An Hour With: The Witcher

Something new I thought I’d try. Kind of inspired by ever-lovin’ Kyle Orland’s A Game For Lunch, basically, it’s a first impressions based solely on the first hour of a game. One hour, no more. Clearly, this isn’t a real review or anything, just a collection of initial impressions. And clearly this serves the dual purpose of creating a thread for people who have played the game further to add their own impressions. That said, a motif that occurs again and again when talking to the most successful developers is the paramount importance of the first hour of play. It may be cruel, but if a developer working in the mainstream can’t get the first hour right, there’s a large question mark over whether they can’t get ANYTHING right. Bear that in mind.

Sexy Witcher

Anyway, The Witcher. For those who haven’t been paying attention, it’s a Polish RPG based around a cult-pulp fantasy books from out there. Essentially, its “thing” is that it takes all the standard fantasy tropes, and drags them through the gutter. Racism is a big theme – smartly, as racism is something built into the foundations of most modern fantasy (i.e. Some races are lesser than others. You can kill orcs and take all their stuff as – hey! – they’re orcs) – and you have things like the Elves being radical terrorists and so on. Sex, drugs, violence and an albino with a big sword (i.e. you). Adult, mature fantasy. Abstractly.

Here’s what I made of the Witcher in its designated hour..

First thing that hits you is its production values. The opening, lengthy cutscene is the sort of thing which only Blizzard only really do anymore, in terms of length and amount of money thrown at the screen. In fact, all the maps have an impressive level of detail. Castles are huge. Rivers are deep. Mountains are High. (If I lost you would I cry. Oh how I love you baby, baby, baby, baby – Phil Spector Ed). Following forum threads, there’s some rolling at the wooden acting in the animation department, but having come directly from Neverwinter Nights 2, it’s not bad at all. In fact, off the top of my head, I can’t think of any third-person RPG that’s as pretty as The Witcher overall. So well done them.

The second thing that hits you is the lengthy cut-scenes. As in the length of them. To their credit, they don’t resort to people just sitting and talking at each other endlessly, rather choosing to show don’t tell in a cinematic fashion – but they’re regular and if they continued, would probably get on my tits a little. The forums also had some people raising eyebrows with the loading pauses in cities, but since there were no cities in the opening, I have no problems to report.

The third thing is the writing, but we’ll get back to that, as I don’t want to be mean yet.

When you finally get to play, you’re lobbed straight into a battle. Which is good, as I wanted to blow some steam and/or people’s limbs off. You’re given a variety of third-person perspectives to try, from far-view strategy modes to more direct over-the-shoulder control. What surprised me is that I gravitated directly towards the direct control. Yes. you control a single character which may mean a more direct method worked mentally, but I think it’s much more to do with the combat mechanics.

Basically, you click on someone to attack. Then, if you attack again at the correct moment, you chain to form a combo, doing more damage, and allowing you to go for a third attack. Stun people and you can dispatch them in a bloody Mortal Kombat style. You can also switch between three sword stances (with another three stances later, for dealing with monsters). Oh, and spells and healing and all that usual stuff. But the relevant bit is that you’re chaining the attacks, having the person you’re fighting directly in front of you makes the clicking seem more relevant. From a distance, I found it immediately vague, unsure of whether I was clicking air near the guy or a different guy or the guy and… well, fuck it. Me, over the shoulder, sticking the sword in someone’s face with a nimble click. The way to go.

In short, in the first burst, I kinda liked the combat. For an action RPG – though, due to the amount of talking, it’s worth stressing this is not a Diablo-style action-RPG – this is actually a major plus.

I also got my first chance to play with some of the more RPG-esque mechanics. Leveling up allows you to unlock abilities on many development trees – though the trees aren’t exactly that wide. So, better powers or stats or combos (I upped my strong-sword style combo, and got a lovely jump attack). Witchers also have a heavy hand in alchemy – the initial plot centres around this – so collecting ingredients and turning them into handy potions seemed done in a natural way. As someone who tends to avoid crafting generally – Conan doesn’t make his sword, he takes it from the bloody corpses of his enemies, and their women too, etc – I fell into this fairly naturally. And by making a healing potion, I lead to another more-discussed element in the game. Yes, I got to shag someone.

Okay. Let’s talk Mature and Adult, because they’re not quite the same concept. Adult, basically, means violence or fucking – i.e. Adult Film Industry, for example. It basically means kids should stay away. But Adult content doesn’t necessarily mean Mature (i.e. Sophisticated, Grown Up, whatever). In fact, Adult content can (and usually is) profoundly juvenile.

Talking fantasy, Gormenghast is Mature. Moorcock’s best stuff is Mature. Jim wandering past says that Gene Wolfe is Mature, but I was gonna go for China Miéville. In games, the obvious one to reach for is Planescape. The Witcher, at least in its first hour, only manages Adult. The problem isn’t so much the sex scene – of which I’ve seen far worse (Cross-ref: Fahrenheit’s rhythm-action rhythm-method-action) but the display of a bawdy card of the woman in a soft-erotica pose afterwards is – obviously – i) Tacky as hell. ii) The girl doesn’t even look anything at all like the character I’ve just had sex with. Point being, the bigger problem isn’t the fact it’s a sexist-pokemon-mechanic (which it is) – it’s that it makes the game very hard to take as seriously as it wants you too.

The second issue is the writing. Now, it’s not bad, bad. It’s just sub-average and amateurishly converted. Characters use anachronisms unconvincingly – for example, the Sorceress being referred to as a “Babe” a lot by the boss Witcher . The problem isn’t of course him using a diminutive (though there’s a particularly funny bit where he tells another Witcher to treat her with a bit more respect, before going back to calling her babe) but… “Babe”. Avoiding cod epic fantasy is one thing. This is another.

Of course, that’s subjective as most things are about writing. If you want something which is pretty much a rule… well, let’s look to exclamation marks. They’re dangerous things anyway. Fitzgerald said that exclamation marks are like laughing at your own joke. One of my production editors managed it more pithily by a sign above his desk which read “Exclamation Marks are for wankers!”. However, there is literally only one use of multiple exclamation marks. Irony. If you use it, you’re using it to mock the idea of using multiple exclamation marks. Kitsch import games get away with them for that reason. The more serious the tone of your game, the more an appearance of a “NO!!!!” will begat a “NO!” from us. At least a couple of times in the first hour, a character Seemed Very Excited!!! which is just plain rubbish and makes you suspect they should have spent the money on the opening cutscene on a proper translator.

(It’s made worse by the actual voice-acting not being anywhere near as excited as the !!! may imply. And !!! implies people on MySpace who really like MCR.)

But it’s worth remembering there’s a difference between writing and story. Most posturing writers will have probably read Robert McKee’s STORY and remember a section where he describes working as a script reader, noting that he recommended rejecting many stories which were beautifully written but fundamentally dull but never, ever wrote a rejection review for a story which was emotionally brilliant but apparently written by a Neanderthal in his own faeces… because if he did, he’d have been sacked. The name on the door is story department.

And in the story department, The Witcher actually interested me. I liked the world. I wasn’t so sure about the characters, but I wanted to know what happened to them. I was even interested in what the agreeably sado-mascohistically clad magicians were up to (especially because one of the bad guys was called The Professor, which ties into an RPS running joke we’ll tell you about another time). I wanted to know what happened next. Which, for the first hour of an RPG, no matter what failings it has, has to be counted as something of a success.

So, would I play more of the Witcher? Abstractly I wouldn’t object to it, but I suspect not. There’s too many games lined up between now and Christmas. However, while I was slaughtered for noting it in a review recently, while it’s been a great year for PC games generally, those who are specifically single-player RPG genre fans have had a poor time of it (MoTB and… that’s it, unless you want to go for Hellgate or further into the MMO). In that climate, you make do. And the Witcher is definitely better than just making do, while falling short of the claims of certain forum members treating it like the second coming.

Or it could just improve massively. Any Witcher-veterans out there care to explain why they think it’s 9/10?


  1. SwiftRanger says:

    I am not a Witcher-veteran but practically every games forum I visit is raving about the game, despite the troublesome things everyone knows about now.

    Sometimes the mistakes in a game are so clear (in the first hour or not) that you take them for granted to keep enjoying what is done right.

  2. rory says:

    I’m taking it you include yourself in all those “posturing writers” who read Story then?


  3. MisterBritish says:

    I’m quite enjoying it. It’s definitely a refreshing change from from the more classic d&d styles and conventions we’ve got used to (not to say that isn’t good).

    The good really stands out: fun, active combat which ties in with the levelling system really well, original world and backstory, focus on the neutral path, alchemy and how you are encouraged to read and gain as much knowledge as possible.

    The only major turn-off for me is the shoddy writing/translation, allow me to demonstrate with a quote from a conversation with a merchant:

    You: How’s business?
    Merch: You think me a seller of turnips? I run businesses you can’t even fathom.
    You: I see.
    Merch: You’re confusing reflected stars for the night sky. I’m waiting for important news.
    You: Farewell.

    The overall story might be excellent, but when it’s told in chunks like that, exposition is a chore rather than a reward.

  4. Newblade says:

    From what I’ve read, the first hour of the game is a bit misleading about its potential.

  5. Xaosjim says:

    The first hour is actually my least favorite part of The Witcher. I found myself spending most of the prologue telling the screen “Can I play now?” I was getting tired of Cutscene, walk 10 feet, cutscene, repeat. Once you get out into act 1 and beyond the game really opens up. I am enjoying the quests and the storyline. The combat system is a lot of fun (I play in the Over-the-shoulder camera mode 90% of the time). Oddly enough, I am in love with the Dice Poker minigame and have spent an embarrassing amount of time looking for all the opponents in each chapter.

    The quests also have a refreshing bit of moral greyness to them. When finishing several quests I have had a hard time choosing who to support because just about everybody has something shady going on in this world. There isn’t much “She good, they Bad!” type storytelling so far for me, which is a plus in my book.

  6. Ghiest says:

    From what I’ve read, the first hour of the game is a bit misleading about its potential.

    Which is possibly the most stupid thing you can do when it comes down to a Story based RPG. I’ve got it on order, but only because it was cheap and I was bored, oh and I’m sure I’m starting to get RSI from my 5 hour TF2 marathons :)

  7. John Walker says:

    I found it gobsmackingly poor for the first three hours. It was only the sudden improvement once you’ve finished the opening chapter that rescued it from being torn to shreds by me. But three hours is a hell of a long time for that.

    I’m far more down on the writing that Kieron. I found the story completely ambiguous, and as you progress, the dialogue descends into utter gibberish (as I’ll be demonstrating in a post tomorrow, hopefully). Especially as once you leave the opening castle, the story evaporates as you rush around doing chores for the locals. Although this is where the game develops an amiable tone and becomes far more fun.

    Also, if I have to kill another ghost dog, I will kill real life dogs until they’re ghosts too.

  8. James says:

    Point being, the bigger problem isn’t the fact it’s a sexist-pokemon-mechanic (which it is) – it’s that it makes the game very hard to take as seriously as it wants you too.

    For me, the soft-porn cards are really thrown in as an afterthought to pique the interest of hot-coffee veterans and games journalists who are liable to rise up and shout something about sick filth. They don’t impact on my willingness to take the game seriously because they’re not a major game mechanic – you see them once, and that’s it. Not worthy of lengthy discussion.

    … despite the troublesome things everyone knows about now.

    What, like the Aurora engine being a complete memory monster?

    The only major turn-off for me is the shoddy writing/translation, allow me to demonstrate with a quote from a conversation with a merchant:

    There are hiccups, but that’s not a reliable representation of the game’s dialogue as a whole.

    Any Witcher-veterans out there care to explain why they think it’s 9/10?

    Realistically, it isn’t. Far too many technical difficulties for it to run well on malnourished systems. Some game mechanics are under-explained, such as upgrading weapons with stones and runes. Silly restrictions like only being able to carry one “trophy” at a time (an item which you can sell to certain people for cash). Poor clipping in some areas. A combat system which makes it too easy to be surrounded by enemies and find yourself in a constant state of reeling from attacks until you die. A dialogue system where greyed-out conversation items sometimes lead you to new options rather than repeating previously heard ones, etc.

    Having said all of that, the game as a whole presents a wonderful experience which far outweighs its minor niggles. This is the sort of game Piranha Bytes wished they’d made.

  9. Fruitlesseffort says:

    The game definately improves once you get inside the city. The play area grows considerably and the quests start piling up. There is still the confusing dialogue and occassional random pointless swearing eg. “your mother sucks dwarf cock”. But the story gets really interesting and characters and elements of the overall plot start to come together. Plus there is no more demon dogs, which was a relief.

  10. SwiftRanger says:

    ” “From what I’ve read, the first hour of the game is a bit misleading about its potential.”

    Which is possibly the most stupid thing you can do when it comes down to a Story based RPG.”

    It wasn’t an issue for many people in BG2.

    “What, like the Aurora engine being a complete memory monster?”

    Stuff like that yeah.

  11. Alistair says:

    I’m just into Chapter 2, but so far I’d agree that the writing falls short on two levels. Dialogue doesn’t flow in any sort of natural, let alone entertaining order, which is a shame when they are going for quite an individual tone. More importantly, the parts which move the plot on are clumsy and unclear. It’s a little like Stalker in that regard. The end of Ch1 and beginning of Ch2 have a lot of energy expended on them, but not enough focus. Needs fewer plot elements, better presented… Personally I had a great time in Chapter 1 though. 9 out of 10? Sure, for some people :) I want to be in a world, not a shooting gallery…

  12. Alistair says:

    (and of course, it has its own weighted companion cubes…)

  13. fluffy bunny says:

    Are there _any_ RPGs where the first hour isn’t a bit poor?

    I mean, take Oblivion. I loved it to bits, but the first dungeon was boring and the whole thing with the emperor felt so scripted it hurt. The only reason it got away with it was that it looked pretty stunning back then.

  14. Kieron Gillen says:

    Put it like this: In the first hour with Planescape I wasn’t rolling my eyes at the writing.


  15. Thelps says:

    “your mother sucks dwarf cock”… SOLD!

    But yeah, that’s ‘adult’ for you.

  16. Newblade says:

    I don’t see the problem with the “your mother sucks dwarf cock” bit. Maybe you’re nitpicking.
    If it’s said by a villager I see no problem. In the books villagers are depicted in that way: they’re outspoken and use that kind of words. They’re rude.

  17. jamscones says:

    On bare ladies and the scourging thereof:

    Your attitude to this is going to closely mirror your level of distaste for Page 3 girls, I think. Personally, I quite like them, and I certainly don’t mind it in The Witcher. I’ve read The Last Wish, and it’s clear that Geralt takes every opportunity to avail himself of The Ladies, being a supercharged outcast killing machine. He probably walks round with a permanent raging speedhorn, so this is entirely in character.

    The game actually makes you work for some of the sex, and make choices to get other encounters, so it absolutely isn’t gratuitously presented. As far as I’ve seen (Chapter 2) the game never forces you to have sex with anyone, so if, like Kieron, you don’t want cheap sexism and bare breasts spoiling your swords and sorcery adventure (perish the thought!), you can just force Geralt to grit his teeth and kill his way to the finish line.

    And never see the love of a woman.

  18. Kieron Gillen says:

    The problem isn’t the sex. The problem is the cards.

    The former is plot and world and story and to be applauded. The latter is just benippled Pokemon and so silly it breaks the atmosphere.

    (Note I argued primarily against it not because of the sexism, but because of its effect on the tone of the game)


  19. Ryan says:

    Oh come now, sometimes “!!!” implies people on Myspace who really like !!!.

  20. Leeks! says:

    I laughed out loud when I got my first card. I was willing to give them the benefit of the doubt by assuming it was tongue in cheek, but then people started talking again. Honestly, with a few exceptions, the dialog is atrocious. A lot of it feels ‘prop’-written–Here’s the religious zealot, here’s the simple guy, here’s the magic albino… And they never really move beyond that. Every character has their “thing,” and that’s all they ever get.

    That said, there really are a lot of great ideas here. I agree with Kieron that the way it plays with fantasy tropes and common subtext (racism, etc.) is pretty neat. I’m not quite out of Ghost Dog county yet, but so far I’ve been struck with just how much detail there is everywhere. Every single little thing you pick up has a cryptic fantasy-y name that just /feels/ right, and textures the world by divergence.

    As for the Story comment… (time for some hack writer posturing)

    Well, I’m not sure what Kieron was describing is really in line with what McKee meant. I think he would have described all of the universal stuff being discussed as ‘description,’ which he–rightly or wrongly–aligned with the ‘literary’ content of a script, not the ‘story’ content. Not that the definition matters for the point KG made, but personally, I’m finding the ‘story content’ here pretty weak as well. That isn’t to say it can’t pick up, but right now, I would describe the narrative as: A heap of fantasy cliches so feebly tied together by their character arcs it’s only the sheer gravity of their pretense holding them together.

    Whoa. Now I’m rambling. And coming off as though I don’t like the game, which I do. There’s enough here to keep me going, certainly. But I’m a big giant nerd who’ll play anything where numbers float away from monsters when I hit them, so I’m probably not the best litmus test for this one, anyway.

    I guess what I’m really trying to say is that, sure, it’s good. It’s a fine game. But Planescape it ain’t.

  21. fluffy bunny says:

    “Put it like this: In the first hour with Planescape I wasn’t rolling my eyes at the writing.”

    Maybe not, but Planescape is yet another RPG that needs some time before it reveals just how cool it is. The first hour is definitely not the best, IMO.

  22. Matt says:

    I don’t think the main issue is the sex or the cards.

    So far the dialogue is almost game breaking for me. Not just for the reason mentioned in the article but for the way it basically skips as quickly as it can to the end. It is like the writers wanted to get to the end of any conversation as quickly as possible, and with the least fuss, or emotional involvement.

    The reason the whole seduction thing is so ridiculous is that you don’t seduce people, you basically say. “Up for it?” and they reply “I guess,” then you get a card. If Geralt was portrayed as someone with charisma, and some sort of romance/seduction was written, then the whole thing would not be so disjointed. So basically it doesn’t build up a picture of the character, or provide depth to the story in any significant way, and there is no skill involved, on the part of the player, or the character.

    It seems to me it is something stuck on by the developers to get people talking and to persuade pre-pubescent kids think the game is worth getting because of it. If that would appear to be working. The reality is it is simplistic, childish and pretty pointless.

    Also that first card… I know I talked about symbolism in games before but ack they had a naked woman, covered by a bed sheet with a cat sat between her legs, how blunt can you get? And I don’t mean it is symbolising that she is a witch. Didn’t Are You Being Served do the whole “have you seen my pussy” gag to death already?

  23. Alec Meer says:

    It’s worth pointing out that since this piece went up, a few people are finding this site by Googling for stuff like ‘witcher nude girls’ and ‘witcher cards’. Sleazy it may be, but looks like it’s been depressingly effective.

  24. Richard says:

    I don’t think I’ve ever mentioned a female game character in a blog post or online article who hasn’t shown up with the word ‘nude’ or ‘naked’ or ‘sex’ after her name in the search results.

    Also, a lot of people seem to think there’s a game called ‘leisure sweet larry’.

  25. Andrew says:

    God bless WordPress’ stat-tracking. It’s good for some excellent laughs.

  26. Andrew says:

    I should add that someone once found a music blog that I contribute to by searching for ‘vikings kill their own family shrooms’, and God knows how that related to music reviews.

  27. Zell says:

    You know, that’s not a bad summary of that great Icelandic epic, Í skugga hrafnsins.

  28. Thiefsie says:

    Regardless of the banter this game is causing, I can’t wait to try it out if nothing more than to form my own opinion. I suppose the cards worked in that way too. haha

    Whether I get deeper than a few hours in will remain to be seen with the flood of quality gaming coming now though.

  29. Nick says:

    The first hour of BG2 (well, the first 30 minutes or so, first part of first hour? ) was fairly awful. A brilliant RPG however.

    Actually thinking about it, a lot of “first hours” of games can be fairly dull as they try and ease you into the game itself – forced tutorials and such. I’m not trying to defend The Witcher based on this as I’ve not played it – although being an RPGphile I will due to the massive drought – the article just made me think about the first hour experience of a variety of games. That I can remember anyway.

  30. Kieron Gillen says:

    Thiefsie: I’ll answer other stuff in the morning, but that’s pretty much why I decided to play it.


  31. mac says:

    I’ve played up til the start of the third chapter and this is one of my favorite rpg’s. I don’t get all the complaints about the dialogue, Chapter 2 was basically story-nerdgasm with so much depth and plenty storylines. This game beats BG2 hands down for me, I loved BG2 but I’m not gonna let nostalgia cloud my judgement.

    I don’t care much for the cards either, it’s a fun thing to add I suppose and it sortof represents how he is in the books. It’s better than a stupid fade-to-black like most games. And it gives prudes something to be upset about.

    Several characters are recurring and have depth, and everything you experience in the game is added to the journal which is absolutely massive. The only problem I’ve had with the game was loadingtimes, but after a defrag of the harddrive (something that gaming journalists don’t seem to do judging by the reviews) it was reduced significantly. And now I’m having the time of my life with one of the best story-based rpg’s. And unlike playing a fighter in BG2/NWN, the combat is actually fun instead of only autoattacking. This game is definately a 9.5 for me. The metacritic userscore weighs around the same. Even thinking of reviewing just the first hour of a 60-80hour story-based game is pretty dumb. You don’t even get out of the tutorial act with that.

  32. Eschatos says:

    Looks nice. I’d like to get it, but there are too many other great games coming out soon. Maybe next year.

  33. Nick says:

    “loved BG2 but I’m not gonna let nostalgia cloud my judgement.”

    Why is it that liking a game more than a few years old is considered nostaligic? I play through the game every couple of years and it’s still superb by anyones standards. I find it odd that the rose tinted argument is rarely – if ever – used when comparing, for example, films, yet it’s seemingly not allowed to prefer say System Shock 2 to Bioshock because it’s older and thus you must be favouring it for that reason alone.

  34. Evan says:

    “I find it odd that the rose tinted argument is rarely – if ever – used when comparing, for example, films, yet it’s seemingly not allowed to prefer say System Shock 2 to Bioshock because it’s older and thus you must be favouring it for that reason alone.”

    This is because the way we view games is shaped by the era in which we play them. BG2 may be a great game (I haven’t played it, personally) but I don’t think anyone would argue it would get the same scores it got when it was released originally if it were released now…

    So when we say “X game is better than Y game” and we’re not referring to games from the same time period, it’s hard to be at all objective – the quality of a game has to be judged at least in part by the era in which it was released and by extension the technology that was available at the time of release. It’s just impossible to do that with games, because no direct comparison is possible with movies.

    It’s like trying to decide who was more attractive at 20 – the 75 year old woman or the 25 year old woman when you can’t see pictures of either of them when they were younger. There’s just no perspective with games the way there are with movies.

  35. Schadenfreude says:

    I’m not gonna weigh in on the Witcher here at all but I have to drunkenly mumble that the openings of BG1 (Candlekeep FedEx), BG2 (Irenicus’ Boreatorium) and Torment (Morte’s GPS-guided clickfest) were all incredibly dull; and they’re my three favourite RPGs ever.

  36. Leeks! says:

    Hey guys… Can someone tell me if I read this right, or if it’s just my depraved little nerdbrain filling in gaps where there aren’t any:

    Is “the most effective” way of imbibing the ingame equivalent of cocaine to wank off with it? If that’s the case, then this shit is funnier than Portal.

  37. Nick says:

    “This is because the way we view games is shaped by the era in which we play them.”

    I reject that entirely. The only real difference between most games of today and games of 10 or 15 years ago are technical ones – graphics, physics, surround sound and all that malarky. Basic gameplay remains largely unchanged with the exception of additional abilities added within those aformentioned areas.

    Much like in film, special effects, colour.. sound have all progressed so things are doable that weren’t before (green screen, CG and so on), but at the end of it all it’s still all quite similar (stylistically different obviously, but at the core).

    Of course you can compare games of the past to games now, they are still very similar (depending on how far you go back of course). System Shock 2 and Bioshock for instance, they are very, very similar games. It’s quite easy to be objective, it’s less easy not to be slightly annoyed at having your opinion dismissed by someone who seems to think your are merely looking back with fondness on a game that wasn’t really that good.

    Is that suggesting that suddenly, since graphics got better games must have as well? That’s simply not true. Neither is it true that everything was better in the old days of Voodoo 2s and whatnot, just that some games have yet to be outdone by their more modern equivelents in terms of overall quality, be it storyline, core mechanics, just plain fun or whatever.

  38. Zell says:

    Nick: I would argue that the shift from 2D to 3D was the massive one. Everything with the realm of 3D has been a relatively minor progression.

  39. Nick says:

    Before I respond, I’m not 100% sure what you are arguing against, are you suggesting that 3D makes gameplay better by default over 2D? If so, what do you mean by 3D, as there have been 3D games for a long, long time in various forms.

  40. _Nocturnal says:

    “Regardless of the banter this game is causing, I can’t wait to try it out if nothing more than to form my own opinion.”

    Then you shouldn’t try it. Seriously, playing games for any other reason than wanting to play them is… perverse. It’s games, for crying out loud!

    “Any Witcher-veterans out there care to explain why they think it’s 9/10?”

    I don’t think it’s 9/10. It’s not 9/10 at all. For me, it’s at least 11/10. Because I let it. Appreciation is a two-sided process and by playing something just to form an opinion you’re eliminating your part in that process.

    So call me a fanboy.

  41. Shinan says:

    I just want to say this completely off the actual topic.

    China Miéville is my hero.

  42. Jim Rossignol says:

    Appreciation is a two-sided process and by playing something just to form an opinion you’re eliminating your part in that process.

    What a peculiar thing to say.

  43. storyteller says:

    I haven’t played the Witcher yet and don’t know how it plays there, but as I am familiar with original novels, just to note: the use of “modern” language in them, all the anachronisms etc is what made them so well-known. Author was criticized and praised and whatno and his use of language actually has made its way into Polish textbooks (on 15yo level) already… And keep in mind, the novels have their age and were perceived a lil bit differently in Polish reality.

    But collecting cards doesn’t seem fun to me… Will see.

  44. _Nocturnal says:

    You sit and wait to be entertained, maybe you grab a magnifying lens at some point and start scrutinizing the damned thing searching for entertaining bits – all the same. You expect the entertainment to somehow invade your brain. And it could. But probably won’t. ‘Cause you’ll be too busy trying to pinpoint and form an opinion on it to actually be entertained.

  45. Alec Meer says:

    That would imply professional games critics like us RPS chaps could never enjoy any game. And that’s really not the case.

  46. Alistair says:

    Is there any connection to China Mieville? I saw the Vodyanoi, but haven’t noticed anthing else.

    I think there should be an album page of all the cards, on a background of flowers. I also think there should be one against the castle for witchers and buddies, and one against a salamander for the bad guys etc etc.

  47. Thiefsie says:

    I will gladly try out this game because of the somewhat heated discussion it is causing around the gaming world… I spend a lot of time reading and commenting about games, too much time in fact (not being in the field).

    It is a hobby of mine to stay in touch with the scene and I can admit that I will try games purely because of some sensationalist hype that interests me, and not because I necessarily want to enjoy the gameplay on it’s own. If you think I am going to be harder on the game because I am going into it to form an opinion on what it is like then I am at a loss as to what alternative I can have. I have wanted to play the Witcher for a good while now, but this discussion has piqued my interest even more hence the eagerness to try it… Not because I am lacking in RPG’s at the moment or I want to play it specifically beyond it being a video game…

    What is wrong with that?

    I was always going to get around to trying it sometime… Second guessing that because of my mindset I won’t enjoy it or will be harsh on it is a lack of foresight on your part (or the game’s?) not mine. Who knows it might be my game of 2007? Why are you defensive about that… my opinion of (or requirements to play a game) bear zero consequence to you.

    If you hadn’t noticed what you quoted from me was a simple statement saying I will stay out of the discussion until I have tried it for myself. Would you rather I ranted on about the sex cards or bugs or general review consistency purely from other’s opinions?

    If you handn’t noticed this whole article is an early insight to the game and isn’t representative of a review, and thus is published on this blog; not in widespread public domain.

    I, like a gaming journalist like to express an opinion, and it would be illogical to do that without playing it first-hand. If that is a bad reason to play a game, then I should play none at all…

  48. jamscones says:

    Quote Kieron:

    “The problem isn’t the sex. The problem is the cards.

    The former is plot and world and story and to be applauded. The latter is just benippled Pokemon and so silly it breaks the atmosphere.”

    Except there’s no such Pokemon mechanic in place – you’ve completely made that up. It took me about 10 minutes to figure out how to view a card again after you’ve seen it the first time. It’s not like the game is explicitly encouraging you to collect them (“You have ravished 4/50 slags”). Apart from showing you the card in lieu of an actual sex scene, the game never mentions the cards at all.

  49. Kieron Gillen says:

    Nocturnal: As Alec notes, the idea’s ludicrous. It would imply I’d never enjoy anything and the site’s full of evidence to the contrary.

    (And, to come clean, I had the idea of playing it for an hour and then writing it after I had actually played it for an hour)

    Storyteller: I didn’t know that. Having not read the books, all I can say is that the effect when translated to English didn’t work for me. Its an occasional anachronism rather than something that seems to be integrated into the language. Hating to mention Planescape again, but its integration of the cant would be a good example of how non-standard language can work.

    “your mother sucks dwarf cock”: To be honest, I’d be fine like this. I actually like my fantasy dirty. I’m completely the Witcher’s target audience, being wound up terribly by High Fantasy.

    Fluffy Bunny: The first hour of Oblivion was actually a pretty great tutorial. It introduced a mass of concepts to the player elegantly. I mean, yes, shitty to replay but in the context it worked because people needed that tutorial.

    Ryan: MAN!!!

    Leeks!: Yeah, I’m misusing what McKee meant, but I thought I could spin a wider point out of it – that story isn’t the same thing as writing, which is something people confuse.

  50. Kieron Gillen says:

    Jamescone: They have a set of cards. It’s a standard device to, once you have cards in a game, to make people try and get them all. The implication by their existence is “You want these”. They’re the prize you get when you shag random fantasy character. They’re a game mechanic. They’re enormously silly.

    Pokemon is primarily a funny line.