On the PC, single player RPGs
are becoming increasingly rare. Titles from larger companies seem
to be relegated largely to remakes or ports of console games. Some
smaller companies have stepped up to fill the gap, and while it
would be easy for those companies to make subpar games given their
small size and the lack of competition, there are some games, such
as The Witcher: Enhanced Edition, which prove that
great things can come from small companies.
The main character, Geralt, is
a Witcher. Witchers are mutated humans with the ability to dispatch
monsters. In return for their increased combat prowess, Witchers
are unable to have children. Geralt is part of a small group of
Witchers who find themselves besieged by a group of sorcerers. Everyone,
including Geralt, is forced to investigate and track down this group.
In doing so, Geralt comes face to face with his humanity, his friends
and his ideas of morality.
Enough cannot be said about
this story. Based off a Polish novel, it is full of detail and character.
The story and dialogue is so well written that, at times, it singlehandedly
pulls the player into the game. The world of The Witcher
is not a bright, green happy-go-lucky wonderland either. Filled
with greed, racism, and poverty, the setting portrayed here is as
close as any game has ever come in mixing real world problems with
fantasy creatures such as elves, druids and dwarves.
To add further depth to the
story elements, the decisions the player makes throughout the game
have profound effects on the story and relationships with other
characters. Simple conversation choices can change how other people,
or even entire races, feels about Geralt. To add further weight
to those decisions, numerous flashbacks liberally scattered throughout
the story explore Geralt’s reflections on events and choices
players made in the past. This is a refreshing contrast to other
RPGs where your decisions (especially in conversations) have little
or no impact on the story at all. Multiple playthroughs to discover
different plots and endings certainly add to the replay value. Since
decisions at the very beginning can have a domino effect on options
later in the game, a complete replay or two may be necessary to experience
all the differences.
talkin' ta me?
Of course, being a Witcher, Geralt
must solve many situations with weapons and magic. Attacking others
is as simple as choosing a weapon and clicking on the enemy. As
Geralt attacks, the mouse icon flashes indicating an opportunity
to get in an extra attack. By chaining together multiple attacks,
massive damage can be done while minimizing incoming damage. Various
weapons and magic attacks, each with strategic uses in different
situations, keep combat interesting and engaging. Furthermore, potions
can be made to provide numerous bonuses in tougher bouts. Things
can be pretty hectic in some of the larger battles, but players
can pause at any time to consider options and choose the next move.
Unfortunately, aiming and camera control can be a bit challenging
at times. Pausing allows the player to take their time for the most
part, but when one of these issues happens in the middle of a combo,
it can be frustrating and lead to the occasional death.
Experience points are earned
through fighting and completing missions. Upon leveling, Geralt
can meditate and learn new skills. Aside from buffing melee combat
and magic, gathering and creation skills may also be improved. Herbs
and other materials may be found all over the world and made into
potions, bombs and other items to aid during combat. And while potions
may improve combat abilities temporarily, they also increase toxicity,
so they may not be abused.
romantic moonlight stroll.
Visually, most things look good.
Up close, some character models, especially Geralt, look great.
Coupled with some great movement, Geralt oozes attitude. On the
other hand, there are so many different NPCs that the same character
graphics are recycled numerous times, potentially confusing some
players. Backgrounds, towns and surroundings are generally well
done and detailed; however, significant fog effects and limited
drawing distances show up often in several outdoor areas. Sound
is done very well, with exceptional voice work
The Witcher: Enhanced Edition
is a re-release of the original, bundled with substantial additions.
A physical map, bonus DVDs, soundtracks, hintbooks and a couple
of extra adventure modules are included. Furthermore, for owners
of the original game, many of these bonuses may be downloaded for
free from the main site. During the playthrough, several minor bugs
and game crashes were experienced. However, the inconveniences were
minor, and a quick scan of the forums indicates that these isssues
pop up on a minority of computer setups. Also, The Witcher
was infamous for its load times that made the game unplayable to
some. This issue has been addressed, as scene transitions load quickly.
Overall, The Witcher: Enhanced
Edition is an amazing game. The combat system, while quite
solid, may not grab everyone. The plot, characters and ability to
affect the story will. What The Witcher: Enhanced Edition
lacks in technical prowess and polish, it makes up for in heart.
Every RPGamer who has ever complained of superficial plot devices
and the lack of true decision making abilities in video game RPGs
should absolutely give this game a run through. Anyone who plays
this game will remember it for many years to come, and that is one
of the highest forms of praise RPGamer can bestow on a game.