The Witcher (from Wiedźmin) is a computer role-playing game for the PC developed by CD Projekt RED STUDIO and published by CD Projekt in Poland and Atari for the rest of the world. The game is based on the book series of the same name by Polish author Andrzej Sapkowski. The game utilizes BioWare's proprietary Aurora Engine. It was released in Europe and North America in October 2007. A console version using an entirely new engine and combat system, titled The Witcher: Rise of the White Wolf, was to be released in Fall 2009 but was suspended due to payment problems with the console developers, Widescreen Games. CD Projekt RED began working on The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings.
The Witcher takes place in a medieval fantasy world and follows the story of Geralt, one of a few remaining "witchers" — traveling monster hunters for hire, gifted with unnatural powers. The game's system of "moral choices" as part of the storyline was noted for its time-delayed consequences and lack of black-and-white morality.
Plot[edit | edit source]
The game tells the story of Geralt of Rivia, who at the opening of the game is tasked to cure the daughter of King Foltest of a curse which causes her to transform into a feral monster. Geralt successfully cures her, introducing the player to the nature of witcher-work. A period of years mysteriously passes, ending with Geralt being transported to the witcher stronghold of Kaer Morhen by fellow witchers who had discovered him unconscious in a field. Geralt remembers almost nothing of his life before returning to Kaer Morhen.
The story begins with a large cutscene. It shows how Foltest, king of Temeria, hires Geralt to cure his daughter Adda from a curse in return for a night with her. Geralt captures the traitor who cast the curse and uses him as bait to attract the striga (the monster Adda turns into). A battle ensues and Geralt scares the striga away with magic. Geralt then goes into the sarcophagus where she sleeps and shuts her out. The next morning, he finds her as a human.
The prologue begins, where Geralt is found by his fellow witchers. At the end of the witcher series Geralt was killed, but somehow he was revived, but now has amnesia. He is taken to Kaer Morhen, the base of the witchers, where he meets a sorceress named Triss Merigold. The castle is attacked by a gang of bandits named Salamandra, led by a criminal known as the Professor, a mage named Savolla who controls a large, praying mantis like monster, and another mage named Azar Javed.The witchers and the sorceress manage to slay the monster, kill Savolla, but the Professor and Azar manage to escape with the mutagens that genetically alter the witchers.
After curing Triss of the wounds she received while fighting Javed and then romancing her, Geralt and the rest of the witchers head off in different directions in order to find information on Salamandra. Geralt heads south to Vizima, capital of Temeria and where king Foltest reigns. He goes to the outskirts, where he meets a powerful child and an old friend, Shani, whom he does not remember. He finds out that Vizima is in quarantine. But, by doing favors to some important officials, either saving or condemning a witch, uncovering a conspiracy between Salamandra and those officials, either sparing or slaying most of the town, and killing a giant ghost-like hound, he gets a pass and prepares to enter Vizima just to be arrested.
He awakes in a jail where he volunteers to kill a cockatrice in the sewers in exchange for his freedom. In the sewers he meets a knight of a monster-slaying order, the Order of the Flaming Rose, names Siegfried, who not only helps him kill the monster but also directs him to a private eye who can help Geralt defeat Salamandra. Geralt spends the rest of part II chasing Salamandra (with a small interruption of a party that Shani throws with Geralt's old friend Dandelion, which ends with Geralt possibly having sex with Shani). He investigates a murder, which leads him to believe that a mage is leading Salamandra. He opens an ancient tower (which the private eye instructed him to do), just to find some ancient texts. When he goes outside, he finds out that the private eye is actually Azar Javed, the mage, who knocks Geralt unconscious and takes the texts.
Geralt awakes in the personal chamber of Triss Merigold, in the rich quarter of Vizima. She has sex with him, wanting to 'examine his internal injuries. The rest of the chapter is spent uncovering the bases Salamandra has in Vizima, but also learning about a conflict between the Order of the Flaming Rose and the Squirrels and a gang of guerrilla freedom-fighting elves, dwarves, and other non-humans. He also begins uncovering another conspiracy concerning the royal seal. During a party of high-standing officials, Geralt meets Adda, who offers to have sex with him. Either if he accepts or declines, he not only finds letters in her chamber connecting her to Salamandra, but she either also hints it or his medallion shakes, which means that he is in the presence of an enemy.
Geralt finally attacks the base of Salamandra. He takes with him either Siegfried or a squirrel leader. He clears the base and then calls in either knights or elves, depending on who he brought with him, to fight Javed and the Professor. But, Javed separates Geralt and the allies, but Geralt presses on and duels the Professor. He wounds him, and just when he is about to kill the criminal a giant spider-like monster drops in and kills the Professor. Geralt causes a cave in, crushing the spider and its offspring, and then escapes. Outside, he finds himself surrounded by royal guards and Adda, who wants to shut him up.
However, Triss teleports him out of the situation and into a distance village. There, Geralt negotiates between the village and an aquatic city. At the end however, a battle begins between the Order and the Squirrels. The player can be neutral, help the knights, or the non-humans. When the battle is over Geralt, and Dandelion, who somehow appeared there with him, sail back to Vizima.
There, civil war has broken out. The Squirrels have caused a non-human uprising and the Order of the Flaming Rose wishes to end it. Depending on which side Geralt took in the previous battle, he can either be neutral and help the wounded get to hospitals with Shani, or help the knights or the elves in the battle. However, the Grand Master of the Order betrays the king, proving that he is the leader of Salamandra. He also curse Adda from a relapse of the striga curse, after which she marries a foreign king and forges and alliance between the kingdoms. The king tells Geralt to kill the Grand Master, and then Geralt can instruct the king what to do with the rebellion. Depending on which side Geralt took in the first battle, he can convince the king that the Order can still be loyal, convince him that the Squirrels are right, or convince him that they are both enemies. Then, again depending on which side Geralt took in the first battle, Geralt then either takes Siegried (Order), an eleven leader (Squirrel), or Triss Merigol (neutral) on the hunt for the Grand Master. If he takes the Order path, on the journey to kill the Grand Master he fights and kills the elven leader. If he takes the Squirrel path, he does the same to Siegfried. With the neutral path, he meets both and he can either spare or kill them.
Fighting through some genetically altered knights of the Order (which the Grand Master made using the mutagens), going through the sewers and fighting a large monster, he and his partner near the Grand Master's home. There, Siegfried or the elven leader are wounded and Geralt goes alone, or he using a ruse to ditch Triss. Whichever the case, he goes in. Inside, the Grand Master explains to him his plan, of how the prophecies said that the world would eventually be consumed in ice and the only way for humanity to escape that is to go south, and how the Grand Master only stole the mutagens so he could make superhuman bodyguards to protect humanity on their journey. When Geralt does not believe him, the Grand Master casts an illusion and the witcher finds himself in a icy wasteland. He hunts the Grand Master, running into several ape-like monsters that are in fact what humans will evolve into when the ice comes, and summoning with his mind the allies that helped him throughout the adventure. At the end, he kills the Grand Master and escapes the illusion.
Back in the real world, in the ending cut scene, the king pays Geralt and the witcher walks away. But suddenly an assassin attacks the king. Geralt duels the assassin and kills him. When he pulls of the mask, he discovers that the man has vertical pupils, just like the witchers, setting the stage for The Witcher 2: Assassin of Kings
Gameplay[edit | edit source]
There are three camera styles available in The Witcher: two top-down perspectives, where the mouse is used to control everything, and an over-the-shoulder view, which brings the player closer to the in-game combat, but limits visibility. In all three views the controls can be changed to be primarily mouse focused or a combined keyboard and mouse approach.
The combat system in The Witcher represents a departure from most RPGs. Players choose one of three fighting styles. The quick style allows for faster, less-damaging attacks with a greater chance of hitting faster enemies; the heavy style deals more damage in exchange for a slow attack speed, and a lower chance to hit faster enemies; and the group style features sweeping attacks best used if Geralt is surrounded. The player can switch between the styles at any point. Both of Geralt's main swords also have distinctively different combat styles from other weaponry, and serve very distinct purposes. The steel blade is used to fight humans and other flesh-and-blood beings, while the silver sword is more effective against supernatural monsters and beasts (against some of which steel may have no effect whatsoever). The player can, with precise timing, link Geralt's attacks into combos to more effectively damage enemies.
Alchemy is a major part of gameplay. The player can create potions that increase health or endurance regeneration, allow Geralt to see in the dark, or provide other beneficial effects. The recipes for these potions can be learned through scrolls, or by experimentation. Once the player creates an unknown potion he can choose to drink it, but if the potion is a failure it will poison or have other harmful effects on Geralt. Each time Geralt drinks potions they increase the toxicity level of his body. This can be reduced by drinking a special potion or by meditating at an inn or fireplace. In addition to potions, the player can also create oils used to augment the damage done by weapons, or bombs as weapons in combat. Neither can be created until talent points have been allocated into the corresponding skills.
A time delayed decision-consequence system means that the repercussions of players' decisions will make themselves apparent in plot devices in later acts of the game. This prompts the players to put more critical thinking into making each decision, and circumvents a save-reload approach to decision making. It also allows the game to have a unique approach to replay value, as the consequences resulting from the player's decisions can lead to great difference in the events that take place later, and ultimately a very different gameplay experience than in prior play-throughs.
The nature of the options faced when playing the game rarely falls into the typical black-and-white morality present in most computer RPGs, and the players often find themselves choosing from the lesser of two evils rather than making a clear choice between good and evil, a situation more reflective of real life morality.
Game engine[edit | edit source]
The Witcher is powered by a heavily modified version of the Aurora Engine by BioWare, enhanced for single-player. A number of changes have been introduced to the original engine; some of them are described below.
One of the most important features of the Aurora Engine is that the world is designed exactly as the developers envisioned, rather than using a tile-based system. All the environments are developed in 3ds Max and then exported into the game engine. As a result, developers can create unique game worlds, rather than recycling the same tiled objects over and over again. CD Projekt's version of the engine supports lightmaps generated in 3ds Max. Shadows generated this way are reported to look more realistic, and provide better game performance.
The modified engine also includes texture paint, a special tool that allows the developer to paint the environment using custom textures. This enables the developer to make the game world truly unique. New realistic skyboxes and water effects designed specifically for The Witcher were added to the engine. The natural light during various phases of the day is realistically altered, and the day and night transitions serve to enrich the game's ambience. The weather can dynamically change from a light drizzle to a dark, stormy downpour accompanied by thunder and lightning.
All the in-game and tool set rendering is done using DirectX 9, and the engine now supports many different shaders (water effect, bump mapping, environment mapping, etc.).
Other important changes include motion-captured animation, improved physics modelling, new mechanics and combat system. Additional modifications include the introduction of portals and the inclusion of additional graphical effects (glows, advanced dynamic shadows, blurs, etc).
Reception[edit | edit source]
|Metacritic||81 / 100|
|Computer and Video Games||8.8 / 10|
|Eurogamer||7 / 10|
|GamePro||4.5 / 5.0|
|GameSpot||8.5 / 10|
|GameSpy||4.5 / 5.0|
|IGN||8.5 / 10|
As of January 8, 2010, the original game's cumulative score is 81.04% on Game Rankings and 81 out of 100 on Metacritic. Alec Meer from PC Gamer UK gave The Witcher a 67%, describing the plot as generic, the combat engine was poor and the main character was lifeless. Michael Lafferty from Gamezone gave the game 8.8 out of 10 describing it as deep, immersive game that will 'ask you to think and make choices, not just hack ‘n slash your way to glory'. The Witcher's cinematic intro was nominated for the 2007 VES Awards in the category of Outstanding Pre-Rendered Visuals in a Video Game and the game's soundtrack was voted "Best Fantasy Game Soundtrack" in the 2007 Radio Rivendell Fantasy Awards.
Versions[edit | edit source]
Enhanced Edition[edit | edit source]
At GDC 2008, CDProjekt announced an enhanced version of the game which was released on September 16, 2008. The significant changes featured in the enhanced version are over 200 new animations, additional NPC models and recoloring of generic NPC models as well as monsters, vastly expanded and corrected dialogues in translated versions, improved stability, redesigned inventory system and load times reduced by roughly 80%. In addition all bugs are said to be fixed and the game manual completely overhauled. There are also two new adventures available to play through: Side Effects and The Price of Neutrality. A new option is to mix and match ten different languages of voice and subtitles. For instance, players can now choose to play the game with Polish voices and English subtitles. Other featured languages are Russian, Italian, French, Spanish, German, Czech, Hungarian and Chinese.
The Witcher Enhanced Edition also introduced some problems, most notably the "Cutscenes causing blurred graphics" bug which was not present in earlier versions of the game. The bug manifests in a way that all textures become blurred immediately after the player exits any cutscene or dialog, and remain blurred until the game is reloaded. On December 23, 2008 CDProjekt released a hotfix that addresses the issue, as well as fixing problems with EAX technology.
Aside from the game enhancements, The Witcher Enhanced Edition includes a "making of" DVD, a CD with 29 in-game soundtracks, another CD with "Inspired by" music, the short story The Witcher from the book The Last Wish, a map of Temeria printed on high quality paper, and the official strategy guide. In addition, a new and enhanced version of the D'jinni Adventure Editor is on the DVD with the two new Adventures. The game updates, as well as the box's extras, are available as a free download for owners of the original version who registered their game on the official forum. Furthermore, old savegames are compatible with the Enhanced Edition.
According to CD Project co-founder Michal Kicinski, the Enhanced Edition required a $1 million investment, and the company has shipped 300,000 copies of the retail version worldwide as of December 2008.
As of August 1, 2009, the cumulative Metacritic score of The Witcher: Enhanced Edition was 86% based on 29 reviews.
Director's Cut[edit | edit source]
CD Projekt released a Director's Cut version of the game on 31 of July 2009, for the North American market. It is equal to the Enhanced Edition available to the rest of the world, but without the censorship applied to the North American version. For the moment it is only available online. The company has released an official uncensored patch that makes the North American version the same as the international for those who have purchased a boxed version of the game. It can be found at Thewitcher.com
Console version[edit | edit source]
On November 29, 2008 a video covering the console version of the game was uploaded on the Internet by an anonymous person. On December 2, CD Projekt Red officially confirmed that The Witcher will be ported to PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 consoles and released as The Witcher: Rise of the White Wolf.
The console versions have been put on hold due to financing problems on the 29th of April, 2009  Remaining development staff are now reported to be working on Witcher 2 only. On September 18, The Witcher 2 had supposedly leaked footage, this was announced on various sites throughout the internet. The Witcher 2 is a sequel to the critically acclaimed "The Witcher" game, and is said to be released on the PC, it is unknown whether it will be released on the console, or if "The Witcher: Rise of the White Wolf" will fill in this role. A link to the video interview can be found at Loot-Ninja.com
Localization variations[edit | edit source]
All the female portrait cards shown after Geralt's "sexual conquests" were censored ("retouched to a more modest standard") for the US release version. The in-game Dryad was also reskinned so her hair covered more of her body in this release.
Some dialogue between characters is shortened in the non-Polish language versions. Lead Designer Michal Madej has disputed claims by fans that this was due to the sometimes crude language, but that the decision to edit down dialogue occurred because of production-related concerns in game development. Proofreader Martin Pagan noticed this shortened version during his work and writer Sande Chen confirmed that it was not due to censorship. Fans have theorized that it may have been done for voice acting cost savings, especially since much of the vulgar language has been retained. Such cost savings would normally occur during any shortening of dialogue, even in cases where no major crudity was involved.
Contents of each edition[edit | edit source]
The following table lists the contents of each edition in addition to the game DVD itself. "CE" means "Collector's Edition," "LE" means "Limited Edition," and "EE" means Enhanced Edition
References[edit | edit source]
- Release Summary. GameSpot. Retrieved on 2008-10-30
- Aihoshi, Richard (2006-05-24). The Witcher E3 View. IGN. Retrieved on 2006-09-09
- Park, Andrew (2006-05-16). The Witcher Impressions — E3 2004. GameSpot. Retrieved on 2006-09-09
- Development of the new Game "The Witcher: Rise of the White Wolf" is Frozen for PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360! press release prnewswire.com
- Eurogamer article on The Witcher 2
- Ocampo, Jason (2007-07-02). The Witcher Exclusive Impressions — Combat and Story. GameSpot. Retrieved on 2007-11-02
- Arulnathan, Justin (2007-08-24). The Witcher TheGamerGene Preview. TheGamerGene. Retrieved on 2007-08-24
- The Witcher Reviews. Game Rankings. Retrieved on 2008-08-12
- The Witcher. Metacritic. Retrieved on 2008-08-12
- Eric Neigher (2007-11-08). The Witcher (PC). 1up.com. Retrieved on 2008-08-12
- Richie Shoemaker (2007-11-06). PC Review: The Witcher. PC Zone. Retrieved on 2008-08-12
- Dan Whitehead (2007-10-26). The Witcher. Eurogamer. Retrieved on 2008-08-12
- Amanda Rivera (2007-12-04). Review: The Witcher. GamePro. Retrieved on 2008-08-12
- Brett Todd (2005-11-05). The Witcher Review. GameSpot. Retrieved on 2008-08-12
- William Abner (2007-11-21). The Witcher (PC) Review. GameSpy. Retrieved on 2010-01-08
- Dan Adams (2007-10-29). The Witcher Review. IGN. Retrieved on 2008-08-12
- Sal 'Sluggo' Accardo. Gamespy's Game of the Year 2007. Gamespy. Retrieved on 2008-08-12
- IGN Best of 2007. IGN. Retrieved on 2008-08-12
- Alec Meer (2007) "PC Gamer Reviews" retrieved January 8, 2010
- Michael Lafferty (2007) "Gamezone Witcher Review" retrieved January 8, 2010
- Visual Effect Society Nominations 2007
- "Radio Rivendell 2007 winners"
- IGNPC The Witcher Enhanced Edition.
- The Witcher Official Site (PDF)The Witcher Enhanced Edition Fact Sheet (PDF) (PDF). Retrieved on 2008-07-18
- The Witcher Official Enhanced Edition Information Page The Witcher Official Site.
- Small gift for The Witcher Community Hotfix.
- German The Witcher Site The Witcher.
- Hollister, Sean (2008-12-10). CD Projekt’s Michal Kicinski Talks Witcher Sales, Piracy and DRM. GameCyte. Retrieved on 2008-12-10
- Console version announcement Console version announcement.
- Burnes, Andrew (2007-10-24). The Witcher Preview. IGN. Retrieved on 2007-11-17
- Breckon, Nick (2007-11-07). The Witcher Script Heavily Edited for English Audiences, Says The Writer. Shacknews. Retrieved on 2007-11-17