In an earlier entry in this series (this entry, to be precise), I placed the Witcher 3 into the mini-genre of “Dad Games,” and said furthermore that in my opinion, it’s the best of them. Now that we’re closing in on the end of the main quest, I should go into that more.
Most Dad Games feature a protective relationship between the father and the child. This was the case in the Last of Us and this year’s God of War. In the case of the Witcher 3, however, Ciri is pretty capable herself and isn’t presented to the audience as vulnerable in the same way. She’s also older. I don’t remember if her age is ever made explicit in the game, but I get the impression she’s twentyish years old, or at least in her late teens – basically, an age where parenting might be less about protecting and more about letting go.
CDPR handles this theme in a way that in some ways is very clever, but in others can lead to players feeling like they’ve been treated unfairly. Basically, at several points in the second half of the game there’ll be a scene – which seems innocuous at the time – in which Geralt is given the choice of either being protective or solicitous towards Ciri somehow, or backing off and letting her act on her own. (The choices don’t all cleave along that particular line, but
For example, in one instance, Ciri is frustrated after the battle at Kaer Morhen, and storms off, and Geralt has the choice of following her or giving her privacy to deal with her feelings on her own. In another, Ciri is to meet several members of the Lodge of Sorceresses. Geralt, knowing that the Lodge has their own agenda and can be manipulative, can either accompany Ciri or allow her to face it alone.
The wrinkle that isn’t revealed to the player until much later (the end of the game, really) is that each of these decisions affects how Ciri’s character develops, and how well-equipped she is to handle a certain challenge that she has to face alone. This, in turn, determines whether you get one of the “good” or “bad” endings.
Continue reading 〉〉 “The Witcher 3: Dad Games, Revisited”