I couldn’t let 2015 get too far away before I reviewed this. Hands down not only my favorite game of 2015 but most likely I’d say one of the best games I’ve ever played.
For those who don’t know the Witcher 3 is the third installment (clearly) in the Witcher video game series that’s originally based on a Polish fantasy book series of the same name. I haven’t read the books but I did make sure to play 1-2 which are also excellent games even though at this point 1 feels a bit dated.
One of the few problems is that being the third installment, the Witcher 3 suffers from low accessibility for new players story wise. There are so many characters, references, and plot threads that connect from the previous games that I believe anyone new to the series and trying to join at this point would be somewhat lost. I was lost even at times as there are also numerous characters only referenced in the books that appear here but that usually isn’t an issue.
The positive thing about this is that like with the Mass Effect and Dragon Age games you can actually import your save game from 1 to 2 and all the way to 3 to have all your important choices (and in the case from 1 to 2 your items, unfortunately not in 3) imported here. As I’d highly recommend playing through 1 and 2 despite the first one having a slow start (took me a few hours of it to be really invested), this ends up making the Witcher 3 all the more exciting as it feels like the culmination of an epic story you’ve been on all this time.
Story wise the game is fantastic and has rich and detailed characters which stay in your head for hours after they’re gone. Each choice and plot thread in the Witcher 3 is not a simple “good” vs mustache twirling “bad” or some contrived “paragon or renegade” feel. Instead I felt like I was confronted with actual problems and issues that I could relate to. Each with answers that weren’t very black and white, in fact most of the time I had no idea if my choices were good or bad at all. Half the time what I thought was the “good” choice, would cause other unexpected consequences I wouldn’t have been able to guess. This all lent to my immersion and allowed me connect with the world and characters in a way that many other games with moral choice systems lack.
In terms of the world itself it’s immense, detailed, and beautiful. A vast fantasy landscape that’s modeled after the Polish country side the world feels lived in with small attention to detail around every corner. Of course open world games aren’t anything new but here each quest be it main quest or small side quest that in any other game would be a randomly generated one ends up instead feeling detailed and handcrafted. That’s because they all ARE detailed and handcrafted. According to the team they actually hand made each one deciding to spend the time instead of making a random quest generation system like many other open world games. This one fact alone was able to draw me into the world more than anything else about the Witcher 3, making it so that I would spend hours simply exploring and going on quests as I found them that were interesting and exciting.
The game play is also near perfect. With the combat not too hard (which will be a problem for some), but with higher difficulty it can be just hard enough I believe to be rewarding and entertaining. The leveling up system I found frustrating at times as I never was able to use all of the things I unlocked and sometimes it made me feel that leveling up gave me next to nothing. I would have preferred something that felt a bit more rewarding and allowed more interesting customization, but even still as it is it was solid. Likewise the crafting system is good but sometimes felt a bit much and clunky having to wade through too many monster items to find just the right one. But this is a small complaint in the grand scheme of things as it never got in the way too much and I liked having the options compared to the lack of them in this case.
Some of the mechanics also took some time to adjust to and understand but once you pass the learning curve (which isn’t that bad actually) it’s smooth sailing.
Overall the Witcher 3 stuck with me. With 3 main endings and many many sub endings depending on the choices you make throughout the game. There’s no choice for your favorite color Mass Effect 3 style here, instead it’s based upon certain things and choices you make.
I can’t say enough how much I loved this game. Quite possibly this is one of the best that I’ve ever played and I look forward to more of it’s expansions in the future. Everyone who loves RPGs should play it.