Thursday, January 14, 2010

The Witcher

This time I'll talk about a slightly older game - The Witcher by Red Studios, released 2007. The game is about Geralt who suffers from the standard "how to make the player not know everything about the game from the start"-amnesia. So Geralt remembers nothing about himself but soon finds out he is a Witcher, a person who at some point in their life turns into a mutated monster-hunter by eating too much poisonous, mutating plants. It is presented in a much more intriguing way in the game of course, and it is an interesting idea. This is also basically what the game is about, chasing monsters while eating alot of strange herbs that increase your combat power in different ways, all baked into an interesting story about... well that is for you to find out.

The game runs on BioWares Aurora engine, which also has been used for games like KOTOR 2, NWN 2 and Icewind Dale. The graphics do what they should with the game, it looks good enough, considering also that it is already three years old.

The combat system could be said to be standard rpg-ish with its own twist. Usually rpgs either are turn based or combo-click based. Witcher is combo-click based, where timed amounts of click with the mouse will make Geralt do different combo-sequences. The twist comes about choosing the right weapon and combat stance when fighting mobs. Geralt has two types of weapons - steel and silver, and three different combat stances - group, strong and fast. To each fight there is a combination of weapon and combat stance that works best, and it is choosing this that makes the challenge. It's a sort of rock-paper-scissors system. Using potions and the like during combat triggers an emote, which means Geralt can't swing his sword and use another item at the same time. Often it is wise to pump up on buffs and hp before you start a fight, especially so when fighting bosses. Geralt also has some spells he can use, but they're usually not worth the effort. This means that, from a rpg:ers point of view, the combat system could become a little dull. Although there are some variables to choose from, they're simply not interesting enough to hold the whole way through.

Another not so motivating factor, again from an rpg:ers view, is the fact that you basically start out with the best gear available. Geralt will find countless items that he can use, but nearly all of them will be less good than what he already has. For you gear-crunchers out there, beware. This is not a game about fiddling with your gear, like Diablo.

Like I said however, the story, without giving away too much, is quite interesting and well-written. The game is composed of 5 acts which each take about 5-10 hours to play through, so there is much to do. There is a lore book where you can learn more about monsters and characters you meet along the way. In some cases this could actually become quite useful, since you can check what weaknesses monsters have that you can use to your advantage when fighting them.

Although the game mechanics are somewhat simple and therefore repetative, alot of time and effort has been put into the story, which will keep things interesting enough to make you want to play anyway. Overall an ok game, which will entertain you mostly with its storyline.

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