There is one consensual and unifying abnormality in gaming right now called apathy. The complete legitimized reservation to discharge any enamoured response to a source that demands such extrovert reactions. We are intolerant to excitement, with our formative response to stimulation one of perfunctory caution. Anticipation has been the secondary composite of the more primary expectation; Hope. The hope that expectations can be fulfilled. The hope that the game imparts a world that functions. The hope, that above all, it doesn’t suck harder than a Katie Price vacuum cleaner. So it’s good to see The Witcher 3 has arrived with all the placid equanimity of hurricane in a music shop. I’m seldom compliant to the restraints of expectant conformity, still exhuming those surreptitious butterflies that flutter in my stomach with expeditious intensity whenever images or discussions concerning the Witcher are shared. And I know I shouldn’t because I’ve been hurt so many times before! I’ve been besieging it to be good. Please, please be good! After receiving the game through my letterbox, I pierced its cloistered packaging and roused its gilded stature from the shroud of its encompassing restraints and l was immediately excited by the tangible manual, containing actual definition and specifications on how to do things! It’s a conceit displaced by the temperance of progression. To include a physical booklet that explains individual buttons and their specific actions was such a minimalist inclusion, but one of such apparent care that I couldn’t help but feel at ease. Of course it isn’t about its assented finery but the game itself and most individual’s would be overwhelmed with the compulsion to play. Me, I wanted to look at the thing. Look at trees, the grass, the sky, the sea. Branch off through the venerable fertility of a continent that looks like it’s been curated by an obsessive compulsive, omnipotent being. There’s a vast range acquitted with esoteric propagation that is only limited by your desires rather than allowance.
“Horse riding hasn’t been this engrossing since Red Dead Redemption.”
So few games can generate such sensory acuity without it becoming fake, especially one so extensively mailable. Tree branches are bristled by the vapid exchanges of errant wind. Swamps are precipitated bogs writhing in pestilential death and reclusive threats. Villages are bastions of functionality, bustling with commerce and not merely staged apparatus. The inhabitants feel genuine, as though they are living organic lives that isn’t concerned with awaiting your prestigious arrival. It doesn’t convey a civilisation on a timed router, walking back and forth between a tavern and the vestiges of some hearth. Whether its tending to livestock or reprimanding their children, everything, no matter how innocuous appears real, brimming with harmonised society replete with actualized activity. They even react to your arrival with benign hostility. Due to the much reviled reputation of Witchers, you stride into a tavern receiving looks of incredulity like Clint Eastwood in a western. The rueful barbs directed at your kind is only abated by swift exit or even swifter executions. But this just provides further advocacy to explore the blooming tapestry of dense woodland set against the rich canopy of deep blue skies, emblazoned with lingering clouds that don’t convene to a shapeless form. Sorry I was lost there for a second. Even the most vestigial of environments convene with congenial liberation. Trees appear rooted as though they haven’t simply been placed by some technical advisor but is actually years of growth. Peaks mounted by glinting snow, splayed and wilted by reticulated ravines looks as though its been carved by natural erosion rather than some guy tapping on a keyboard. Some people would feel obliged to compare its unblemished ambiance to that of painting, remarking on the subtle brush strokes that appear indistinct. For me it’s like that moment when you first see a woman’s boobs, and you just hear an inverted chorus of angelic harmonies. Of course the densely expansive environments aren’t without perils, as it’s a world populated by a bevy of carnivorous beasts.
“The combat is dynamic, but not always responsive.”
Wolves, feral canines, also referred to as dogs of death! (probably), composite mythological creatures such as Griffins. Peasants and vagrants mobilised by survival, even restless apparitions once derived from brides will endeavour to castigate you as you traverse the unexplored reaches. These confrontations never feel randomized but more of voluntary migration of wildlife. And because of the uncertainty of what precise combatants will attempt to harvest your organs for digestion, excursions become wholly unnerving. Your be cantering through some auspicious pasture, presumably harvesting flowers for alchemy only to hear the rasping tremor of some distant beast, startling your mare as it begins naaying in startled fear, rearing its hind legs in protest. Linger too long and your horse will simply flip you and flee. Damn the self-preservation of your not so trusted stead! You have to be smart. Utilise the beastality, a ledger that documents the weaknesses of specific enemies and spam it for your own protection. Go into confrontations, even randomized encounters in your excursions without the expressed strategic advantage, then be prepared to lose. Combatants are scrupulously terse, often garrisoned by surreptitious companions that will suddenly envelope you with brazen ferocity. Adaptive transitions are imperative, flitting between attack, parrying and evasion. Substituting overt attacks for optimised magical professions is also necessary. Conjuring some pyromantic incantation to engulf a partially annoying adversary is immediately gratifying, as you can almost feel the plume of incinerating flesh extracted from its flailing body. You need to harness your combative strategies efficiently. Know when to dodge, when to parry and when to run! Constant passive tuition is initiated through your own complacency, so your always learning from your mistakes. You pause, re-evaluate, think. Don’t run at them, disperse them, utilise igni and replenish health accordingly. Oh and don’t expect to simply abscond from a particularly vicious liaison and rejuvenate health, as virility regenerates at a staggering pedantic pace. On easier levels you can meditate to restore lost health, but on harder difficulties you will resent its absence.
“Now to find my Ocarina.”
There are ample suppositories, restorative rations and potions that can be concocted or purchased from the various peddlers throughout The Witcher. There’s a functionality to common implements you scavenge too. They can be sold for meagre sum, or fashioned into customisable supplements to improve the quality of your weapons and armour. Griffin heads and other ghastly aberrations that you’ll inherit through victories over specific beats are gifted parlances for your dowries, as you reap significant monetary replenishment for your privation. You can go anywhere, do anything, all without limitations until you literally reach the very end of the world. What more is there to say, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is the personification of perfection. Yep, perfect in every respect. Perfect, perfect, perfect…….almost.
“The scenery at times is simply …..wow!”
The game always struggles for narrative purchase. Though hardly inept, it does commit to a stringent series of padded futilities, structured in such conveniences that you’d mistake your ordinances for a road trip, travelling from place to place just because? And I mean come on, who wants to traverse such an uninhibited land anyway? The combat isn’t as intuitive as you’d expect when expedient diplomacy is required, with sword strokes and parry’s are perpetrated with restrained versatility, as your character responds to your commands as though his submerged in jam. The text is often illegible, reduced to such small words that you’d be forgiven for thinking that your consulting an ophthalmologist’s eye chart. Gwent, one of many extraneous activities is an intricate card game which can be played at any time during your adventure. Trouble is its like your father saying “Hey son, how do you feel about having a kick about?” only for you to reply “No thanks dad, I’m going to play Fifa.” There are textural hindrances, frame rate issues, loading screens seemingly borrowed from BloodBorne, the game even froze and stopped working completely only 10 minutes in! Though I’m pleased to report no further interruptions. But my biggest and most unexpected grievance is The Witcher himself.
“The only thing more frustrating than this, is how long it takes to respawn!”
You first encounter Geralt of Rivia (also dubbed Gerald by myself) bathing in suds, reclined, beard matted and ridden with lice, with his little Witcher obscured by conveniently situated objects with only the suggestion of female anatomy. Take that misogyny! It’s soon revealed that he’s a seasoned professional tutoring at an academy of sorts, with a capacity for distributing leniency or aggressive retaliation. He’s as moralistic as you wish him to be, as prompted decisions are decided by your own proclivities. He’s burdened by prophecies, extends no-nonsense courtesy to those that obstruct his goals. He’s quick, vigilant, and even refrains from celibacy, discovering alternate helms to sheath his sword if you catch my drift (wink, wink!). In short his a bad ass and certainly not to be trifled with. But it doesn’t leave much retributive personality, for me at least, to empathise with. Perhaps it’s my lack of knowledge concerning the overarching lineage of series, where others more acquainted will be more lenient. Maybe his dogged determination constitutes as suitable reparation for his latent charisma. Maybe I’m just so fatigued by the vapid candour of reviewers praising this game, that I feel inclined to puncture holes where there are none. I really couldn’t say.
What is evident is that The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt provides immersive province’s delegated by political disparity, that you can completely ignore because you’ve discovered a cave ripe for pillaging or an adorable bunny rabbit to devour. And make no mistake that the discrepancies I’ve exerted are negligible. You will adore the open world created here (apparently 20% bigger than Skyrim) replete in a hue of vibrancy that begs to be discovered, scavenged and drenched in the blood of vanquished foes. Take note Bethesda; THIS is how you do it!
What did you think of The Witcher 3? Let me hear your thoughts. Cheers.