The Witcher – More Impressions…

The Witcher – More Impressions after the break…

The Witcher – More Impressions…

I’ve been playing the game “The Witcher” (the first one, not the recently released sequel) for a few days now.

When I first wrote of the game, my observations was that it resembled a souped-up “Diablo” clone more so then a direct competitor to the “Elder Scrolls” and “Gothic” RPG series (sorry, Ultima, but you’re a little too old to give a direct comparison although, if I had to, I’d say that Ultima is far more of an RPG then “The Witcher”). Having now completed “Chapter 1” (there are supposedly five chapters, not including both the epilogue and prologue), I’d still hold onto my assessment and here are some specific examples as to why:

  • One-way Containers: In “The Witcher,” you can take items out of a container (a barrel, a dresser, a crate, etc.) but you can’t put items back into it. This makes no realistic sense – Why can’t I take a book out of a barrel, read it & then stick it right back into the barrel? This limitation really breaks the immersion of the game and forces you into taking inventory (or simply dropping it onto the floor) that you’d otherwise not keep. Proponents might reply, “But you can store spare items with the Innskeeper!” That is true but if the game has the ability for you to place objects into a “container” (in this case, the Innskeeper), then why not just extend that ability for all containers?
  • Superfluous mini-games: The “Elder Scrolls” RPG series made the decision (I’ll leave it up to readers to wonder if it is a mistake or not) to replace certain skills with mini-games. Lock-picking for instance, became a mini-game involving pushing individual tumblers from inside a lock up in order to pick a lock. Charming people involved a mini-game of using different charming techniques based on their facial expressions in order to raise their likeability of you. In “The Witcher,” though, the mini-games do not seem to be as integrated as with other games. The “dice poker” mini-game exists as a sole purpose to “game save” someone’s way to instant wealth.
  • Upgrading Your Stats: Upgrading your statistics involve spending “talents” (they may as well be called coins, because they are portrayed as round and there are bronze, silver and gold variants of them) on a skill tree. What you do with your upgrades has no bearing on how you received them – Someone who uses their steel “witcher’s sword” to earn their talents can use their talents to upgrade their silver “witcher’s sword” abilities. The skill tree method of upgrading is a Diablo game play mechanic.
  • Locked Doors: I’m never agreeable with the phenomenon of impenetrable doors. I understand the nature of needing doors that can never be opened but my personal rule is that you only put a door that you can never open very sparingly, if ever. In the real world, doors always lead to somewhere. When presented with a world where doors can never be opened, that loss of ability dilutes the immersion of being inside an actual world.

A lot of the game is presented as being “on rails” and certain sequences force you into long stretches when you can’t save the game. Chief amongst these times, so far, is when you walk out of a cave to confront an angry mob. From that moment, you have no ability of save even when you finally meet “The Beast.” Since The Beast is formidable, it would have been nice to have been able to save the game between the time of placating the mob and when you encounter The Beast.

I just don’t understand the concept of the “sex cards” ‘mini-game’ (It is often called a mini-game but it is more like mini-quests). I can’t even place these types of quests into the same category as “dice poker” because at least “dice poker” gives you money. Here, all you get is an illustrated graphic of a naked or nearly naked woman. Yes, you gain experience from completing the quest but it is, after all, a quest and the completion of any quest involves receiving experience points. There doesn’t seem to be any major consequences with obtaining these sex cards or, for that matter, not obtaining them.

Overall, I’m having a nice time with “The Witcher.” I’ll admit that it is a bit too “Diablo” for my tastes. I missed a few extra moments from Chapter 1 (Going back to the crypt to fight more ghouls, for instance) and the lessons learned is to talk to everyone and engage in all the activities because you never know what you’ll receive as a result. Money shouldn’t be hoarded and to buy (or obtain) as many books as possible so that you may read them.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have some Witcher contracts to fulfill…


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