The Witcher I : Geralt’s first contact

Contains spoilers?

Nope/ Slightly / Some of them / Get out of here!

The gaming world shares more characteristics with fashion than we could ever imagine: when something has been out for a time it gets “old” and no one needs it more. However, after a long it becomes popular again because is old-school (for games) or “vintage” (for clothes). This scenario not always happens, yet videogames have the concept of sequels to revive the fame of a saga. Despite of that, The Witcher 3 has not encouraged almost any player to play the previous titles but me. I’m certainly late to it, and besides of haven’t played that GOTY gem, won’t do until I finish the two previous. At this point I’m half-way through the second one, and defending that was an excellent idea to not rush into the third.

So, we meet Geralt. Working as a full time witcher (a monster slayer as you probably already know) his existence is holding a double morale: yet he’s the murderer of every vile creature, people who survive thanks to his work reject him. This doesn’t only happen in the game, though. We people tend to do the same more often than we could believe.

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Geralt has seen things

Getting back to the scarred face executioner, while walking through the cities we are constantly listening to the whispers of citizens, afraid of the ease Geralt has for ending lives. Despite of being a reputed killer, not everybody hates him: we get to meet Zoltan and Dandelion, the witcher’s two best friends around. They will be always there, but when it’s time to do quests, Geralt will be on his own. However, they’re not the only people who don’t hate him.

If The Witcher only goal was to kill creatures, it would be too much easy. CD Projekt Red introduced some social aspects that gave the game much more dynamic and possibilities: the choice making. It’s something we already know about because appears in our daily routine. The game wanted to make the personalities of the other characters to crash with Geralt’s, so we rarely have the choice of neutrality. Sooner or later, the events will cross path with us, so going a step ahead is a nice option. As in real life, one can’t stay on the line forever. Matter of time.

The game even confronts political situations in front of our eyes: what about the elves? They are discriminated because of the differences between different breeds, leading to racism inside a game released in… 2007. Even in a title developed by human beings, this race seems like the worst of all: mostly selfish, pride and putting others apart. That level of irony is just amazing, and leaves so many doors open for questions.

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Don’t blame me, I enjoyed these old looking towns!

In the very early game the decisions we make don’t seem to have a great impact, but when The Witcher keeps going we end finding out that picking one choice will “hurt” another character (not necessarily in a physical way) so we find ourselves between the sword and the wall. Staying neutral all the time is nearly impossible as just pointed out, because the developers already had that possibility in mind. Important to remember that moment when Geralt has the final word about whether sending Alvin to Triss Merigold or Shani. Hard one, right? It doesn’t matter which way we decide to walk: the other girl will get mad at us until the end of the game.

Having the mutant job defined, we’re ready to jump into the gameplay. Okay, okay. Stop here.

Needless to say the fighting mechanics suck, or not?

The first role title of CD Projekt Red had its best and worst and would be cruel to blame the slashing system. Let’s just say it was a nice idea not so well developed (statement that I tend to use way too much) because clicking one time and another ends becoming incredibly repetitive. Having to change from one sword to another is a cool concept to break up humans from monsters, physically speaking. On the other hand, the amount of enemies we have to face in order to progress in the history is too-damn-high.

While completing the main quests is fine, what used to attract me in this genre is the amount of side missions I’m free to do. Why caring about a missing child when you can brawl in the tavern or perform hunts in the forest?  And the most important in my personal opinion: playing dice. It tells us so much about the world we’re living in, one where despite the monsters crawling everywhere at night people still care about drinking together and betting Orens on dice poker. I spent an incredibly amount of time and fun (and money) in this modality, walking the path to become the best player around (achieved it!) and I have such good memories of this extra gameplay. Knowing that while playing anything else than my dice score was important felt amazing, all mixed with a chilling and festive soundtrack.

The problem with side quests was the fake sandbox The Witcher has. It constantly cuts our tail when we progress, making impossible to travel to most areas to complete quests or gather ingredients for alchemy. It made my game experience worse, but remembering myself the game has some years on its back vanishes a bit my regrets.

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Expect a messy inventory, though

Geralt is more than a simple killer: he’s a love machine (kind of Rasputin) and his fame is well deserved. The Witcher gives the option of seducing women along the adventure, collecting a car when slept with her. For the moment the game was released it wasn’t a problem, but nowadays this could literally bring CD Projekt Red straight to the bankrupt due to treating women as prizes such as Hearthstone cards.

Despite this fact, Geralt isn’t stone made: he has feelings. Along the adventure we see how he’s trying to be accepted as human behind a fragile mask of rudeness and I-don’t-give-a-damn face. He’s able to feel love, despite of how dull are the stories around him. We see how he cares about Alvin, or even about Triss Merigold or Shani. The books even emphasize how strong is the love Geralt feels for Yennefer, a repudiated selfish sorcerer. He’s capable of loving, no matter how much people around him tells the other way.

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Thanks to this meme I discovered too late there was a ring to make these enemies flee…

For the time it was released we’re speaking of a great game: it has so much to do I ended spending 40+ hours to finish it. The plot twist was rather fine, despite of the final combats were unfairly difficult and I couldn’t leave the area to farm. After literally a lot of tries (normal difficulty, no potions) I managed to beat the final boss, which leaded to a sequence that I enjoyed a lot: ending the life of a human with the sword deserved for monsters. That detail could be quite predictable but caught me offguard and made me enjoy the end of the first Geralt’s adventure. Was a tough path to walk, but the first step to reach The Witcher 3 having completed the previous titles is already made.

 

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