Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Review: The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

You want a game with some longevity? From start to finish, this one took me 256 hours. And I missed a bunch of stuff too.

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is, unsurprisingly, the third of a trilogy of games. The first was released in 2007 for PC, while the second was released in 2011 for PC and Xbox 360. The games revolve around Geralt of Rivia, a Witcher. As a boy, he was taken and given multiple tests, trials, and training, which results in a being that is more or less a superhuman. It is then their job to hunt monsters and other tasks for which regular people are poorly suited. 

In Wild Hunt, you are tasked with tracking down one of Geralt's former students, who has reappeared after years in a far away place and is being hunted by the group called The Wild Hunt, spectral horsemen and knights from another dimension. You have to search the land and find your ward before they do. Along the way you encounter monsters, sorceresses, kings, and all kinds of regular people. 

Complicating things further, is that the country is currently embroiled in a war with its neighbor, so the land is doted with bandits, deserters, and refugees. Some you will help, some you will hurt, and some you will have to face in self-defense. 

In addition to two previous games, the world is further expanded in books, giving the world a background every bit as rich as you might find in Game of Thrones or The Elder Scrolls.

The game itself is absolutely beautiful. The level of detail is absolutely incredible. From the backgrounds, to the enemies, to the fact that your character's appearance changes with every different piece of armor. The monsters are designed realistically, with none of the ones I found and killed seeming unreasonable. 

The story is intricate and involved, with decisions you made half a game ago affecting the outcome of current events and leading up to different endings depending on who you helped and how you treated people. 

The controls are well-worked and honed as well. It seems confusing at first, because there are so many different things you can do depending on the situation, but within a few hours of playing, everything lines up and makes sense, and nothing causes problems. 

Now, nothing is ever perfect, and there are a few things I had issues with. All of them are fairly minor though. After a while I found some of the music in the wilderness boring and repetitious. I also came across a handful of bugs while playing, which included the camera getting stuck and an invincible enemy. 

Minor Spoilers below the image

There is also one thing I have a personal issue with. I don't personally get full enjoyment out of "moral choice" games. I enjoy games like InFamous, Bioshock, and Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, but games where you can be good or evil are a bit of a problem for me because I can't choose to be evil, even in video games, without feeling bad about it. (Odd that, really, considering I write Horror.)

In The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, you commonly have the chance to accept or reject bribes, keep personal treasure for yourself, help people, or leave them to die. Many times, the lines between what's right and what's wrong is not clear.

For example, at one point, a smith's shop gets burned down and you have to find the culprit. Upon discovering his identity, you find he was actually a friend of the smith that started the fire in a random drunken rage and you have the option of walking away or turning him in to the smith. If you take him to the smith, despite their friendship, the smith turns him in to the authorities, who immediately hang him.

Anyway, that is how I play. I help people, be compassionate, and try to figure out the right thing to do at almost all times. For that...for that and 256 hours of play, I got the "Everybody dies" ending...

Still an awesome game. Get it. Play it.

~ Shaun

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