I’m at the climactic scene in Chapter 2 of The Witcher 2 and I’ve paused it to write this.
This morning I picked up where I had left off, very intrigued, slightly disappointed, mid-May last year, with Witcher 2. The game originally wowed me with its style and amused me with its writing but, as many a forum post will echo, was a disappointment in many ways. There were bugs (when aren’t there?) and the combat was largely forgettable. A blizzard on the marina and a girlfriend who’s read the Witcher novels compelled me to patch Geralt of Rivia up (5 consecutive downloads no less) and continue my search for the Kingslayer… oh, and my sexy long lost lady or a sexy more recently lost lady that may turn out to suffice.
The fighting is still not perfect but it’s much improved and my progression has led to fights becoming a more engaging spectacle. However the real victor here is the plot. Everything I’ve been doing has had a genuine sense of meaning – every decision has left me wondering what the alternative would have brought about. Having replayed certain areas path choosing is not always as much of a consequence as feared but CD Project never leave you feeling easy about that contextual button click. It just feels like you’re shaping the outcome of things. Most games are so flat and transparent (I’m looking at you Skyrim) that the illusion is rarely upheld but with Witcher it seems to be the reverse. The interwoven plots, the forking paths, the brilliant (and often Welsh) acting – they all have held me captive this weekend. And what’s more, for the first time in a long long time I’ve been trying to get more dialogue out of the characters.
There’s a definite charm to the writing which is carried through in the overall gameplay. Like the books (I’m told), Geralt and his cohorts are a sarcastic and rather randy bunch. It’s apt given the similarly timed telivising of Game of Thrones and I find it rather charming.
I’m at the top of a tower holding off a castle siege. To my left is a dwarf with a mohican and a passion for ‘ploughing’ his wife. There’s a bard that can’t rhyme on my right and beside me – a virgin Knight-ess who’s secret is she’s actually a dragon. Below comes a cry as two trolls charge into the fray – an event I never saw coming, I’d helped rekindle their love 10 quests ago. They’re met with a witty comment from our vertically challenged ‘man’ at arms: ‘Aye she’s an ugly beast but she’s got titties. Shoulda seen the boys faces when those crested over yon horizon’.
**CUT TO PRESENT DAY**
As usual it looks like I started writing something and then stopped some months ago. I’ve now finished The Witcher 2, watched any and every bit of media online relating to it – helped by the imminent XBOX release and even bought one of the books.
The later chapters have some brilliant story-telling devices, the highlight of ‘witch’ is stepping into the shoes of the dead soldiers doomed to fight their battle eternally and reliving their fight with them.
The Witcher 2 created a truly brilliant world for me to exist in and, having finished it, I’ve been left with something of a vacuum. I turned to Mass Effect 3 but for some reason the controller’s gathering dust. I miss you, Geralt of Rivia. I miss you and your ploughing ways. You offered me a detailed, meaningful, beautiful world to swing my swords in. And, you know, I’ve just not found another game quest that resulted in earning a chicken beak trophy.
The medallion again. Magic or danger.