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Written by Starfox   
Friday, 07 January 2011 00:00
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The Witcher - Director's Cut Edition
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The world out there
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The Witcher

The world out there

One thing that can be said about The Witcher is that the game world is as close as possible to real life. In the course of the game, Geralt has many occasions to get drunk, to gamble, to fight bare handed and even to get laid.

The game world features a full day night/cycle which is of some importance as some people can only be found during daytime while most of Geralt targets (monsters) are especially active during nights. In some areas of the games, one may find some type of monsters exclusively at night while during days one may find other types of monsters less sensible to sunlight. The weather system is exhaustive too with sunny days, shiny moonlights, storm, fog... etc.
The fact that he doesn't remember anything from his previous life makes it easier for Geralt to get to know multiple ladies in that special way, each one being eager to give him a good time, generally in exchange for some gift (be it the obvious jewelry, a piece of garment or something much more unusual). Nothing special results from these affairs aside those attached to the two main female characters between which Geralt will have to make a choice impacting the rest of the story. Of course developers tried to make the whole thing interesting in the way of a mini-game for each lady, guessing the good approach or the good gift. Each successful intercourse will bring Geralt a new card to put in his journal, a memento picturing each of his conquests. The whole thing is an amusing distraction but sometimes feels more like a treasure hunt. What I mean is that a lot of gamers may feel like an obligation to hunt all these women down (more than 20) just for winning all the cards which seems like an achievement in itself. On the other hand, gamers may feel free to ignore the thing altogether as aside the cards it doesn't bring any kind of advantage to Geralt (on a pure RPG level).

Drinking is also a good occupation between combats and quests and is not even gratuitous. Most of the time beating someone in a drinking contest leads to gaining some useful information or trinket. Of course you can also be outdrunk by your “opponent” (it is based on your endurance and some character skills that you may learn may help you to remain on your feet). When such a thing happens you find yourself waking up on the street possibly with some of your gold missing because there is no such thing as an honest boozer. There's a moral in this I guess. The real drawback of drinking contests even when you win is drunkenness that makes Geralt unable to run or even to walk straight until the alcohol effects disappears. He still may fight however (at one point in the early part of the game he even has too) but from a gamer point of view the effect of being drunk is a screen visually blurry, distorted and always moving. Meditating (the equivalent of sleeping for Geralt) is an option to recover; there's also a handy potion to resolve the matter more quickly but one has to learn the formula first. Once you have the formula though it's always handy to have a couple doses ready because Geralt never knows when someone will drag him into a pub next; believe me that can happen even when you don't want it.

Only troubling point in The Witcher universe: why is it that Geralt may enter any open house and put his sticky hands anywhere even under the nose of the owners without having any of them reacting or shouting “Thief!”? No one knows and that is something prone to disturb some purists. Maybe they are really afraid of all the legends surrounding witchers and especially Geralt that some of them call The Butcher of Blaviken (which has only a meaning if you've read the books, let's say that he spread a few corpses and a lot of blood trying to peacefully resolve some matter in a the town of Blaviken; not his fault, really but the sad story followed him since then and although he lost his memory, other people didn't).

There's also a good dose of humor in this game though some of it requires the proper external references like the “Bronze Dan's Holy Grail theory” that an hermit explains to Geralt at some point.

The Witcher

Making money

There are several ways to make money in the game (and a few ways to loose some). Once you get to know how the game works though, you should never be broke. Beside quests, the most potent way to make money in the game is probably the one that newcomers will not think about because they're not used to that. Unlike with a lot of other RPGs, Geralt is not a hero in shining armor embarking on a paramount mission for the love of glory. No he's a pragmatic guy that has a job which is killing monsters for money. Most of these monsters allow him to gather special ingredients when killed. Most of these ingredients may be kept for use in potions but one quickly discover that some other ingredients are best being sold to relevant people (alchemists, witches or druids) for a wealthy pouch of orens (the currency of Temeria). One sweep in Vizima sewers may bring 75 up to 180 orens alone, just selling special ingredients gathered from drowners.

Fist-fighting is another way to make some money (not the quickest but still...) or to gain a trinket, provided that you're strong enough to win the fights which highly depends on your level and endurance (with there too some character skills that you may learn to help). You may go fist fight with any opponent who will accept your challenge. You can fist fight for money and there is also a quest that comes with this part; You have to beat one special opponent in each chapter of the game to become the greatest fist-fighter which in return and combined to another side quest allows you to put your hand on a very special item that can be quite useful – albeit not essential – in the last part of the adventure.

Poker Dice is another way to spend some time and also allows you to make money but the matter there is much more unnerving though. You may ignore it through the game because becoming a “legendary” poker player is just a rather unimportant side quest, but if you want to get involved seriously, you're in for a tough time because the dice are rigged. Obviously, blatantly, shamelessly rigged.  To put it briefly the game decides of the chances you have to win a game and that depends apparently on what stage of the story your at. For example, there are three opponents to beat in the first chapter. If you try them at the beginning of the chapter your chances of winning are vastly reduced but if you take them near the end of the chapter you chances greatly improve (and that is even if you never play a party with them before). Well it wouldn't be that bad if the cheating wasn't visually so obvious. In one game for example I had a pair of three and a pair of five and my opponent had just a pair of two. Next turn, my opponent drew another pair of five which wasn't enough to beat me but one of the dice got stuck in a mid position, hesitating between one and three. It could only be one of those then out of nowhere the dice made a full turn and ended on another five. That made him three five and of course I lose. This feeling to be constantly cheated before being finally allowed to win at some point clearly made of the poker game the less interesting part of The Witcher world to me. However this is the mini-game that may bring you the most money if you win (I emphasize the *if*)

The Witcher

This land is a frightening world

As a witcher, the main opponents of Geralt (at least by the number) are monsters, these coming in different varieties from lesser low rated threats like drowners to pretty challenging ones like the infamous Koschey. The most challenging monsters are the ones magically created (by a powerful mage). Some require tricks to be defeated and one of them – the above mentioned Koschey to be exact – just require brute force and the use of every witcher talent you have gathered along the way because this is a long and probably very painful fight (leaving you with very little health especially at the hardest difficulty setting). It fortunately happens near the end of the game so when reaching it Geralt should be pretty much in shape.

Aside these bosses (they are few) the remaining of the monsters can be defeated more or less easily depending on how players distribute their hard earn bronze, silver and gold talents among the diverse witcher skills. If you decide to skip some of the quests (and the XP going with them), which is always an option in a RPG, you might end up living through tons of hard times near the end. One word of advice, don't skip any occasion to increase Geralt's potential, even the hidden quests. Doing otherwise would be suicidal especially at the top most difficulty setting.

The other opponents that Geralt will have to fight are mere humans belonging to a secret organization known as Salamandra which is the one that stole the witchers' secrets from Kaer Morhen at the beginning of the game and represent the bulk of human opponents through the whole story and depending on how you make the story progress you might end up fighting elves and dwarfs (known as the Scoia'tel or squirrels) or an organization of racist knights (known as The Order Of The Flaming Rose) or both.

In any case don't worry, you won't be lacking opponents. And if you feel yourself deprived of fights at some point there are always some places where you can have some exercise most locations in the game replenishing their monsters stock once a day (generally at midnight).

The Witcher



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