A game review from the unique perspective of a total newbie gamer who has only just started to indulge a life long love of video games, who also happens to be an adult(ish) woman.
This game took me a bit, mostly because I played the DLCs as well, but it was hella fun, so I stuck with it. Also, this is my first ever Witcher game. Let’s do this thing!
WARNING: Spoilers. Duh.
It’s not that I have a thing for older men (see also: my God of War review), but I really loved how they built Geralt of Rivia. He’s strong, but his build is much more lean than I’m used to seeing on heroes of the video-gaming variety. It makes sense, of course. Geralt lives most of his life out of doors, fighting monsters for coin. It’s not like he has the opportunity to put on much weight. Looking at him, and without knowing anything of the other games or the source books, I imagine he was a reedy youth, one of those ‘too skinny to be thought much of’ types. Those who do know the source material, let me know.
Better than his build, however, is his ridiculous sense of humour, and absolute sass. Seriously. Geralt’s sarcasm was a highlight for me. Also, I think we might be the same person, because I often said his lines before he did. That was weird. Get out of my head, writers.
I very much appreciated how much control over Geralt’s character the game gave the player. The base sarcasm remains the same. Geralt is extremely punchable in his witty repartees. As the player, however, you get to decide whether he is a ruthless hunter, or a compassionate enforcer. I chose the latter, sparing as many monsters as the game allowed.
My one gripe is his voice. This isn’t to say that the voice actor got a lot wrong. His delivery was fine. I just have a real issue with the tired trope of having heroes all talk like they’ve been smoking a pack and drinking a fifth of scotch per day since they were five. You all know, the “I’m Batman” voice. I hate it. With a passion. Look, Geralt is older. He’s survived a life on the road, carrying two swords and a crossbow. He’s covered in scars (PS – I love that his skin is not flawless. I appreciate those scars). We know he’s tough. You don’t have to do the “I’m Batman” voice to drive home that point.
I hate that voice.
One of three of the main women in the cast, I adore Ciri. Heir to the Nilfgaardian Empire, Ciri would rather be anything but, and she acts accordingly. With a broken relationship to her father, Geralt takes that man’s place in Ciri’s heart. It’s plain to see throughout the game that the parent-child bond between Geralt and Ciri is strong. I’m a sucker for those kind of relationships, and so enjoyed the hell out of this one.
The nature of that relationship changes depending on how you play the game, and who Ciri turns out to be is dependent on the decisions you make in game as she asks your opinion on various things. I chose to let Ciri follow her heart most of the time, trusting that she would know what was best for her. At the end of the main game, she became a witcher, as she always wanted. In my head, she returns to take the throne when she’s older and wiser. For now, however, her being a witcher seems like the best choice for her, mostly because she made it for herself.
As a character, she’s basically over powered. I mean, she’s of the elder blood, so… of course she is. Her dodge was hella fun.
As for her appearance, she’s clearly Kate Beckinsale in a wig, no?
I really like her look… but… the heeled boots. Look, those boots are kick-arse. They’re fabulous. I would love a pair. But they are entirely impractical for literally anything but feeling like a badass on a night out. And Ciri is not the only guilty party in this regard. More on that later.
Yennifer, another impractically attired woman, is included here because she was my main romance during the game, for one reason only: she’s difficult, and difficult women deserve love, too, damn it!
I really like Yennifer, not because she’s the perfect woman, but because she’s not. She’s determined, to the point of being bull-headed. She talks over her peers, makes demands with the expectation they’ll be fulfilled, and doesn’t particularly care about the offence she causes. I didn’t agree with all of her actions in game, but I didn’t have to. Yennifer got shit done, and I appreciate that about her, even if how she did it was sometimes irksome.
There are other characters; the cast is huge. I don’t have time to go over them here, but I will have more to say on character design a little later.
The story of The Witcher III: Wild Hunt is fantastic. It’s the frantic rush to save Ciri from the evil intentions of the Wild Hunt, a group of elves (more or less), who have been hunting her for her elder blood and the powers it grants her.
Of course, as you’re well aware, parent-child stories always get me, and I enjoyed this one a lot. I did not have the benefit of playing the previous games, or of reading the source material (those books are on my list, though), so the connection between Ciri and Geralt had to be made evident in this game for it to work, and it was and did. I felt very protective of Ciri by the end, and stupidly proud of her courage. I tried to be a good parent, and let her make her own decisions, supporting her no matter what.
The ending I got had Ciri bounding off to be a witcher, as best suits her, I think. I think there are alternate endings (Ciri as empress or Ciri so very dead… though I’m not sure of that, as I haven’t really researched it all that much), but I think I got the best outcome. My girl will make a fine, compassionate witcher.
There were a tonne of side-missions and sub-plots which were interesting, but, honestly, the game might have done better without if we’re looking at it just from a story standpoint (the sense of urgency that might have yielded a stronger emotional pay-off was a little lacking), but did ensure the player stayed in the game longer.
The stories of the two DLCs I played, Hearts of Stone and Blood and Wine, were equally as compelling. In the first, you fight a demon (more or less), in an effort to save the soul of David Beckham look-alike Olgierd von Everec.
In the second, you’re off to Toussaint, where Geralt will eventually retire, at the request of the duchess there to hunt down a murderer. You get embroiled in a sordid family affair that is at the heart of the murders.
Frankly, the people who died deserved it, there being heavy implications that they raped and otherwise abused, a young child.
This particular DLC was a game in and of itself, and lasted quite a while, and centred on sister drama. I was thoroughly invested in this particular thread, not least of all because we met a vampire by the name of Regis, who was a great character and good friend of Geralt’s. That’s right. A friend. In fact, without him, the solution would never have been found.
Again, there are many endings one might have gained depending on the choices of the player, but I ended the game with the sisters reunited, sins forgiven. Everyone, save for Dettlaff lived, which is a shame. I was hoping he would live. He was a very sympathetic villain.
The end of the series is reached in this DLC, with Geralt retiring in Toussaint, a vineyard owner, with Yennifer at his side (you might also have Triss, if she was the main romance in the main story, or Ciri, if you’ve romanced neither woman. I almost regret romancing Yennifer, given this information, as I quite like the idea of Ciri and Geralt having a house together as a father-daughter duo).
Overall, all the stories here were great. They were certainly enough to keep me pushing through a stupidly long game, and that says quite a bit.
The game is both great and terrible in its treatment of women. Each woman’s personality (if not her build) was individual. Each woman was strong in their own ways. Ciri was brilliant, surviving as she did for as long as she did. She knows her way around a sword, and is courageous beyond words. Yennifer is difficult, clearly a leader, headstrong, demands respect and to hell with the feelings of those around her. Triss is sweet, and as determined as Yennifer, even if she’s less bull-headed about it. Her heart is kind, and she also shows courage when called upon. There is a woman on Skellige, whom you can guide to be the first queen of the islands (and you bet your arse I did), who has a good head on her shoulders, and is hardy and strong.
The love triangle thing between Geralt, Yen and Triss is a little… uh… tiresome. I do so hate love triangles as a trope in general. I know, I know. Geralt is the hero. Of course all the ladies want him. Or something.
Which brings me to the sex. You can, uh… screw… a fair number of fair lasses in game (which I found hilariously bad). I’m of two minds about this. First, ugh, Geralt is every woman’s type, I suppose, and of course women’s affections are things that can be gotten if you just play it right. Vomit. Yawn. But also, hell yes to sex positivity! I also quite like that Geralt’s attitudes towards women doesn’t change depending on whether he got to bone them or not. For what control of him I got, I made sure he was respectful. Alas, we never get to see if Geralt takes rejection as gracefully as these women do. It would have been nice to see him rejected at least a couple of times.
Also, those scenes were both far more graphic than I expected, and twice as hilariously goofy.
Finally, while the men in game got to be every shape and size (lean and mean, like Geralt, tubby and wobbly like Dijkstra, or broad and strong with a belly, like the Bloody Baron), women in game have a single setting, unless they are monsters. And the shoes. Oh, those bloody shoes!
Look, I get heels are supposedly sexy (I don’t get it, but whatever). However, there’s a time and a place, people. Running about the sewers after a creature that has killed soldiers down there is neither! Running around the rocky wilds of Skellige, or literally anywhere in the game, is also neither the time nor the place.
FFS, game designers. I know it’s fantasy, but this is just ridiculous. The worst of tropes. I hate it even more than I hate the “I’m Batman” voice. Ugh!
Like all the games I attempt, I played this one on the ‘normal’ difficulty setting.
It took me a little bit to get into the combat of this game, but when it finally clicked, it played well. It cannot rival Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice in terms of intuitive fighting, but it was fun all the same. The creatures were challenging enough, without being insurmountable. There was just enough frustration with the fights to keep me engaged, and to celebrate when I was victorious.
This is particularly true of the final fight with Dettlaff, who killed me many times in rapid succession the first time I faced him. I was frustrated to the point of quitting for the night, only to defeat him the first attempt the next time I played (I had read a strategy guide and also made some White Raffard potion, so that helped).
There were also a fair number of glitches and bugs in game that sucked balls. I, for example, could not start on building the Wolf School armour, because the chest that held the first plans was locked to me, even though there was the sword and apology note from the patch that supposedly fixed that particular bug. I tried a couple of times. I also couldn’t get the stuff required for the rune maker in Hearts of Stone, as they just did not spawn in the bandit’s cave. I tried multiple times. It made me sad.
That said, with only two major bugs in a game of this size, the game play was still a lot of fun. I enjoyed hunting the monsters, and letting them go as the opportunity arrived. It was challenging without being overly frustrating.
I would like to add, to anyone who watched me play live on Twitch, I can ride a horse better than that in real life. I promise.
This game is great. It has some really silly moments that made me laugh loudly, which weren’t supposed to, I’m sure, but overall, it was a lot of fun to play. I’m really glad to have this in my gaming library, and gladder to have played it all the way through. If you’re thinking of getting this game, I highly recommend the DLCs that are available. They were great, too.Score: 7 / 10