The Witcher 2 is a game based on a series of books from Polish author Andrej Sapkowski. I haven’t read anything written by him, but I assumed that since the game was based on a book, that it will be set in a complex world. And I was right. The Witcher 2 is set in a dark world, filled with racism, sex, drunks, traitors, scum and politics. Pretty much the real world but with elves, dwarves and magic. The game’s strong points are the setting, the storyline and the characters.
The World and its Inhabitants
At one point during the game you will be given a choice, and based on what you choose the game splits up into two different storylines, and you will see the same events unfolding but from different points of view. Needless to say there isn’t a moral choice system, because there isn’t any morality in the world. You get to make certain hard choices throughout the game, but you do not get points for being good or bad. You just get to live with the consequences. For example, there is a moment in the game where you spot a group of humans that is ready to tear an elf lady to pieces. They say that she was an informer for the elves and that she was responsible for the death of several soldiers. If you decide to help her, she will thank you and ask that you meet her at a pond in the forest. At this point you will probably be thinking: “Sweet I’m gonna have sex with her” given the game’s reputation. But instead you will get ambushed by elves. And there you have it, the game teaches you a lesson through gameplay, and the moral choice is more ambiguous and relevant this way.
The world and the setting of Witcher 2 put the player in a position where he has to reconsider what being a hero really means. Trusting people, helping the apparently innocent and playing the good guy is not the way to go. Sure you can try and play it that way and it will be interesting. But do not expect it to be fun or rewarding. The world of Witcher 2 is a world dominated by fear, there is the constant threat of total war and complete annihilation. The game mimics the real world very well, and you will see constant examples that power corrupts.
Geralt himself is what you make of him. But he does have some characteristics of his own. He is a witcher, an order of warriors that use alchemy and potions to enhance their mental and physical strength. He is an outsider to the world of politics, he is a monster hunter, but he was pulled into it when the king he was supposed to protect gets assassinated and he is blamed for it.
Gameplay and System Requirements
It is worth mentioning that the game is gorgeous. It is also worth mentioning that if you do not have a high-end system you will not be able to play it. This is somewhat of a disadvantage. I wish there was the possibility of sacrificing the looks for framerate, but even at the lowest settings the game will still run poorly on an older system.
This game is hard. There is no tutorial holding your hand and telling you what to do in the beginning, you have to figure it out for yourself. This is a good idea, especially in today’s gaming landscape where you get tips like “use the mouse to look around”. But the Witcher 2 takes it too far. It does not have the same formula that other RPGs have, it is more complex in terms of UI, combat system and spell system, so there really was a need for a quick tutorial on how to use its various features.
All in all, The Witcher 2 is an awesome game. Its flaws are overshadowed by its great storyline and its unique take on the fantasy setting. Did it deserve its Game of the Year awards? Yes.