Thursday, April 21, 2011

Let's Talk About - The Witcher: Enhanced Edition, Director's Cut has announced that it will be selling it's 2007 title The Witcher for $9.99 before The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings' release in May.  If you buy the game between May 10 and May 14, it will be only $4.99.  The game's listing (available for purchase May 10) is here.  They are selling the Enhanced Edition/Director's Cut so this is the new & improved re-release of the game from 2008.  One particular NSFW image on their site shows that this is also the uncensored version which was released in Europe.  If you want the censored version, it can generally be found for roughly $20.00 at any American online store.

The Official Game Description - Your name is Geralt of Rivia and you are a witcher, that means you kill monsters for a living. You were given a special training to be the best at what you do and your body has been enhanced with potent elixirs to help you do it.

Suffering from amnesia you remember nothing of your past. Kaer Morhen, the last remaining keep of the witchers, was attacked by a mysterious organization, just as you were starting to lick your wounds there. The battle is won but the secret recipe for the mutagen, a substance required to create more of your kind, has been stolen. The surviving witchers set out to find and reclaim it and punish everyone involved. Memory loss or not, you are one of them.

Some Thoughts Of My Own -  It has been a little over a year since I finished The Witcher, which is CD Projekt RED's videogame based on a universe created by Polish fantasy author Andrzej Sapkowski.  While the game could be frustrating at times (I'm looking at you Kikimore Queen ... how I hate your guts), it is quite possibly one of the best cRPGs I have played in a long while.  Played from the viewpoint of a rather jaded, hardened, anti-hero of sorts, this game thrives on its use of grey morality.  With this morality system, there are a number of decisions the game presents which are truly a case of "pick your own poison."  There are very few completely good individuals and just as few completely evil characters in game.  Many of the decisions you make seem deceptively simple, yet hours down the road (long after you can load a past save) the decisions can come back to haunt you or help you as the case may be.  The Witcher's art design is phenomenal in a dark and gritty kind of way, and its soundtrack is out of this world.  It isn't bombastic in the manner of Bioware scores, even though I really love Bioware music, but it is instead subtle and a real joy to listen to.  I spent about 90 hours playing the game, but it's not possible to count the number of hours I have spent listening to the soundtrack by itself.

The Witcher's combat system (while initially frustrating) is actually quite intuitive and challenging with different fighting styles (strong, fast, and group) and two different types of swords (one for men and one for beasts.)  Situations often call for switches in both fighting styles and swords mid-combat.  When combined with various magical signs, powerful bombs, and a series of potions, combat requires a great deal of strategy and can be very rewarding when things go right.  Perhaps the most impressive portion of the game's mechanics is that of potion consumption.  There are no "instant heal" potions, and the rate with which consumption can take place is very limited.  Each potion has a certain toxicity (low to high) and the amount of toxicity affects the number of potions which can be consumed at once.  Generally I found that Geralt was limited to two or three at most, so you really have to decide which ones are most important to you.  This can be difficult when you feel as if Geralt needs four or five to give him the edge over his competition.  Five potions, however, will most certainly max out his toxicity meter, and four will likely strain his heart so much that his vision will become severely impaired.  Pick your poisons wisely.

If you have not guessed it, The Witcher is rated M for Mature and it certainly does everything it can to live up to this rating.  The storytelling is deep and completely worthwhile, but it does not skimp on the aspects which accompany all mature games.  One of the most common criticisms of the game is that of "sexism" and "objectification."  It is true that Geralt is an unabashed ladies man; but what critics don't tell you is that the extent to which he, uh, indulges his impulses is completely up to the player.  If you are understandably offended by very scantily clad women, foul language, and bloody violence then this is not the game for you.  If one can look past all that, however, they will be rewarded with a rich story which asks gamers to contemplate the human (elven/dwarven) condition.  The story also makes one consider what they, and in-game individuals, are truly willing to sacrifice in the name of (their definition of) love, freedom, and justice.

Image: Gamingbolt

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