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In an attempt to escape my diseased existence last week, I dived back into the world of The Witcher- when I wasn’t busy warmongering in EVE. Having picked it up about a year ago, I set about downloading the Extended Edition content, as well as the Polish language pack.

– The first thing that struck me had a lot more to do with the upgrades I’ve made to my PC in the last year. I was impressed with the scale of the opening cutscenes and the game itself looked very nice, considering it was using a modified version of the Aurora engine. The problem a year ago was that it just battered my old 6 series card, and some fights would become a slideshow with all the effects on. Now, though, my 8800GT took care of business and the only issue I had was a bug that blurs the display unless you turn off certain lighting effects. Annoying, but a small price to pay for playability.

– What at first seems like a simplistic, timed click fest of a combat system becomes much better as you advance and get access to more weapons, potions, and signs. Using group style to tear through a throng of enemies and then firing off an Aard sign to stun a surviving enemy for a deathblow has yet to get old.

– The decisions you have to make in The Witcher are as muddy as its setting, but still come down to a binary choice. Despite an unclear outcome your options usually just come down to help or don’t help, kill or don’t kill. There’s also a glaring lack of persuasion options- beyond the sharp end of a sword -which is also limiting somewhat. The advantage of The Witcher is that you are making a binary choice, but one based on the information you have as the player, rather than a “good” or “evil” one. There’s no real light or dark side option, just grey.

– Playing through The Witcher with Polish voices and subtitles does a great job of sidestepping the problem of dodgy English voice acting, and the remaining issues with the text are a lot easier to overlook. I still have a major issue from my last play session, though: Stop using words like genetically modified. Whether it’s intended, or a mis-transaltion, it’s just wrong in a Dark Ages setting. Mutants: Yes. Alchemy: Yes. Genetics: No!

The Witcher is a good game; it just took a decent graphics card to realise it.


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