The first time I played The Witcher, I didn't really 'get' it and wasn't really into it much. Fast forward a couple of years later and I played The Witcher 3 and was utterly blown away by how good it was. So, of course, I found I wanted to go back and play from the very beginning.
I have to say, as strange as it is, I'd recommend playing The Witcher 3 first. Playing through The Witcher 1 this time has been a much better experience, I'm attached to the characters, I understand the lore better and having that background from the third one has helped my overlook the problems that come from playing any dated game.
Make no mistake, the Witcher 1 is dated. The playing style is just something you rarely see these days, very similar to Dragon Age 1 in terms of controls and especially the battle system. If you like your RPG's old school, you're gonna love this. That being said, if you don't, there's so much good about The Witcher 1 that you'll find a lot to like, even if the combat systems and controls are a little old-fashioned for you.
The graphics hold up pretty well and if you turn settings to high it's still pretty nice, even by today's standards. The characters and plot are interesting and fun to play. Some characters (such as Triss Merigold, in particular) suffer from a personality that hasn't yet been fleshed out (and some terrible voice acting), as well as the sexism from that time, but most are truly testaments to the amazing series that CD Projekt Red would go on to improve. The voice actors you know and recognise from the later games are just as good here, bringing the characters to life.
Geralt (as in the source material) is undoubtedly a Gary Stu, but a fascinating one - who I personally adore. Having seen how everyone has grown in the third game definitely made me much more attached to these characters and if their flaws were slightly more obvious in the beginning of their journey, their strengths are equally visible.
The Witcher is a game about choices. Geralt straddles the line between the human and non-human (freak, other) worlds. His order protects humans from things that go bump in the night and in turn are treated with the disdain and bigotry reserved for those who are 'other' along with dwarves, elves and anything non-human. In The Witcher you will have the chance to decide to do a thankless job for ungrateful humans, or maybe turn slightly against them. It's a wonderful mechanic that will keep you coming back to play again and make different decisions.
When The Witcher 1 was first released there was some controversy about the 'baseball style nudie cards' you can collect of Geralt's female conquests. Playing it now, in an age where almost every big budget game involves sex or romance, that controversy is a bit laughable. It's undoubtedly sexist and in this first game, the female characters are not very well fleshed out, little more than prizes, but the 'cards' are actually quite cute and in my opinion artistic. It's easy to play it from the perspective of the character, even if you don't feel that way about women and look forward to future games that do better in this area.
The enhanced version has some difference from the original released game, as listed below:
- Cards collected from female conquests are no longer the 'censored' versions included in some countries such as North America.
- 200 new animations, additional NPC models and recolouring of generic NPC models as well as monsters, vastly expanded and corrected dialogues in translated versions.
-Improved stability, and load times reduced by roughly 80%.
- Option is to mix and match 8 different languages of voice and subtitles. For instance, players can now choose to play the game with Polish voices and English subtitles.
-The Witcher: Enhanced Edition also contains a completely new and enhanced version the D'jinni Adventure Editor and two new official fully-voiced adventures: "The Price of Neutrality" and "Side Effects".
It's definitely worth getting the Enhanced Version over the regular.
+ Graphics hold up well despite passage of time.
+ Characters are still very interesting.
+ Great voice acting on the majority of characters.
+ Intriguing story, influenced by the player's choices.
+ Deep lore, beastiary entries and 'glossary' will immerse you in the world of The Witcher.
+ Replayability factor is high.
- Female characters need a lot of work, very of it's time in terms of sexism.
- One or two characters have terrible voice actors (changed in later Witcher games)
- Combat system is not very immersive, Click and wait.
- Does not support controller function (must be played with keyboard and mouse)
Good for: Anyone wanting to see how The Witcher began. 'Old-School' RPG fans.
Could do better: Some voice acting. More character building.
Overall, a great game that's very much of it's time, but worth a replay and certainly not boring.
These reviews are the subjective opinions of ChickAdvisor members and not of ChickAdvisor Inc.