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    Kool-aid!'s The Witcher (PC)

    [February 9, 2008 03:05:08 AM]
    I got to dive a lot deeper into the game this time around. The combat continues to disappoint me. It didn’t quite become a problem until I started spending a lot of time fighting. The combat seemed so repetitive. It was like I was fighting the same battle no matter what kind of enemy I was fighting. However, this game is much more then just combat, so I didn’t let the issue ruin my experience. What the game does have is a very detailed potion system. Potions are very important in The Witcher and they play a greater role then in an average RPG. The player chooses which potions to carry on hand, which are instantly ready for use. They could choose health restoring potions, potions that make Geralt stronger, faster or smarter, or potions which give bonuses against certain enemies. But the game doesn’t present the potions as simple buffs. To explain, I’ll have to dive into the lore of the game.

    As I said before, this game contains a very detailed fantasy world which is cataloged in the player’s journal. But the lore is not just background story; the lore is actually a part of the gameplay. For example, each potion is made of different ingredients, which have different properties and components. To make a potion, first I had to buy a book on plants and another on monsters in the area. Each would tell me about the monsters and also tell me which parts of their bodies are useful. For example, a ghoul has poison glands in their neck and teeth, so you can loot those items. You can then use them as components to make a poison potion. But the poison is a little more then that. To make the potion, you need a base extracted by a root found in the wild. To do this, I need the herb book. This may seem tedious, but it was actually a lot of fun. It felt a lot more immersive, and that’s what I find fun. The game could just say this is a potion of +10 to attack rating. But instead they say it is an eagle eye potion with an alcohol base which drugs the user into a type of trance which seems to slow down time and heighten reactions. It’s the little details that make the game for me, and the Witcher has those.

    The first issue I’ll address is the combat. I’m a big fan of action RPGs and I also like to play melee based classes. The problem I have is that melee combat usually just consists of clicking on enemies to attack them with no further interaction. When I first heard of the rhythm based combat of The Witcher, I was excited because it seemed like I would get a lot more input into what used to be dull combat. However, I still found the combat dull, even though I seemingly had a greater role. But then I realized why. The combo system works by clicking again once you finish your previous strike. So the rhythm of combat is the same series of combos every time. It’s always the same rhythm! It doesn’t matter what you are fighting, it’s the same battle every time. Ideally, I would want the rhythm to be different which every combo and every different monster. That would feel more like the chaos of a battle and would take more skill. The rhythm feature of this game got me to thinking about Guitar Hero. What if every song in Guitar Hero sounded different, but the button inputs where the same every time, not matter what the song? Now that would be a dull music game. That’s how I feel about The Witcher’s combat.

    But this game is not all bad. I spoke highly of the game lore and world before and I will do so again. This game is actually based on a Polish fantasy novel, so I found it interesting that is this appendix like journal is in the game. A video game doesn’t always feature so much written word that needs to be sorted through. It almost felt to me as if the journal was like the novel itself, describing the game world around me in vivid detail. But once I closed the journal screen, the world from the text came to life before my eyes. The relationship was not too profound, but it got me thinking about narrative and games, which we talked about in class today. Would it be too radical to have some kind of story that is outlined in written form, like a novel, but then opens into a game where the player physically plays out the story? Maybe that’s what games always have been, and to draw attention to it in that way would be awkward. But nevertheless, I still see a interesting relationship between the written lore of The Witcher and the gameplay itself.

    One other small issue I have with the game is its depth. The inventory and character development is very complicated. There is a lot of information available in the manual and in the tutorial part of the game, but I found myself checking back to this information a lot more often then I would have liked. I’m all for a deep game, but when the game is too complicated to just pick up and play, then that’s a problem. I don’t quite want the game to do it all for me, however, because then what is the point of playing an RPG? I could just play an action game. A good balance I think would be an inventory and character development which is simple and easy to understand, but has advanced features which are under the hood, optional, or become relevant once the player experiments a little. I think then the hardcore role-player would be happy, as well as the more casual player.

    This entry has been edited 2 times. It was last edited on Feb 9th, 2008 at 19:22:19.

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    [February 8, 2008 10:55:50 PM]
    The Witcher is a role playing game where the player takes control of Geralt of Rivia, a professional monster slayer called a Witcher. The Witcher offers a rich and dark fantasy world based on a Polish legend. The dark and “in your face” story tackles mature issues such as racism, terrorism, sex and rape. The game itself is designed with the Aurora engine first featured in Neverwinter Nights II. It offers a detailed if not complicated real time role-playing experience where the player can specialize in many different areas such as combat, magic or potion making to overcome the game’s obstacles.

    The gameplay of The Witcher is very standard for a PC role-playing game. There are three camera modes available. Low and high isometric provides an overhead view of the action and the OTS (Over the Shoulder) view puts the camera behind Geralt, more effectively placing the player in the middle of the action. I decided to play with an OTS view because I wanted more immersion as opposed to more strategic control. I played my way through the prologue, which served as an extended tutorial on the game play.

    The game HUD was unique, detailed and complicated at the same time. The game features a mini map in the upper right corner, along with button which opens up the character sheet, inventory and journal. All of these options do not seem radically different from other RPGs. One difference is that there is only one character class available, the hero class. However, the player has the option to grow their character with experience points in any way they wish. They can choose to build a combat focused hero, or perhaps a magically focused character. There are a lot of options open and the character growth is very deep. The journal is also a great addition to the game world. It allows the player to keep track of all their active quests, but also keep enters on characters, monsters, places, terms and items. This fictional world has a very rich background which can be discovered by the player and added into this book.

    Combat, on the other hand, seemed like a bland process. To attack an enemy, I merely had to click on them and Geralt would run over to attack. The mouse cursor would appear as a sword, and upon a queue, I would click again to start a combination attack. I was also given the choice of different attack styles. I could choose between powerful attacks that have a high chance of missing, quick weak attacks or attacks that damage a group. This system seems like it offers a lot of player input, but I didn’t find it to be that engaging. The area I explored had only one type of enemy, one that required quick attacks. So instead of combat merely being clicking on an enemy to attack, it became merely clicking on an enemy in a rhythm. The problem is that the rhythm is the same every time. So I wondered why the designers even put the combo system into the game in the first place.

    This entry has been edited 1 time. It was last edited on Feb 9th, 2008 at 19:24:05.

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    Kool-aid!'s The Witcher (PC)

    Current Status: Stopped playing - Got Bored

    GameLog started on: Friday 8 February, 2008

    GameLog closed on: Wednesday 12 August, 2009

    Kool-aid!'s opinion and rating for this game

    No comment, yet.

    Rating (out of 5):starstarstar

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