher 3 because of perceived sexism or misoginy is missing out on a fantastic RPG that probably has the most well-written female cast in video games yet. If anything the male cast is lacking this time around.

    • Galad says:

      If you mean the sex cards, yes, since the second game. I don’t think Witcher 2 had any juvenile sexual stuff, as you say, but in W3, you have to work hard to get to the sex scenes, and the way you end up there is excellently written, quite like how it can happen in real life.

      • Daemian Lucifer says:

        The cards werent the only juvenile sex stuff in witcher.

      • Daemian Lucifer says:

        Seeing how it starts with a dick (biting) joke and a naked ass,I dont really see how its less juvenile.

        • 4th DImension says:

          Yes Witcher sure likes naked ladies, but it likes naked ladies the way The Game of Thrones likes it, to show how “MATURE” it is. If it’s not preventing loads of people to enjoy TGoT, than it shouldn’t prevent them from enjoying the Witcher. And like even in the second one the nakedness was limited to couple of scenes, and it’s not like the nakedness wasn’t justified.

        • sheer_falacy says:

          Starts with, and then doesn’t continue with. It gives a bad first impression as far as that goes and then is completely fine for quite a while (though apparently not the whole time according to other comments).

        • Galad says:

          If you’re only looking at it through the first impression, you’re making the same mistake Shamus is.

          • Daemian Lucifer says:

            Um,the first impression is what should drag you in,what should set the tone for the rest of the game.

            Also,its the first impression of a third game in the series,two of which I already dont like.So if the third game presents itself with the same attitude as the previous two,I dont see how its unfair to judge it to be similar in tone to them.

            • 4th DImension says:

              Did you play the second game past “first impressions”? Like past Act 1?

              • Daemian Lucifer says:

                No.I cant remember if I finished act I,but I know that I havent played after it.Its because of the same problem:I didnt like the first game,and this one didnt show me significant improvement so I dropped it.

                Same thing,only in reverse,for why I played through mass effect 2 twice:It didnt show me significant degradation in order for me to not enjoy it enough(that came in 3).

  20. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Looking forward to “Shamus attempts to play witcher 3,but fails for the third time” post.

  21. Voyd says:

    Totally off-topic, Shamus, but don’t forget the 80s gave us a show about the 60s – ‘The Wonder Years’.

    • MichaelGC says:

      Aaaand now I’m getting nostalgic for The Wonder Years. Oof, such a crush I had on Kevin’s elder sister.

      ♪ ♫ Whaaat would you dooooo
      If I saaaaang outta tuuuuune…

      Nostalception!

  22. Aspeon says:

    Regarding Life is Strange, I think Episode 3 actually reinforced Mumbles’ theory about Chloe having to die:

    I’d seen some speculation on other forums pre-Episode 3 about the ending being “messing with the timeline is wrong, that’s why all the freak weather phenomena are happening, now you have to set everything right starting with Chloe dying at the beginning of Episode 1.” With Max’s new ability to make a longer jump back to when a photograph was taken, we now know that she can undo the entire game by jumping into the photograph of the butterfly that she took in the bathroom. So my current guess about the ending is that she un-saves Chloe and then asks Warren out.

    The problem is that I don’t want them to do that, because it’s kind of the easy way out and makes all your decisions throughout the game meaningless. If the last decision is whether or not you hit the reset button, that might be interesting. I’ve also seen rendering a player choice meaningless done well, near the end of Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney: Justice for All. (And that’s its own spoiler block.) I guess we’ll have to see.

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