A Witcher 3 Diary, Day 6: Bloodied

Concluding – for now, at least – a short, primarily in-character chronicle of adventures in The Witcher 3. Please be aware that this entry contains spoilers for ‘The Bloody Baron’ line of sub-quests, though does not reference the wider story. Please also be aware that it covers subjects which some readers may find upsetting.

He’s a monster. Everything I know about him, everything he’s admitted to – I should strike him down where he stands. But all I want to do is put my arm around him and say how sorry I am.

This man, this mountain of fat and scar tissue and pride and contempt, calls himself The Bloody Baron – a nickname bestowed upon him in the wake of an accident involving red paint, but one which he embraces as it helps him retain an iron rule over the fearful peasantry here. Unbeknownst to him, it’s also name heavy with foreshadowing. Tragedy has lately visited his door, though he conceals it with bluster and evasion as he tries to conscript my help. His wife and daughter are missing, he knows not where. I’m not at all surprised by his request that I find them for him – I’ve seen ‘Missing’ posters all over the struggling villages. So many people eking out a pitiful existence of subsistence and fear, but one man’s need is forcibly made to trump them all. Of course he expects me to be here for him. Who else is there but him?

Brief investigation of his family’s rooms reveals assorted clues – there was a struggle, there was a hidden amulet, there were secrets. A local pellar – a ramshackle mystic man who lives out in the woods – may know more.

He does, but he won’t tell me until I help find his beloved goat, Princess, who has gone missing. The absurdity and humilation of this quest, as I roam through the trees ringing a tiny bell, does not belie the darkness ahead.

The mad Pellar hugs his damnfool goat, then tells me what he knows.

An abusive husband.
A pregnant wife.
An argument, violent.
A miscarriage.

I strongly suspected the Baron’s family had fled out of fear, that his talk of closeness and love was lies to mask his cruelty. The loss of a child I did not expect, and I dread discovering its exact circumstances. But before I can do that, matters take a turn for the yet worse.

The unborn child is not gone. Thrown into an unmarked grave, an attempt to put its woeful fate out of mind, it has been denied the respect and mourning it deserved. The dark forces of this land, the ones which warp so many minds and bodies here, have brought it back. I don’t yet know quite what this entails, but the very concept is monstrous. The name its new form is given is worse. “Botchling.”

Botchling.

A name that implies so many sad things, a name which might as well say “Unwanted, Unloved, Twisted. Aborted.” And I know I have to face it. And I know that first, I have to face the man who, unwittingly or not, turned his baby into this thing.

I hope I can kill him.

Not hours later, all I want to do is put my arm around him and say how sorry I am.

The Baron is a monster, and while he first tries to blame his violence on booze and war and, most damningly, his wife’s attitude towards him, he soon admits it.

And that he regrets it.

And that he had hoped a second child might mend he and Anna’s broken bond.

And that his grief at the loss of the child – a girl, another girl, like this writer’s child, this man who is not the stony-faced Witcher, this man who has tears then more tears in his eyes as a videogame cutscene depicting a fat, alcholoic wife-beater mourning a miscarriage he caused plays out, this man who cannot help but imagine the loss, grief, horror of his daughter, his wonderful daughter, his Connie, having never become more than a tiny thing, defenceless, on bloodied sheets, dead – is boundless.

He hangs his head.

Monster.

All I want to do is put my arm around him and say how sorry I am.

I don’t. Geralt of Rivia, the mutant whose emotions have been numbed by weird chemicals, does not do that. But he can choose not to show cruelty too. So I do not.

But I do have to tell him about the Botchling.

And we do have to do something about it.

His eyes widen in horror, but there’s wonder too. His lost child, the offspring slaughtered by his savage attack upon his own wife, is alive. Well, not alive, but… Well, we don’t know yet. Whatever form it now takes, the Baron now must meet what should have been, look his terrible crime in the eyes, acknowledge what was lost and what he did.

Or we could just kill it. The Pellar told us that it would turn deadly in time, a wretched killer, vengeance incarnate.

I don’t give my reasons – this writer’s child – but I refuse this option. Others might not. They might prefer the easier road, they might thrill to the moral gruesomeness of the act, but I must refuse it.

So, at nightfall we go to meet the Botchling, which lurks near the unmarked grave it recently clawed its way out of. It is hideous and horrifying, but it is desperately sad: the tiny frame, the stubby limbs, the outsize eyes, the transluscent skin, the hanging tubes of a not-quite-cooked oven-bun. She’s terrible to behold, but I can see traces of the beautiful thing she should have been.

I want to look away from its split and gnashing face, and the Baron does too, but we must witness it, see the waiting humanity within. He has to hold and cradle the wriggling thing, part demon and part innocent, and grimly carry it – her – back to his keep, to the doorstep where it – she – will be buried anew, while I slay wraiths attracted to whatever foul magic seeps from it – from her. The Baron and his daughter are face-to-face throughout. He cannot look away from his sin.

This penitent pilgrimage done, the Botchling must be interred respectfully at last, and for that to happen she must first be named. She must be given the identity she was denied.

Forgive me, you who came but I did not embrace.

I name thee Dea and embrace thee as my daughter.

Dea, then. It is a lovely name. It would have been a lovely name.

The thing, the unspeakable thing, finally stops writhing, its madness stilled as she hears her withheld name and looks her father, her killer, right in the eyes. There is love. Maybe there is love.

The Bloody Baron, that name so completely and so terribly deserved, buries the monster, buries the daughter he did not know, and weeps into the rain.

Monster. All I want to do is put my arm around him and say how sorry I am.

Geralt of Rivia’s hard, feline eyes soften at last, real sadness bubbling to the surface of a world-weary road warrior who is supposed to (wants to?) feel nothing. And this writer weeps too.

Thank you, Dea. Go in peace.

72 Comments

  1. BeaconDev says:

    Amazing questline. It doesn’t even end there, though. It can get a lot worse for the Baron.

    • woodsey says:

      The epilogue to this storyline is, I think, even more heart-rending, particularly as it reflects on Geralt and his role in the world.

      • blastaz says:

        I got what I’m sure is the “happy” ending with real catharsis and reconciliation. Frankly I’d gladly sacrifice those kids for that!

        It was a pretty striking quest line.

    • w0bbl3r says:

      Seriously?
      Nobody laughed at this?
      When that silly little monster-baby thing came crawling out I laughed until my stomach hurt.
      Yes, the story is nice, and well written, well voice acted, and told brilliantly in the dialogue scenes.
      But that monster-baby blob thing is just so funny to look at, I couldn’t help but laugh.
      And then….. well
      I haven’t laughed so hard at a videogame in a long time. And I just got the truck full of meds for Trevors mum in GTA5 at that.
      You do the right thing, and turn this funny monster-baby into……. this is comedy gold….. you turn it into…… who?
      Casper the friendly ghost.
      Wow. What a plot twist. Hilarious.
      How do they make the funniest monster ever funnier than you thought it could possibly be?
      Turn it into a cartoon character. A crap cartoon character. From 60-odd years ago. That was remade into a movie in the 90’s with that girl from the addams family.
      I laughed and laughed and laughed and laughed.
      After, of course, being completely thrown by the fact that, during this so serious, dark and twisted world, one of my main tasks to get to this point was….. to rescue a frickin’ GOAT. A goat named Princess. FFS, are we serious here?
      Anyone who considers this game anything resembling serious after this must be insane.

      • egg-zoo-bear-ant will e 91 says:

        Sometimes you gotta laugh or else you’ll cry. A powerful reaction either way, and I’d argue that wouldn’t have come about if the game didn’t have a lot of substance going on, or wasn’t really well-crafted. I don’t believe comedy and seriousness are at odds! And I think we could laugh at anything given the right perspective. See this song played at my grandad’s funeral, as evidence. link to youtube.com There could have been nothing more respectful. Sometimes seriousness is weaponized by the pompous. But is your reaction just um, shallow or flippant? I don’t think monster-babies are inherently hilarious. Maybe you gotta watch Alfie with Michael Caine, and face the baby down, in your mind, eye to unloved eye, deformity to deformity. Best wishes!

  2. rebb says:

    Easily one of the most emotional quest-lines i ever witnessed in a game.

    • w0bbl3r says:

      Really? You didn’t laugh at the monster-baby?
      Or even harder when it turns into Casper the friendly ghost?
      I lol’d. I lol’d a LOT.

      • Fredrik Sellevold says:

        No, I didn’t laugh. I didn’t weep either, but the sight of the sad creature did stir my to pity.
        Getting her to a a final resting place, harrassed by hungry wraiths every step of the way wasn’t easy, but I did it gladly.

      • Tuco says:

        What’s the point in repeating the same dumb question to anyone, exactly?
        No, no one else laughed to the tears except you apparently. Time to accept it and move on, maybe.

        because let’s face it, your commentary isn’t as clever as you probably hoped it sounded.

  3. jezcentral says:

    Fatherhood has given me an extra range of emotion I would never have guessed at.

  4. DuncanIdah0 says:

    After 30 years of gaming I think this quest was the first time I shed tears playing a video game, it was bloody awesome (pun intended). Not only the story is great but the actors and facial animations are amazing, it really really feels authentic.

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    RaveTurned says:

    “If only you could talk to the monsters. Now that would be something.”

    • Premium User Badge

      phuzz says:

      Oh bloody hell yes! Alec, you need to mention this to KG (late of this parish).

  6. chesh says:

    I just read a fantastic companion to this piece on Paste, about the humanity of the game: link to pastemagazine.com

    That really was an incredibly well done quest. Absolutely heartbreaking. Even moreso when considered with the companion quest, that shows what his wife was willing to do to get away from him, and what it cost her. I’ve never felt so unsettled by a game the way I was encountering everything to do with the witches.

  7. Capt. Bumchum McMerryweather says:

    Little stories like this are, to me, what really cements this game into one of the greatest stories ever told in the medium. Never before have I found myself both liking and sympathizing a character like the baron (who on balance is an enormous prick).

    There are so many points like this in the game, where you can choose to eschew your sympathies in favour of doing the ‘right thing’, but both sides are so well written and represented that each time I find myself in a huge dilemma.

  8. woodsey says:

    I imagine that whoever reviewed The Witcher 3 for Polygon is dealing with some egg on his face given the reception to this quest-line. They couldn’t get to grips with why you’d even be allowed to ask to hear the baron’s justifications for his behaviour.

    • Solidstate89 says:

      Yeah, well…that’s Polygon for ya.

    • Eight Rooks says:

      I do not share in the opinion of certain parts of the internet over That Review. I don’t think it was especially well written but I think it said a great many perfectly intelligent and thoughtful things about the game and raised a bunch of questions that deserve to be answered.

      But yeah, certainly over the Bloody Baron questline, that writer was wrong, wrong, wrong. No argument there. I rolled my eyes when I first encountered it and assumed it would be throwaway nonsense keeping me from the story proper. I was wrong too. In terms of intelligent and understated writing about actual mature subjects it has been the high point of my fifty hours with the game thus far.

      • w0bbl3r says:

        The writing for this questline, especially for the script/dialogue, was excellent.
        It was amazingly acted, and the scenes where you are talking to the Baron are brilliantly shown.
        But that monster-baby. Just comical. And then becoming Casper the friendly ghost afterwards. Just properly downright hilarious in every way.
        Even how it IS the friendly, helpful ghost. Comedy genius.

    • Random Integer says:

      I haven’t read the Polygon article but I can understand why someone might feel like the game was making excuses for domestic abuse. I don’t think thats what the game was doing, explaining is not the same as excusing, made clear by the fact that Geralt’s reactions all amount to basically ‘Yeah but you’re still a shit’. The explanation is to demonstrate that the Baron is a human being not a monster or a caricature villain. In many ways he’s a perfectly likeable human being (see his treatment of Ciri and Greta) and one of the hardest things for us to accept, especially around a touchy subject like domestic abuse, is that perfectly likeable human beings are capable of routinely doing terrible, abhorrent things. I think the game dealt with it quite well all in all, although in other areas I think it goes a bit overboard with its ‘shades of grey, the real monster is man’ schtick.

    • jonahcutter says:

      Yeah, there’s been several instances of people having very dogmatic responses to this game. It’s been interesting watching how effectively they’ve gotten dismantled by others aware of the complexities. There’s been a healthy response by people not willing to let some very shallow, narrow viewpoints define the game for the larger public consciousness.

      This quest line is the perfect example of how ineffective dogma is at analyzing art.

      • GepardenK says:

        I think Witcher 3 handeled domestic abuse very well in the Bloody Baron questline. Much better than most pieces of media trying to tackle the subject. People who tries to look moraly superior by demonising abusers is actually making the problem worse. Because abusers are often likable and easy to sympatishe with if you know them. This is what makes domestic abuse so dangerous as it makes it very hard for the victim to leave the abuser. I’t is very important that people are able to acknowledge this rather than shove it under the rug, it’s the key to keep victims safe and get the abuser help before it is too late

    • Unclepauly says:

      It’s simply because people like to dehumanize. They don’t want to deal with complex issues so they just want to be done with it. Oh, he hit his wife? Forever womanizer. There’s a certain evil involved with being able to just toss people in the trash without a second thought. I’m of the mind that we all can be good people but some just don’t want to be and never will be. The baron? He want to be.

  9. Flea says:

    These days quests in games don’t usually make me remember them, but I specifically remember a moment while playing this quest when I said to myself: “This is so well done, such an emotional roller coaster, something that you usually find in good movies. Or in life.”

    I’m still playing Witcher 3, taking my time and enjoying it, I don’t want to run through it just so I can see the end. But somehow I feel that this quest was the highlight and no other quest in the game will quite reach the heights of this one.

    • Zenicetus says:

      I’m getting that feeling too, that there can’t be another quest line to match this one. But I’m still only partway through the game. Anyway, this was something special, along with the following events with Anna.

      The best thing was the way it rewarded playing Geralt as himself — or what I know of him from the games. I haven’t read the books, but I know he’s supposed to not like getting too involved or moralistic when dealing with people that aren’t his friends, or what passes for his family. Allowing people to find their own resolution, not just the Baron but the daughter too, really pays off in this quest.

    • woodsey says:

      It’s certainly a highlight, but there are other parts that are truly moving. They’re not accomplished in the same way, and nothing else accomplished in that way is as accomplished, but I wouldn’t worry about a lack of stand out moments. Whichever way you cut it, it’s a very moving game.

  10. OmNomNom says:

    Mmm, Botchling stew.

  11. jacobvandy says:

    To summarize: In this game, always go for the option that is not “just kill it.”

    • shaydeeadi says:

      Not always but, indeed most of the time it at least makes it much more interesting.

    • hungrycookpot says:

      Not at all. There are lots of parts of the game where you can choose to leave a survivor, and it often comes back and bites you in the ass if you don’t tie up your loose ends.

      • jacobvandy says:

        That’s my point, it creates better stories. It is objectively more interesting to leave loose ends rather than play it safe.

        • GepardenK says:

          Not killing some monsters right away makes you miss out on some interesting stories as characters, sometimes quite important ones, die.

    • vitaminTcomplex says:

      Sure wish I had killed Black Beauty instead of letting her live…

      • AnonymouseDude says:

        There are negative consequences if you do and negative consequences if you don’t. The choice is who lives, but some will die no matter which path you take. Welcome to the world of the Witcher games.

        • Cinek says:

          [SPOILER] Killing her means more people live to the next day. Someone will die, but killing here is a lesser evil of two (I re-played this quest 4 times and seen pretty much everything – killing her really is a better option)

          • AnonymouseDude says:

            Standard spoiler alert:

            I managed to do the quests in the right order, where I hit the Black Beauty one first and finished it before finding the crones. End result: Kids with crones freed, Baron and Anna live, but whole village dies (to include women and apparently children). From a standpoint of characters I interacted with, it was the better ending. From a standpoint of greater losses, likely not so much. I just liked the kids in the crone settlement and wanted the baron to have a chance at redemption.

          • Cinek says:

            [SPOILER] I did it in a way where only the Tree Spirit dies and children do. It’s… 6 (? never remember all these kids) lives sacrificed to save everyone else. Ok, some foot soldiers die too, but at least I tried to keep them alive through the entire quest. ;). I call that a win-win solution ;)

          • AnonymouseDude says:

            Spoilers, sort of:

            You can keep the orphans and the Bloody Baron quest folks alive if you do the evil tree/Black Beauty quest (release the spirit) before discovering the crones location and engaging with Gran and the kids. Sadly, the townsfolk still are casualties of Black Beauty.

    • Cinek says:

      “always go for the option that is not “just kill it.” – very, very bad idea. In numerous circumstances it will end up with dozens of other people killed or entire villages destroyed.

  12. Zenicetus says:

    Another interesting thing about this quest is the fistfight interlude, right before the emotional conversation where you decide what to do about the botchling.

    Whoever wrote the quest knows that they’re setting up this guy as a monster, and that your immediate impulse is to punish him. So you get to beat him up, as an emotional release. You then have permission to take a softer approach in the following conversation.

    It’s actually a cliche in books and films; the hero forcing a bad-but-redeemable guy to face reality by beating him up. But it still works here.

  13. Jimbo says:

    I found the Botchling part to almost be the comic relief section of this questline – it was quite sweet. Some small measure of redemption for my Baron before he decided to call it a day.

  14. Orija says:

    Spoilers ahead:

    You find out later that it wasn’t a miscarriage but an abortion.

    • Monggerel says:

      Indeed, and the revelation only serves to damn the Baron even further. He ruins everyone around him. Including himself. There are several conclusions to the entire (very long) quest line, none of them particularly happy, though some less bloody than others. About the only real positive is that Tamara gets to have a life on her own (bitter, violent, but at least somewhat hopeful) terms

      • hungrycookpot says:

        I didn’t see the Baron in the terrible light he’s being cast in. He was a man forced into war, and while serving his country the love of his life chose to cheat on him with another man. He lost it and killed the man, and damned himself to a lifetime of hatred from the wife he still loves.

        I don’t know many people who have gone through so much and come out spotless on the other end.

      • dsch says:

        Not finished the game yet, but doesn’t she throw her lot in with the religious fundamentalists burning witches everywhere?

        • Monggerel says:

          She does, but her direct superior is a character you get to meet and interact with, and he’s level-headed, pragmatic, can be reaoned with, competent, and all-around very similar to Geralt himself. Even the attitude isn’t far.
          For an ostensible “witch hunter”, he deceives his superiors and preserves forbidden arcane knowledge to make sure he stays competent at his actual job of protecting people. His first reaction to seeing a person cursed to turn into a monster is to ask Geralt if they can fix the situation – they don’t even consider just murdering them, in stark contrast with much of their order. The game goes to some lengths to show the guy (and Tamara) in a positive light, clearly fighting against the tide of mindless brutality endemic to the system they are part of.

          That said, this is the Witcher, so take that with a spoonful of salt. The Baron himself is not too difficut to empathise with, even if he is utterly beyond forgiveness. It’s that kinda game. Not much certain ground to find your footing.

          • WhatAShamefulDisplay says:

            How is he beyond forgiveness? His arc was clearly intended to be a redemptive one, choose not to forgive him if you like but I think it’s a bit much to suggest that he’s some kind of inhuman monster. He had a very difficult life, was put in a difficult situation by the war and by his wife, and ultimately made some bad decisions (namely: drinking and domestic abuse). I don’t think any of this constitutes actions which are “beyond forgiveness”, especially since we can see that when he is sober he is desperate to put things right, cares for Ciri and the little girl, stops his soldiers from going on the rampage they ultimately DO go on, and so forth.

          • Jimbo says:

            He confesses to murdering her lover, may have massacred a group of POWs (“not so many people know that story”) and his men were openly bragging about raping someone the first time I met them.

  15. Premium User Badge

    MercurialAlchemist says:

    The Bloody Baron is also a historical character (from the Russian civil war between Reds and Whites): link to en.wikipedia.org

  16. Bing_oh says:

    That I could find empathy for not just a character in a video game but one whose past deeds are despicable and evil in a most personal, human way speaks volumes for the writing of this particular quest line.

    I wanted to beat him for what he’d done. I though that he didn’t particularly deserve to have his family back, but did deserve the misery and suffering that he had caused himself by his actions. I was disgusted that he (in such a human way) minimized what he’d done and tried to divert blame from himself onto others. And, yet, I felt sorry for him. I felt like he was actually remorseful and honestly wanted a second chance to make up for his past sins. And, in the end…and almost despite myself…I willingly helped him as much as I could.

    It takes quality literature to evoke emotions this strong. It’s plot lines like this that prove that video games are much more than the base entertainment that the critics think they are.

  17. Synesthesia says:

    Oof, yeah. this one hit me really hard too. Wasn’t expecting to tear up. The ritual is heart breaking.

  18. Brosecutor says:

    Dat game.

  19. AnonymouseDude says:

    Some slight spoilers:

    This was indeed a powerful quest, but it won’t be the only one. I managed to pull off (after going back and changing a key decision and replaying hours of the game) the mostly “best” ending of the full Bloody Baron quest line. That said, there is no really good endings. Innocents will die no matter what you do, based upon game-changing decisions you didn’t know at the time you were making. Take one path through the woods vs. another and who lives and dies changes based upon which quest you finished before the other.

    It had an emotional payoff for me. Themes of sin and guilt and redemption and forgiveness resonate all through this game. The Bloody Baron is proving to be just one of many wonderfully written, stunningly illustrated, and amazingly voiced three-dimensional characters in this game. I am just a level 12, but if the rest of the game measures up to what I have experienced so far, it will be the best RPG I have ever played.

  20. italianprick says:

    I’m in tears because you wil stop this amazing diary. Please keep it going!

  21. Rythe says:

    -Super Spoiler Warning-

    But I did want to clarify a few aspects of the Bloody Baron’s further storyline that have only been hinted at in the comments here, and have only been half explored in the article.

    Going back to the point of the Bloody Baron’s early background story, it’s revealed that the wife had left him a hate note after taking their daughter and running off into the arms of another man. The baron had only intended to take her and his daughter back, but something dark snapped in him after seeing the two together. So the Baron kills the man, and then the wife goes berserk and attacks the Baron with the intent to kill. In defending himself, he strikes her the first time.

    Can’t say how much domestic abuse happened after as that wasn’t clear, but what was made clear is that the Baron tried to make amends many times and the wife was having non of it. She goaded him relentlessly to hit her and make things worse is the gist of it, and he was a total drunk from his years at war.

    The reason for the botchling is also explained later in that the wife sold her service to some wicked witch types if they would remove the unwanted child for her womb (because she hated the Baron that much). The witches sapped her body’s strength to force a miscarriage. It wasn’t the domestic abuse that lost the child.

    In the end, the wife and the Baron ‘deserved each other’, as one of the possible Witcher responses put it, but the bigger monster is the wife in my book. He may have been a belligerent, often absent drunk to start with, but every critical turn in their misery after that has the wife at the heart of it. And it was her desire to lose their second child, whereas the Baron loved the girl enough to go through with the botchling stuff outlined above. That shows their hearts, even in the midst of the rubble of their lives.

    • Jimbo says:

      I completely disagree. Even only hearing his side of the story, he is still by far the biggest villain of the piece. Lots of people have affairs, but the husband murdering the other guy is pretty widely accepted as being worse and an unacceptable reaction. After that she was little more than a captive suffering years of violent abuse – no wonder she didn’t want to bring another child into that life.

      The daughter is the only relatively neutral party we talk to, and it’s clear where she lays the blame. She detests the Baron and wants nothing to do with him. The guy who tells the story about how the Baron got his name also implies that he’s a war criminal.

      My Baron ended up swinging and I didn’t regret anything, except not being able to save Gran. His end felt justified to me, and his small acts of redemption and contrition only earned him the right to do it himself. I wouldn’t have considered any scenario which put the wife or daughter back under his control.

      • Rumpelstilskin says:

        And I in turn completely agree with Rythe. Killing his wife’s lover was obviously not the most reasonable thing to do, but it was understandable, especially in the cruel and war-torn world of TW. It’s also understandable that constant provocations by Anna after that had taken their toll.

  22. DThor says:

    Incredibly moving side quest, I like how you pointed out that absurd, relatively gentle bit with the goat near the start, the gentle tinkling of the bell, the mildly annoyed Geralt, who really has more important things to do, and how dark that road ends up. As pointed out elsewhere, that’s not even the end – more extreme darkness in the followup. Love this game.

    • GepardenK says:

      Yeah I loved that part. In most games “getting the goat” would feel like an annoying and unnecessary distraction. But in W3 I almost fell in love with the litte bastard during our brief time togheter. Jogging thorugh the woods and randomly ringing the bell was hilarious, talk about Geralds new low

      • Coming Second says:

        Almost lost the goat because I creased up so hard when Geralt wailed “Bear! Run you stupid piece of shit!”

    • thebigJ_A says:

      Gentle?!?

      That goat’s being repeatedly raped by the pellar, and you didn’t save it!

  23. Oasx says:

    I am about 25 hours into the game and i mostly find the main quest to be very frustrating, tons of tedious subquests for very little story reward, but the Bloody Baron story was really good.

  24. Scylo says:

    As someone that grew up with an abusive step-dad I basically found it impossible to sympathise with the Baron. I’ve heard the exact same sob stories and apologies over and over by someone that still continued to be an abusive, violent asshole everyday. The Baron’s apologies are more about trying to make him feel better about himself than actually take responsibility for what he did.

    • AnonymouseDude says:

      Spoilers on a possible ending:

      However, he does quit drinking and attempts to reconcile. In one version, he is willing to step away from power in the hopes of healing Anna’s ravaged mind. Sometimes people become slightly better versions of themselves. Rare, but it happens.

  25. Drakedude says:

    Despicable, monster and so on get’s tiring after a while. I’m not a new father, but nevertheless.

    • Drakedude says:

      I recognize you make the opposite point, but still it undercuts it.

  26. Doc Revelator says:

    An astute and moving commentary, Alec, thank you.

    • AnonymouseDude says:

      Usual spoiler warnings:

      Someday we may look back on the Witcher 3 as a landmark game where the media of video games crossed the line into akin to movies, books, or other “real” forms of art. It is the most coherent, immersive, and mature game I have ever played. It tells a story and tells it well. Some of it looks like a film. The introduction of the character Priscilla could be taken straight from a movie. In another shot Triss and Geralt are talking to each other about a relationship that has cooled from being lovers to trying to be just friends. Yennifer is the reason. This scene with two game characters is as well shot and acted as anything I have seen in a movie lately. It shows emotional depth. It is sad, between two people who still do love each other, but Yennifer is alive and back and she is Geralt’s love.

      Note a scene of a chief’s funeral and the story communicated wordlessly between the two wives and the priest. Note how the political power struggle stage is set and key characters introduced — then the shock when one realized is all about which wife (old or new) will join the chief on the funeral pyre. You learn a lot about the widowed queen in that moment.

      I also have to note that some of the game is very funny, often in a gallows humor way. The story of the final message written in the sky by a mage being executed is laugh out loud funny.

      I guess what is striking me about Witcher 3 is that it seems less a game, per se, and more like really being in a gritty fantasy story. It isn’t nearly as “gamish” as other games. I am in this world of Geralt of Rivia. I am part of it. The things I do in this world all seem logical from the standpoint of this world an my role in it.