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Video Game Review: The Witcher 3

Not long ago the second and final DLC for the Witcher 3 was released. In honor of that, I’m doing a long-overdue review of the whole game, including both DLCs. First of all, the DLCs each play as separate campaigns of significant length. The first could be completed just before the end of the main Wild Hunt campaign (but is best done post-game), the second should definitely be post-game. With that out of the way …

I have not played Witcher 1 or 2 (mainly because they were not on Playstation), and I wish I had. Because this game is EPIC. Not only does the main campaign feature an amazing story, each of the two side campaigns have their own unique stories which are maybe even more compelling than the main plot.

The Witcher takes place in a pseudo-European, dark fantasy world based on books by the same name. A long time ago this world overlapped with others in an event called the Conjunction of Spheres. A bunch of creatures from those other worlds became trapped in our world. Some of these are elves and such, but most are vampires. To fight these, people created witchers–mutant monster hunters with superhuman abilities. Only later, they decided witchers were kind of like monsters too, and they hated them. Until they need one.

The world is deliciously dark–which I love–and draws a lot of inspiration from Slavic mythology. It’s not all Slavic myth, though. You have other fantasy/myth staples here and there, like djinn and so forth.

It’s a massively open world reminiscent of Skyrim. I mean HUGE, with so many places to explore, quests to complete, and monsters to hunt you could basically invest a bazillion hours into the game and not do everything.

Gameplay took a little getting used to at first. Once I got the hang of it (hint, dodge monsters, parry humans), though, it ran fairly smoothly. I played it mostly as a swordsman, but you can customize Geralt to focus more on alchemy or signs (magic) and all styles of play are intended to be effective. The DLC introduces further options for customization and even a use for ability points once you have otherwise reached the cap.

I played on the medium difficulty, which only occasionally proved challenging. The combat system was rewarding and never grew tedious.

What I think I liked even more than that, though, was the plot. Witcher stars Geralt and occasionally his adopted daughter Ciri. It also gives a lot of time and development to numerous NPCs in ways that make your choices seem like they actually matter. In this way, the game is somewhat reminiscent of Dragon Age games, though I found the story more compelling in Witcher. Unlike in the former, I never got bored in dialog with NPCs, never felt compelled to skip ahead.

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