You know you are in trouble when you turn to find your trusty steed, carrying the head of yesterday's kill, hovering above a mound of dead enemies. He looks at you with a face, a pixelated mix of confusion, satisfaction and fear, which fails to understand how he got there. The world of the Witcher brought me often the same emotions as the hovering Roach. Confusion, in the face of a vast and immense narrative already at full speed. Satisfaction in this confusion and the games beauty and scale and fear that I wouldn't get it all done.
The Witcher series is new to me like it is to so many others, but since playing this instalment I have become a veritable addict; reading the books and watching clips from the first two games to try and gain a context for this adventure. Although it is confusing it is obvious to me that the developers have put a lot into the introduction of new players into this franchise. You may need to check walkthroughs and guides every once in a while, but the game is not as out of reach as so many feared. I have waited to review this, simply because this game is not something that can be understood by an hour, it is something that must be experienced in its totality to fully enjoy if not understand.
The game is beautiful, there is no doubting that. I have spent a lot of time simply exploring and treasure hunting, something I have never really cared for before. The landscapes are varied and diverse allowing the spread of war to be perfectly tracked by the marks on the land and the faces of its residents. This has however been said time and time again, it is a triumph of the integration of narrative and graphical design. The narrative, based on the books of Andrzej Sapkowski, is a huge web of intrigue, romance and horrors well worthy of its own film. The games romance elements have been discussed in detail by so many, however they fail to mention the consequences of you Carnal Knowledge of the ladies in the game, which I will leave you to explore. What is important, I think is that this game heavily rewards and chastises the player for stupid or greedy choices.
There is still the issue of the horse, the faithful Roach. He has been the bane of my experience of the Witcher. Reminiscent of the horses from the early Assassins Creed games it is obvious that he is challenged. His direction often suddenly changes leaving you bouncing off a small bush or heading into the rivers. As the main mode of transport in this game, I had hoped he would have been easier to control when the environment gets more complex. When you are on foot, as I have said, however, the game cannot be faulted and while I have yet to finish this game, I can't wait to see where it all goes.