What2Play: The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
Arnold Remenár / April 23, 2019
( 3 min read )
The third and final entry into the Witcher series manages to deliver an even deeper and more rewarding fantasy RPG experience than it's excellent predecessors. Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt provides a worthy conclusion for Andrzej Sapkowski's epic saga that spawned over seven books and three videogames.
The player controls Geralt of Rivia, a monster hunter known as a Witcher. Once a famed and respected profession, the witchers have gradually become obsolete and marginalized thanks to decades of intrigue, betrayal and decadence. Also, the fact that only three out of ten recruits manage to survive the initiation ritual was not very helpful either. However, those who did not die in agony from ingesting this special alchemical ingredient called "the grasses" have gained lightning quick reflexes, cat-like eyes for seeing in the dark, and other bodily enhancements. They can use extremely strong potions that would otherwise kill normal humans. All of this in the name of protecting a mostly ungrateful humanity from monsters of every size. You see, humans do not look at witchers as heroes or guardians. They are "mutants" and "freaks" who are only useful when the occasional monster comes. This tribal mentality and hostility is frequently made apparent by awesome storytelling.
In the world of the Witcher there is a constant tension between humans and non-humans (dwarves, elves, etc.) but also very real struggles between magic users and the state that wants to control them. The themes in here have an incredible depth and they certainly reflect the society in more ways than one. Nevertheless, let's not get caught up in the lore too much. Although there are several books worth of story material in the series – and they are indeed worth reading – one does not need to have any prior knowledge of the Witcher universe in order to fully enjoy this game. This is possibly one of the most well-done aspects of the game – immediate immersion.
The massive map provides a dizzying amount of content for the player to delve into straight away. The decisions you make and sides you choose can and will impact the world around you in major ways, so pick wisely. From the dozens of side-quests to the most important ones almost all have different ways to complete them. Even such a "mundane" task as getting rid of a banshee that is terrorizing a certain village can be done in several different ways. Perhaps you will go after the ghost immediately and hack it to pieces with your silver sword. However, you could also take your time and gather ingredients to complete a purification ritual that will rid the said ghost of its curse, thereby granting salvation to the lost soul. Not even taking into account the DLCs, there are enough branching paths in this game to warrant two or even three different playthroughs. Just to put things into perspective, I have played this game for around 120+ hours, finished the main story and the two expansions, yet there is still a large number of places I have not even set my foot in.
Given the fact that Sapkowski, the author of the books, is from Poland the lore of the game draws heavily on Slavic culture and mythology. It is not very often that RPGs venture into this cultural territory, and when they do Russia is usually their source of inspiration. I think for this reason the Witcher saga has a particular allure and originality that has managed to reach its bloom in this third and final version. It feels great to stray from the main path into the wilderness only to discover a grotesque monster like the "Poludnica" from Central European folklore. This world is bolstered by great writing and quality voice acting, which consistently provides a great RPG experience.
If you are someone who wants to spend their money on a game that guarantees dozens (hundreds!) of hours of excellent gameplay, an almost never-ending exploration and a rich story that is truly tailored to the choices you make then look no further than Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt.