A lot of people are faulting me for being overly critical of The Witcher and not giving the game a chance, and they’re right. This series has been too divisive, and so I thought we’d wrap it up early, on a conciliatory note.
It turns out I never really took the steps needed to enjoy the game. I’ve been unfair. Luckily, people have provided me with lots of helpful tips on what I’ve been doing wrong. It turns out that to really enjoy the game you just need to:
- Read a 72-page manual.
- Read the series of books on which the game is based. (You need to learn Polish first, as only the first book is available in English.)
- Wait until the patch comes out in a few months that will fix up all the annoyances and problems with the game.
- Spend hundreds of dollars upgrading your computer. Only a fool plays a game with mid-range hardware, anyway.
- Play for several hours until you get to the good parts.
I admit, I just jumped right in and expected it to be fun. Seems kind of crazy in retrospect. I’m going to discontinue this series until I can complete the tasks in that list so that I can give the game a proper review.
People have also faulted me for not talking about the story, which is also true. So here is a summary of what the game was like before I had to quit:
Geralt wants to get into a major city, but it’s blocked by a plot-driven door, and so he has to go to the village to get permission to enter the city. The local reverend sends Geralt to talk to each of the three community leaders, who each need him to kill a number of monsters and bring back the giblets as proof. Once they are satisfied, the way is opened for Geralt to enter the city.
At the gates of the city he is arrested, and surrenders during the cutscene. However, he’ll be allowed to go free if he’s willing to defeat a fearsome monster.
These narrative innovations give you an idea of the caliber of interactive storytelling you’ll miss out on if you elect not to get the game.
Here is a site where you can learn Polish online. Here is a good place to upgrade your computer. And here is the first in the series of books. You’ll find it easier to shop for the other books once you’ve learned Polish, but this should get you started.
I give the game 4.5 out of a possible 5 awesomes. All the major game sites give it good marks, so clearly this is an excellent game.
There. Now we can all be friends again.
This goes back to my first post in this series. Some people faulted me for writing a whole post about Geralt, but I think that post encapsulated the entire problem. Geralt is step one to liking the game. If you’re repulsed by him the way I am, then it’s going to be a deal-breaker. Playing The Witcher if you don’t like Geralt is like playing GTA if you hate driving.
And this probably explains why this series has been so hostile. If you’re not immersed in a game, all the faults tend to stick out and grab your attention. If you’re having fun, you gloss over the little annoying details.
KOTOR is a great example. Lots of of minor little interface annoyances, but I wouldn’t bother mentioning them because I’d be too eager to talk about the brilliant characters and great story. If I hated Star Wars, then I’d probably remember the game as an overly linear RPG with a cumbersome interface and an overlong climax, and not a triumph of interactive storytelling.
I do give the game credit for the player choices that go beyond simple binary black-and-white options. This is exactly the sort of thing I was talking about in my Jade Empire series. I really enjoyed these, although they weren’t enough to keep me playing in the face of all my other problems with the game. I hope other games take a cue from The Witcher and give us choices more interesting than “rescue kitten from tree” and “eat kitten”.
I also give them credit for a game with no DRM. Thanks for that.
Even allegedly smart people can make life-changing blunders that seem very, very obvious in retrospect.
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