Few games have ever elicited the kind of emotional responses from me that this game has, and I wanted to get you this review as soon as I finished the main plot before playing it again because this game hit me so ferociously. At the same time, I also wanted to digest the game and really contemplate how I should suck its dick.
It feels weird to fall in line with everyone else regarding a review for a title, but this time, I just have to. The hype for this game was real, and CD Projekt Red really fucking delivered. The love of my life bought me this game as one of a few anniversary gifts. I downloaded it, booting it up, expecting another average or possibly sub-par ARPG, but the introductory sequence changed my expectations right quick.
What’s the lifespan? [How many times did I step away from the game and come back to play that game again instead of a different one?]
Admittedly, you can only play the game so many times before you do the exact same thing over and over and over. However, I’m taken aback by how my dialogue choices ACTUALLY affect story and gameplay elements and isn’t just giving me pseudo-variability. It’s why this game scored this high because, even though you’re playing the same title, you can very easily play a completely different game just by how you interact with your surroundings or how you customize your character build. I’m not going to spoil anything in this review, so you don’t have to worry if you haven’t played it yet.
The lifespan of this game is as restricted as your curiosity and involvement with the universe of it, which is EXPANSIVE. There is so much to explore and so many things with which to interact beyond the main storyline like Witcher Contracts, secondary missions, tertiary missions; so much about this game invites you to get more out of it, it’s incredible that this game was ever finished. There are so many different parts of this game, and every major location that you visit feels like a completely different world with its own flavors. It’s so good.
How long did I play the game in total at the time of making this review?
Total Hours Played – Score: 80/80
I played this game on the lowest difficulty AKA ‘Story Only!’. I got 43 hours playing ONLY the story doing ONLY what I needed to do to advance the plot. 43 hours on the easiest difficulty is fucking amazing. I feel like I might fall victim of repeating myself throughout the review, but there is just so much to and about this game, that it nearly brings a tear to my eye, and I haven’t even talked about the story yet! I intend on playing this game on its second-hardest difficulty as well as putting more effort into doing the secondary quests and contracts, which will probably double the time it takes for a playthrough.
Not only that, but it has a mini-game called Gwent that, although I didn’t enjoy that much, it has pretty much set the bar for how mini-games should be: good.
Hours Per Session – Score: 20/20
I NEVER got tired playing this game. The longest stint I put into it got to the point where I only put it down because I was too tired to continue, and that was 17 hours straight. It’s a page-turner of a videogame for sure.
How much content is there? Did it feel like a complete, undivided experience? Did it have depth? [Hours of playtime/things to do and ways to do them, etc.]
As I stated earlier, there is so much content. So many places to visit, so many things to do and ways to do them…you get it. Did it feel like a complete experience? Absolutely. I never thought that there was something more that I wanted or needed, besides more story because it was so good! This game spoiled me with how much it offered, and I might have to hold other games to higher standards in the future after playing Witcher 3 (I’m looking at you, Fallout 4).
The depth of this game in both the mechanics of combat and interaction, as well has how well everything in the game ties together so seamlessly in terms of its story and narrative, is nothing short of a marvel to me.
How engaged did I become? How much of an impact did it have on me?
Like I said further up, this game is a page-turner. If I was physically able, I didn’t set it down when I started to play it because I wanted so badly to know what happened next or how awesome the next boss-battle would be. All of it was so intense from how it ripped out my fucking heart to the grotesque monsters that you fight for sky and country.
Since I started playing it weeks ago, I have thought about this game in at least one way or another every day, many of which was thinking about how I was going to write this review, also just recapping some things in my mind about the story. Impactful? Oh…oh ho ho yes.
How well were things explained? [Was the story captivating and the mechanics understandable?]
Mechanics – Score: 30/35
I marked this down a tad because the way I felt with how the game treated me in terms of getting me to know the mechanics was this: Game-“Alright, do this, then tha-now GOGOGOGOGOGOGOGO! FIGHT THAT FUCKER NOW!” A few times I was just very taken aback because I felt that explanations were vague or too wordy for me to remember anything.
HOWEVER, it picks it back up because there are different elements and things in the game that hold your hand a little bit and walk you through it step by step in a different way if you didn’t understand it the first time. However, great explanation would be where the game only has to tell you once, then remind you when you have to do it the first time. This game has to do a little more than that so you can get all the mechanics, which become pretty necessary in the future, down to a science.
Story/Lore – Score: 65/65
I haven’t played the other Witcher games (which I intend on changing) prior to this one, but I never felt like I was out of the loop or was missing something crucial. The dynamics that you have with other characters explain themselves pretty flawlessly and I didn’t think that I HAD to play the other games to understand this one.
The story was very captivating and heart-wrenching. I haven’t been more emotionally involved in a game since Kingdom Hearts II or the end of Halo 4. This game is on a whole ‘nother level. The game makes you feel angry and frustrated and happy and grateful and sad and scared and curious. I have never felt more immersed in a game. I almost cried at a few parts, be it happy or sad tears, dude.
How was the gameplay?
Depth of gameplay is huge in the longevity of it, and this game is no different. As you can already tell by the score, my opinion is that it is very rich in the right complexities to keep things more than just interesting, but fun and engaging. Things like potions that give you more attack strength or oils that you can use to get a buff against certain types of monsters as well as special attacks and parrying and dodging and damaged weapons and crossbow bolt types…can’t ramble on too much. There was only one instance in the game where I felt like a boss was recycled in any way. It wasn’t immediately noticeable, so I suppose that’s really the main thing, but every single aspect of this game was unique.
There was some backtracking in the game, which I despise in any game for any fucking reason, but this was made bearable by just how many things that you could do along the way and fast-travel points. I didn’t feel the need to mark it down because, even though there is some A to B to C to A to B type stuff that happens, it never felt too tedious, nor did it really take me out of the game thinking that it was stupid and just a time-waster.
How much were my senses tickled?
SFX – Score: 10/10
Every swing/slice of the sword or rustling of the trees or footstep through a bog sounded amazing. The attention to detail is very apparent.
Soundtrack – Score: 20/20
I’m listening to it as I write this review, if that tells you anything. If not, know that it’s perfect for every scenario and beautiful. The style/genre of it is perfect for this game, and everything excelled on the soundtrack to the point where I listen to it even when I’m not playing the game. Eeess good mang.
Voice Acting – Score: 20/20
I feel like a narrative-driven game like this one needs perfect voice-acting or it will completely break my concentration on the story and go to how off-putting a certain segment of the voice acting was. Everybody in this game was perfect at what they needed to do. However, some of the voice-acting done for very different people in game was pretty obviously the same voice actor for a main-character. I giggled, but it wasn’t so obtrusive like I thought I had teleported back to a different setting. However, why do some characters have American accents when this is supposedly taking place in a more Nordic world?
Graphics – Score: 17/20
Everything was so beautiful, and the game is really only done justice on PC (the platform on which I played this game). I have seen it on consoles and it makes me sad, honestly. My gripe is that facial character models were obviously recycled in some cases. Like, painfully obvious. Immersion-breaking obviousness in some cases. I understand they didn’t have that large a budge for this expansive of a game, but I have to mention it as a reviewer.
Controllability -Score: 28/30
Even though I heard that this game was dumbed down (control scheme) for console, I really did find it a lot easier to control with keyboard and mouse. I will admit that there were many (but not most) parts of the game where things felt really clunky with the space I had to maneuver and see what I was doing. The controls were tight in almost every aspect of the game and during the most important parts of it, but there were times where I was thinking ‘wow, this could have been done significantly better’.
How few bugs were there? [Any glitches in the game negatively impact the score based on how much they ‘broke’ the game or ruined my experience. After first week only.]
There weren’t any bugs that forced me to restart the game or anything, but there was one bug that was more funny than obtrusive. Sometimes, especially during a few cut-scenes, you would see a satchel or necklace or sword freak the fuck out like you were in the middle of a hurricane. It was more funny than annoying to see, so I didn’t mark it down too much, however it did really take me out of the moment where I was just staring at that thing until it stopped flailing around like a fucking imbecile.
Availability and diversity of settings?
So many settings. It’s fucking glorious. I can tweak everything to look and feel exactly the way that I want it to (and you have to in my opinion with things like parrying and Witcher Senses. Like, c’mon. You couldn’t have the default keybinding be a bit more intuitive and convenient?).
How was the optimization? [ Size of files, ability to run smoothly, etc.]
Sizes – Score: 30/30
For a game that looks and feels like 60+GB, it’s 36.1GB. That’s a grand fucking achievement, guys.
Performance – Score: 65/70
Everything on and maxed out (I have a more powerful PC), it runs amazingly well. 90+ frames constantly without overheating or crashing my system. Mind, I experienced about a ~15ms input delay, but it didn’t seem to change regardless of the settings. It does, however, suffer on older systems from even as recently as two years ago at those settings, and laptops especially struggle with it unless you have the newest Linus-approved model. The game looks okay when you turn things down to compensate for it, but then it really starts to look kinda meh. You can multi-task with this game on pretty much any system with more than 2 cores AND keep it relatively cold. It’s a taxing game, no getting around that, but it is done exceedingly well to minimize negative symptoms. I can stream this game no problem, for instance, while running several other programs in the background.
Performance At Launch [First week only.] – Score: -0/20
Doing my research, I heard/read that everything went well and was fixed promptly, they get extra credit.
DLC/Microtransaction – Score: -0/20
There are things you can buy, but they don’t affect the game in any way whatsoever UNLESS you get the expansion-packs. I’m completely fine with expansion packs if two criteria are met: The game is a full experience, and the DLC is just as good adjusted for the new price. I’ve watched some gameplay, and they get extra credit for their practices.
Customizability – Score: -0/20
I could customize almost everything from clothing to weapons in game. Some had different stats and were more efficacious, but that goes with the territory. Nicely done. Nothing felt bland or meaningless, and if it did, I could just sell it.
Community Correspondence – Score -0/20
I think that being involved with your community as much as CD Projekt Red has been is a fucking necessity for any game company. Being in consistent communication with your customers/users/fans is pretty necessary in this field.
Promises – Score: -5/20
Until game companies start being honest about what their game will look like at release when they announce it, I’ll keep docking fucking points from the score. I didn’t want to do this, mate.
Performance At Launch [First week only.] – Score: 15/20
Extra credit is awarded for perfection and achievement, not effort. They didn’t achieve perfection, but what they did was commendable from beginning to end.
DLC/Microtransaction – Score: 20/20
Fair and non-intrusive DLC? Have some extra credit.
Customizability – Score: 20/20
Cross-Platform – Score: 20/20
What’s nice is that this game was on all systems (minus Wii) at the start. Thanks for being nice to the consumer, it should be more commonplace.
Promises – Score: 20/20
They promised a wide open, expansive, immersive, engaging world? We got it.
~~~~~Final Score: 1,070 / 1,000~~~~~
In the end, this game is fucking incredible and I would recommend it to anyone that didn’t mind investing the amount of time it took to not only enjoy THIS game, but to actually say that this game really offered a lot to the player. The story is rich and captivating from the very beginning. The fights are challenging and satisfying. The mechanics are fluid, and everything is just a mastahpiece and a testament to what could and should be done for games in the future. If there is another Witcher game, I don’t know how they would top this.
In the very beginning, you start off tracking in this cutscene of what you assume to be (if you haven’t played the other titles) a woman that is important to Geralt running from some inhospitable force. Things pick up and lead to you having the option of getting in a tutorial that isn’t just bare-bones, but actually gives you more context about characters, and it’s very well done. I think that it’s something that, even if you know the mechanics of the game, you should do regardless.
In my asshole-attempt to oversimplify this game, here it goes: Where did she go? Why is the world ending? Fuck, gotta save these assholes again.
Like I said, wayyyyy oversimplified, but if you were to strip everything but the most absolutely necessary components of the game away, you would be left with that. Even so, it’s such a compelling story that if things did get too complicated, it might leave you confused instead of satisfied. Out of all the games I’ve played, I feel like this is the perfect option for a game to be admitted to my over 1,000 list.