Victoria Sananikone, Editor
Photos from the courtesy of Google
DISCLAIMER: I am no gaming connoisseur. In fact, some may even disregard this review based on the misogynistic idea that I am a woman. However, I believe it’s safe to say that most of my opinions on this video game are shared by my likeminded fantasy nerds.
I have recently rekindled the title of gamer-girl, a title that I proudly found an identity in from the ages of around 10-14. Those were the good old days, when you came home from school with about a page or two of homework that you finished within 30 minutes to an hour. Afterwards, you were free to do whatever your heart desired, and mine longed to escape to other worlds of intricate stories, brutal combat, and the addicting sensation of completing a quest. I’m lucky to have a brother who had first ownership of a PS2 (“Barbie Horse Adventures” was like a drug to me), a Wii (Is anyone else an “Animal Crossing” fiend?), and a PS3 (Sorry Matthew, I have now taken full custody of “Skyrim” and “Assassins Creed”). These were the platforms that allowed me to live through different lives, different worlds, and elaborate adventures that I couldn’t get enough of. Years later, as a college student who desperately needs those detachments from reality, “The Witcher” fulfills these passions for me, and holy heck am I hooked, so much so, that I may or may not have stolen my boyfriend’s Xbox and taken it to my dorm room so that I can play more. 😉
Reigning as the most awarded game of all time, “The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt” has won 251 awards that include Game of the Year, Best Role Playing Game, Most Anticipated Game, The People’s Choice Award, and The Most Wanted award. This game consists of everything you want in a video game. From the sharp graphics, the massive map, the option of free roam, the fantastic soundtrack, detailed combat, to the ethical options that ultimately result in the ending of your story, this game steals the thunder for me. If you’ve seen the “Witcher” series on Netflix, you will find yourself understanding the story much better as you play the video game, and you’ll realize that the show is based much more heavily on the Polish folklore of the books than the video game. I intend to read the books one day, because if they’re anything like a Tolkien novel, I’m in for a treat.
The opening cutscene of the game sets up the premise. Geralt (our hero) and Vesemir (an older Witcher) are tracking down Yennefer, a mage who shares the same goal: find Ciri. Princess Cirilla is Geralt’s adopted daughter who possesses a massive amount of power that has the potential to destroy the world that they inhabit. The game focuses on Geralt’s quest to find Yennefer- the love of his life- and track down Ciri before the Wild Hunt can capture her to use her power.
First, let’s talk graphics. Zoo wee mama! This game is beautiful. Not only is each character depicted with unique attributes (besides basically every female character whose objectification lies clearly within the heavy curves of her hips and her gargantuan jugs that practically spill out of her low-cut top. Yep, this game is obviously aimed towards the entertainment of men) but the emotions that they emit are blatant from their expressions. The player is given a visual of what pristine human animation looks like, as opposed to a robot whose facial features remain neutral.
As for the medievalesque world building, I am in absolute awe. From Velen, to Novigrad, to Kaer Morhen, each location and continent within this world consists of lush landscapes that are never ending. You have the ability to run through the hills and scale the snowy mountaintops, exploring every crook and crevice of this magnificent world. From the eerie mist that shrouds the Waterhag infested swamps, to the bright green hues of the forests littered with vibrant flowers and shrubbery. The cities are massive, alive with busy market squares and patrolling guard, with shadowed alleyways that hide dangerous bandits. Beggars litter the corners, prostitutes strut through the streets, and townsfolk mill about their business.
Free roam is popular in video games, an element that offers an extra sense of control and freedom to the player. Free roam can be found in other trendy games such as “Assassins Creed,” “Red Dead Redemption,” “Skyrim,” “Grand Theft Auto,” and “Dragon Age.” The boundaries seem limitless, stretching for miles throughout the Witcher within each destination. You’ll reach different locations that will show up on your map as you fast travel or ride through the landscapes atop Roach, your loyal steed that will come to you when you whistle. You have the ability to swim through moat, rivers, lakes, and oceans, and you can even dive down underwater to pick up items or find valuable goods. As you explore the map, you’ll run into different foes that you can choose to slay or run from. You could encounter wolves, trolls, griffins, dragons, giants, Drowners, Ekhidnas, etc. The bestiary (a log of every monster and foe featured in the game) goes on and on. You may even come across a bandit camp where you can loot their supplies and valuable items if you succeed in killing each of them.
I’m a sucker for a stellar movie score/video game soundtrack. The soundtrack in “The Witcher 3” is insane. Composed by Marcin Przybyłowicz and Mikołaj Stroiński, the Polish duo feature a variety of interesting instruments in their music, including violin, lute, erhu, hurdy gurdy, psaltery, dulcimers, harmoniums, and a significant amount of percussion and drum instruments to concoct this unique music. These tracks feature a frenzy of sounds and intense beats that fall perfectly into place with the cutscenes and game combat. Some of my favorite tracks from the game would be “The Trail,” “Cloak and Dagger,” “Kaer Morhen,” “Geralt of Rivia,” and “Back On The Path.” (I also recommend “The Time of Axe and Sword is Now” although it’s only featured on the score of “The Witcher” Netflix show. That song SMACKS).
When I first started to play “The Witcher,” I struggled to get the hang of the combat controls during a battle. But you’ll find that the smooth quality of combat, the efficiency in which Geralt wields his weapons, and his swift execution of magic are immaculate, granting controls that become easy to repeat as you slaughter your foes. You’re able to control Geralt’s fighting style in a cohesive manner that destroys his enemies with a lethal dance of death. Even at a low level, Geralt still brandishes his weapons with ease, epitomizing the notion that successful sword fighting leans more on a matter of skill, not strength. Evasive maneuvers such as the sidestep and long-range roll allow you to avoid advances from your enemies. The game even allows you to add a combination of oils, potions, decoctions, and bombs to your weapons that allow your adversaries to take more damage depending on what you use.
There are 36 different endings to “The Witcher 3,” endings that result from how much integrity you choose to grant Geralt. I believe that the ratings and overall enjoyment of a video game are heightened when it features moralistic options within the cutscenes. There will be moments where you’re faced with multiple choices for Geralt’s actions or dialogue, and these choices are not as simple as they seem. This style of gameplay forces you to broaden your thinking from the simple mindset of killing your enemies and completing the game. You are meant to play as if you are truly Geralt in the flesh, a warrior who must be viewed as an individual that is cognizant about the concepts of ethos, pathos, and logos. In doing so, you increase your chances of other characters liking you, resulting in better opportunities to receive a happy ending. You will decide whether or not to pick a fight, to help someone in need, or to simply say the right thing.
I would rate “The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt” a solid 9/10. I have an absolute blast playing this game; it’s truly one that you won’t be able to pull away from. I find it hard to grow tired of the quests that throw you into a position of battle and morality, the gorgeous, endless world, the realism of the characters, and the original storyline crafted from the genius of Andrzej Sapkowski’s fictional world.