The Witcher 3 was released back in 2015 on Steam, PS4, and Xbox One. We’ve finally managed to sink our brains into it all recently. Anyone who reads this blog will know we usually cover indie games, but Polish developer CD Projekt Red’s masterpiece is an $81 million budget AAA behemoth. There were big expectations before its release… and the game still delivers a magnificent experience. Which is nice.
The Witcher 3
Right, we need about 1,000 words to properly explain the outlandish plot. Instead, we’ll neatly summarise the action role-playing game as follows – you star as Geralt, a witcher, who has, like, dead good transmundane abilities. Then there’s this girl called Ciri whom he’s training up to achieve, like, excellence. But she’s kidnapped and stuff. Thusly, into this massive fantasy world you head to restore order.
It’s fairly standard fantasy stuff – it was, in fact, adapted from author Andrzej Sapkowski’s fantasy works. And in the true fashion of many modern open world games, CD Projekt Red threw themselves in there to make this an immersive, movie-like experience. For us, this can fall horrendously flat in so many AAA titles. But Witcher 3 circumvents genre tropes to deliver a rather profound video game – yes, even the dialogue is good!
Open world games were changed forever in 2017 when Nintendo’s Zelda: Breath of the Wild landed. This late review for The Witcher 3 makes for an interesting comparison with the latter – how does the 2015 romp hold up after the genre changing Switch effort?
For Witcher 3, some of the controls are a bit clunky in comparison. Plus having to sit through endless dialogue isn’t always enthralling. And you can’t investigate and climb everything, which is what remains so liberating for the game-changing Breath of the Wild.
But the open world of Witcher 3 is still magnificently realised and was an iconic step forward for the games industry – this is still more than apparent.
Asides from the standard quests you need to complete, stuff you have to kill, frying pan you need to retrieve (a genuine quest early on), the artistic integrity of the game makes it special – namely, a beautiful and atmospheric open world and a soundtrack that creates such an emotional engagement you can’t help but find yourself rather swept away by it all.
But it’s really the little things that make the adventure feel so real and captivating. The world represents a type of Medieval reconsideration, with villages full of peasants farming the lands. You travel on horseback, taking in spectacular sunsets, whilst the wind lashes at lush forests and the grassy fields around you.
Trust us to find the relaxing moments in a hyper-violent title the best, but, hey, that’s us for you. We have an introspective approach to life. As we’ve triggered off this Zelda/Witcher comparison thing, you can find below our favourite bit from Nintendo’s game – the dual peak mountain range. We could happily spend all day hanging around there (note the cow “moo” for added realism).
The Witcher 3 is no different. We’ve spent most of the game so far trotting about enjoying sunsets and listening to the wind rustling everything within earshot. Such a realisation of a world makes your missions seem all the more realistic, which is why you can save an old lady’s frying pan without feeling like you’re wasting your time.
It’s vast, too, which is a problem for older gamers. How can you fit this thing into your life? Well, it’s totally worth it – dedicate six months to it for some incredible rewards. But despite all the mission clearing and levelling up, we still think the ambience the game creates is what makes it special. As above – taking a relaxed canter through the beautiful city of Novigrad on horseback.
Open worlds, when done correctly, excel at drawing you into a perfectly realised fake reality. Breath of the Wild manages it to a staggering degree, but The Witcher 3 had already set the bar stunningly high. There’s an incredible attention to detail here. Plus a challenge that is a monumental undertaking. If you want to throw yourself into an epic like few others, all we can say is you’ll totally dig this.