Today I’m introducing “Late to the Party”, a series of posts about games that I only just played although everyone already knows them or about games that I’ve purchased quite a while ago but never played – until now.
Note: This isn’t a review! I’m only giving my first impressions on the first few hours I played. I may explain stuff in a rather sloppy and informal way, I may rant about features I didn’t like, I may praise certain aspects that I enjoyed, but since it’s only about my first impressions of the game this isn’t a full review of the game!
Anyways, today’s post is about the first game of the Witcher series. Everybody knows about the Witcher-series! There are novels about it (or rather the games is based on the novels), there are three games and there’s also a Netflix adaptation but I myself have never played the Witcher myself nor have I watched any videos or read anything about it, until now. So, today I’m going to give you my thoughts about it after playing the first game for a few hours.
The Witcher tells you the story of Geralt from Rivia, a witcher who’s tasked with curing a princess that has been cursed and transformed into a monster. After being gravely wounded in that fight, five years pass and the Witcher returns! More or less. You basically lost your memories and are rescued by some other Witchers who then get attacked by bandits, a monster and a mage. Interesting. Before I continue with this post, I should mention (for those under you that are also late to the party) that a Witcher is some kind of genetically-enhanced warrior trained to slay monsters. I think Witchers are also able to use special potions and stuff to enhance their abilities but I didn’t really get to that point yet. At least something like that is hinted at in the skill tree and shown in the intro.
Anyways, after getting attacked you need to pick up your sword. You now will have to fight your way through some bandits. To do that you click on them, just like you’d do in Fable…. or so I thought, but by clicking the left mouse button more than once you’re not lining up attacks or something that can be cancelled by rolling or some mechanic like that – No! You’re basically cancelling the attacks you queued up right after queueing them up.
The combat is really clunky, in my opinion, as you need to attack a target, wait for the attack to be done, then click again right at the moment when the sword-cursor is in flames and then you queue up your second attack, making it more powerful. By doing so, you can fight using combos and finish off some enemies in a low amount of hits because of crits and stuff, however, the tutorial signs don’t tell you that immediately but only after you’ve gone ahead a few steps to the next parts.
After that hurdle, you’re encountering agile bandits that you need to fight in a different stance. Before that, I was wondering why Geralt was holding his sword so weirdly but now I understood that I need to hold it differently against strong, slow enemies (strong-stance – Y) in contrast to agile enemies (fast-stance – X) or groups of lower enemies (group stance – C).
It’s a weird concept, especially since changing weapons and changing stances sometimes doesn’t really work in the heat of the moment, meaning that you need to pause the game using the spacebar, then you change your weapon or stance and then you unpause the game. I really don’t like the combat so far and hope that it changes with time. Having no jump-button and pausing the game with space is annoying me quite a lot. You can’t run up a hill and you can’t jump. It’s weird. I don’t like that.
Then some NPC dies but since I only just got to know him, I couldn’t really care less about that character, so I not only sleep with Tiss by accident acquiring a “romance card” but also skipped the funeral. I didn’t know that romance was even possible in this series but I just clicked on a dialogue option and whoops! Suddenly we had sex. I then acquire that aforementioned romance card, a trophy of some sort that you can collect in the game. I have mixed feelings about this feature. While I do like romance in video games, I don’t like the fact that you get to brag about it with a trophy or rather: I don’t like the fact that women in this game can be conquered as trophies but since I like collectables and since I’m into shipping people in games, I like, I’ll go with the flow and still collect these romance cards.
“Then some NPC died, […] suddenly we had sex. […] And then I skipped the funeral.”me. Don’t quote me on that.
After that, the actual story begins with Chapter 1 where the outskirts of Vizima are plagued by hellhounds. You receive some quests and while the quest system isn’t bad, it’s not really good, either. I couldn’t really spot the difference between the side and main quests. This may lead to me pressing forward and missing out on gold, experience, items or more romance cards (still not sure about those) which would suck, in my opinion. Sometimes there’re quests that can’t be done after you proceed with the main quests, so I wasn’t sure about what quests to do and which not. When you hear rumours, you get a quest. When you check the board, you get a quest. When you talk to NPCs, you get a quest.
There’s a quest for everything. Slaying monsters, collecting herbs, escorting NPCs. Those NPCs also tend to be very slow and even die although you already are fighting the monsters attacking them. Sometimes NPCs die, so you can’t get their quest leading to me reloading the save again. It’s just a hassle. I guess you could pay attention to the story and then find out which quests are important and which aren’t. It’s not that the story doesn’t interest me because, psyche, it does! It’s just that you sometimes click by accident and suddenly miss out on a dialogue or a cutscene. The game is an asshole sometimes when that happens.
Onwards to other things I noticed: The skill-system is kinda good. You get to chose between certain aspects of the game and can skill whatever you want..but then again there’re bronze, silver and gold points that you can put into different skills that need those certain points. I feel like it’d be better if there were just one type of points to put into skills so that you could choose what to get. Better skills would cost more points to get.
As for the presentation, it’s a good game. It captures the dark-medieval fantasy quite well, presents you with a decent amount of enemies in the beginning and there’s a small little monkey every now and then following you around. Quite adorable. The music’s alright but nothing too spectacular and it changes depending on weather, time, location-safety, buildings and other factors which I liked quite a lot. In the tavern, it’s rather lively, outside people hate you for some reason. There’re also different races among the NPCs like elves, dwarfs and other kinds of not-humans. Apparently, there’re also other factions that you can join to achieve one of three endings, I’ve heard. You either join the Order of the Flaming Rose or you join the Scoia’tael. They basically fight each other. The other option you have is staying neutral and not joining either.
As for the gameplay, I liked most of the game. I enjoyed roaming around an unknown world, getting to know new NPCs and crafting potions using alchemy and that kind of stuff. Alchemy is a major part of the game, so you need to collect ingredients and herbs on your journey and brew them into potions that aid you in battle or help other people in the game. I liked that feature a lot, although I’m not sure if it makes up for the fact that the combat system really sucks.
So far, I’d say that the game has good sides to it and some bad points, of course. I had quite a lot of fun actually and will play more eventually. It’s only the first game, so I definitely will take a look at the second game since combat apparently has improved in that one.
I can see myself becoming a fan of the series if the combat becomes less clunky. Right now I’m only in it for the alchemy, the dark-fantasy-RPG-world and some characters there..
This post is part of a contest/challenge called Blaugust! The goal is to post as much as possible and participants are awarded different prizes depending on the goal they achieved. My aim is to post on all 31 days of August and if you’d like to know more about this “event”, you should check this post out.