Monday, May 15, 2017

The Witcher (PC) Review

I am not sure how to review a game like this. I enjoyed it, but it has flaws. It reminds me a lot of STALKER in that way. Good story, and level design made me play this game to the end, but quite a few of mechanics are unpolished. I am hoping the sequels address these issues.

The highlights of this game are characters, environment, story and music. I thoroughly enjoyed the setting, and the music is perfect. It is a true classic in my opinion, right up there with Deus Ex and S.T.A.L.K.E.R. I have not played any of the other games in the series yet, but this game has set an excellent platform for future games.

The world is fairly well built. The game involves you revisiting some locations, after they have transformed quite a bit, and I think the art team has done a great job showing this transformation. Vizima levels are fantastic, and the swamp and sewer areas are my least favorite.

Vizima on fire

The story is well told, and they do a good job of keeping the player invested. It was interesting to see how the choices I made are going to impact the the end game.

Controls takes some getting used to. This game is somewhat like Mass Effect; there is no jump, or crouch, and the movement is very stiff. I never felt I had full control over the character's actions. During combat this lack of control will result in some very cheap deaths, especially because Geralt puts his sword away at the beginning of most cutscenes before battle, and as soon as the cutscene is over, a number of enemies will jump at you, and the delay in drawing out the sword will drain some precious health. Who thought this was a good idea? They had to have done this intentionally. One wonders what their rationale was for such a silly mechanic.

Boss battles can be extremely annoying. Just about every boss battle follows the same formula. A cutscene, followed by some dialogue and then combat begins by trapping you in the area in some manner. This may not sound bad, but considering it is not possible to save the game  during combat, dying would mean having to go through the cutscene and dialogue each time. The lack of quick save and quick load only adds to the pain. This is bad game design in my opinion.

Propaganda

Health system is needlessly convoluted. As I understand it, health regenerates automatically at a very slow rate. Eating food should accelerate the rate of regeneration, but its hardly helpful in a combat situation. Geralt has to stop in his tracks and consume food, and this will most likely get you killed. Same goes for health potions. Why the character cannot be in motion while consuming food or potions, I do not know.

The dialogue and voice acting can range from excellent to goofy. Same character models are used all over the game, to the point where, you can have four NPC characters talking to each other that look identical.



Alchemy is another mechanic that was not fully fleshed out. It is possible to craft a lot of potions, but the ones I used most frequently are for regenerating health faster, and then a potion to reduce the toxicity caused by using these health potions. This never made any sense to me. Why would health potions have toxic properties? Either way, I felt like Alchemy was a wasted opportunity in terms of affecting gameplay. The fact that all potions increase toxicity, meant that I had no real to use them, unless absolutely necessary.

Day night cycle are done very well

I still maintain that this game, in-spite of its flaws, is a lot of fun and it is worth playing. I am contemplating installing Witcher 2 right now to pick up where I left off.

Conclusion

+ Story
+ Lore
+ Graphics (at times)
+ Quests

- Combat (at times)
- Voice acting
- Character models
- Convoluted health system
- Annoying boss battles
- Lack of quick save in a PC exclusive game!

Verdict - Must play