I never would have dreamt that the compelling but much-joked-about card game in The Witcher 3 would become a single-player RPG, but Thronebreaker: The Witcher Tales is a reminder that anything is possible when you believe in the heart of the cards. Released today and exclusive to GOG, Thronebreaker is a major spinoff set in the world of The Witcher, using the supposedly-dwarven card game to represent its high-stakes, army-scale battles and even boss battles against massive beasties. Below, the launch trailer.
Originally planned as a single-player mode for CD Projekt Red's ailing competitive card-battler Gwent, Thronebreaker somehow grew into a completely separate game with its own aesthetic. Brendy reviewed it last week, and even though he had yet to finish it after twenty hours of card-slinging, he did seem to enjoy it, even if its non-card systems and writing seemed a little patchy. Even if its moral choices and branching story-lines aren't quite as tight as those in a mainline Witcher game, the fact that there are choices like that in a card game is enticing.
I'm just hoping the release of Thronebreaker (assuming it's a commercial success) will spur other studios to do similarly ambitious solo versions of card games. As nice as Magic: The Gathering Arena seems, I'd much rather be playing a modern take on Microprose's ancient RPG spinoff. Card-battling engines are fun, and a scripted enemy deck can be an expressive, interesting thing to fight against. As for me, I'm just hoping that we get an Android: Netrunner RPG, although my hopes have dwindled somewhat now that Fantasy Flight have retired the game. Fingers crossed.