A short while ago I felt a yearning. My life had been ruled by an endless repeat of shooting aliens and grabbing blue hexagonal prisms as I replayed Destiny in order to properly assess its value after almost a year off in rehab. Now I can safely say it was a mistake. So burnt out I was, with the Cryptarch’s stupid giggles as I bought him another engram and he laughed at my dejected face when it turned out to be totally useless. So I switched it up. Now, instead of finding a useless engram which my robotic face will mourn over, I’ve been finding some useless swords for my scarred white beard face to frown at while Polish folk music continuously rattles on in the background.
Yes, my fine friends, it’s time to talk about The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt. I thought I’d never see the end of the war torn hills and valleys when I opened up this gem for the first time, riding around Middle-ear-i mean westeros-i mean Velen. I stabbed bears, griphons, wolves, weird baby monsters, demon trees, vampires and lots of dudes in leather jackets. It was refreshing to finally have a firm reason to do so. But, and yes there is a but, I began to see some cracks forming in this once blinding diamond, and the crack won’t stop growling like he’s replaced his vocal chords for lines of gravel. Now, before my non-existent audience goes and crucifies me, there are things wrong with this game, it’s not some beached whale you need to moisten with your tongues because it’ll die without enough praise. The many glitches I can stand, because half the time it’s pretty funny when your companions horse randomly disappears or Geralt’s head randomly turns into a block of wood. Or the famous “Stop floating Mr Dwarf I know you’re compensating but please”.
In terms of narrative, something I value more than Geralt does being promiscuous, the Witcher 3 is pretty damn solid. You follow good old Geralt of Rivia once again, a Witcher that is to say someone who hunts monster’s not witches. But sometimes he does hunt witches as his job hunting monsters. I originally did ask why they didn’t just call him a monster hunter, then I remembered actual Monster Hunter, and saw Capcom standing behind it giving it another whip for not selling enough. So back to Geralt, a master swordsman who can do cool simple magic and brew potions to make him even better at everything. Unfortunately, being so good at everything due to mutations has him shunned from society, despite the fact all that happens is getting spat at and a few nasty things said about you, which happens to basically everyone in the wrong side of Canberra. Besides, the only visible mutation is some cool cat eyes and his ultra-gravelly voice. None of this stops him from getting in with the ladies, who all want his nice hair and big muscles. Oh, and he also is immensely well versed in big world changing events, political intrigue, fighting inter dimensional skull dudes etc etc. Didn’t quite get the description? Ok I’ll simplify: he’s a Mary Sue, basically perfect in every way and not in any way human.
But really aside from his complete flawlessness, the game doesn’t really sabotage itself too much. I find it somewhat annoying that Geralt always gets involved in all these plot’s and schemes and whatnot, but it does make sense considering he’s a famous professional. The game does give solid motivation and depth for most of the characters, aside from some of the side chaps like growly bald man or blue clothed patriot dude. In honesty, there are more gameplay issues then story. The combat is somewhat overly layered, and your weapons have the durability of a soggy Pringle. Half the potions and oils you can use I never touched, because they didn’t really change the fact you could just dodge out of the way of the enemies heavily telegraphed attacks then mash light attack in response. Even so, there aren’t many issues that really destroy my enjoyment or investment, and there are plenty of scenes were the game shines even with nothing happening. There are two segments that really impress me to this day. One being the well-known audience with Tywin Lannister, which is an excellent example of showing over telling. The other being that section where you get drunk with your Witcher friends and have a fun night of cross dressing. Even with little player input, they entertain because the characters are multilayered and intriguing. Also, there is some razor sharp wit implemented into the game.
But, the Vivisection isn’t complete without ripping into flaws, even nitpicks. While I think the whole: “Witchers are despised” thing needs more work, one thing that really bugs me is his interactions with Ciri, the Chosen One or Child of Destiny or something. See, what stops Ciri from becoming this huge Mary Sue is that she has human flaws, even while having huge power. They aren’t massive flaws, but they fit with her character as a girl on the run. She relies on Geralt, isn’t in control and doesn’t always know what to do. We also see this arc she goes through, where she stops running and stands against the titular Wild Hunt. There’s a mechanic that really bugs me that influences the ending, where you have to make important choices that influence what Ciri does. The issue is, it’s unbelievably easy to pick the right ones. See, with quests like the Baron, who’s this alcoholic warlord you deal with early on, there is no “good” ending. Both the final results are absolute shit, and end with people being hurt and killed. The thing about it is, that’s the whole theme of the choice system. You have to choose between evils.
With the interactions between Ciri and Geralt, you do the good one or the bad one. There are some major consequences if you bugger it up, but it’s near impossible. Geralt is supposed to be a cold killer who strives to remain neutral in a world where everyone is picking sides, but there’s no conflict in him unless you role-play it. That’s how you fix it, you remove the dialogue tree’s that create Geralt as this moral saint, and have all of them as lesser evils. He needs to be driven to his own goals, as selfish as they may be. He can’t just do everything right and win every battle by himself. See, in the books which this game is based off, Geralt is a pessimistic bastard and really doesn’t do everything right. He’s a pretty bad parent, he gets way in over his head commonly and he doesn’t just get served at a bar without somebody trying to turn him into a kebab. So there, make him human, make him face problems and give him room to fail. Problemo solvo.
Also, fix the horse A.I. please. Cheers.