I can remember there was a time in my life where I considered myself an RPG fanatic. I played WoW, Final Fantasy, and a few others. Unfortunately, my obsession with the RPG dissolved over the years, as the FPS genre crept its way into my gaming nerve.
No more than 6 months ago, I went and purchased another trophy for my “RPG” collection, in an attempt to revitalize the same feelings of exploration and mysticism that I once experienced all those years ago. It was The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. I dumped a solid 100+ hours, questing, starting new characters, trying different factions, different classes and races, the list goes on. I could say that my old RPG itch had been scratched.
Having set Skyrim aside, convinced that I had played a reasonable amount, optimistic that is was the single greatest game I had ever played, I moved on. Now, after 6 months and a steam summer sale, I’m absolutely positive that Skyrim IS NOT the single greatest game I have ever played.
The Witcher 2: Assassin’s of Kings has to be, by a landslide of a margin, the single most enriching, intriguing, and rewarding game I have had the pleasure of playing.
To start of, the Witcher 2 is something of a gaming marvel, in that it takes nearly every element of the RPG experience that I have grown to love over the years, and combine them together, into some sort of all knowing, all seeing RPG hybrid god. There’s an eloquence in the Witcher 2’s gameplay and presentation that has been sorely lacking since that days of FFX (For me at least). From the real time/slow down/pick your weapon, action, to the diverse and intelligent dialogue, CD Projekt Red’s attention to deal and dedication to telling a gripping and down right fun to play story really shows.
Perhaps the second greatest aspect of the game stems from the previously mentioned dialogue. Every character within the game, major and minor alike, brings something fresh, unique, and often times unsettling to the table. There’s no shortage of deep, complex characters to read into and attempt to understand. I often times found myself, scrolling through journal entry after journal entry, enticed by the need to understand the characters and their stories. Where other game have lost me in the past, The Witcher beautiful integrates into its experience. I can’t count the number of times I’d skip over storyline base books in Skyrim, while during my time with the witcher, I’d take no greater pleasure than reading line after line of character development and text. It’s a fine testament to the games expertly crafted storytelling.
Finally, it is important to note that the game looks absolutely gorgeous. I can remember telling myself “Look at the mountain! It’s so lush and beautiful” in Skyrim (And skyrim’s graphics aren’t half bad) But compared to the rendered magic that CD Projekt Red has given us, the distinction between “not half bad graphics” and borderline photo realism starts to become more and more apparent. This game is truly a sight to behold (even if you can’t run it on make settings)
The leaps and bounds that CD Projekt Red took after running The Witcher on the aurora (Morrowind) engine, to creating their own, that looks great and plays great, is staggering.
All that being said, this game is not for everyone. At times, I found myself dying to what seemed like insurmountable odds (I’m looking at you Nekkars), only to retry again and again, however, the Witcher 2 was never met with frustration, but with analysis. “What did I do wrong?” “What should I do differently?” “How can I mix things together to achieve a different outcome?” It forced me to slow down and think about fights, not just running head first into the fray.. The game takes a level of patience to understand and play efficiently. It’s not something most people (if anyone) can just jump right into and play flawlessly. There’s a noticeable level of finesse that evolves from the trial and error of the game. This leads the game to have a generally slower pace than most RPGs (and most games in general) on the market right now. It’s not a bad thing, it’s just something to bare in mind if you’re migrating from Call of Duty or something over to this (Not sure why you would though…..)
On an artistic side note, the soundtrack for the game is jaw droppingly epic, mixing both the tried and true medieval-esc orchestral arrangements, to the heavy metal accompaniments, the game covers a wide spectrum of music from emotional to rip roaring. It’s a lot of fun to listen to, and it further enhances the experience.
It’s been awhile since I’ve sat down at a computer (or gaming console) and felt the urge to play a game to it’s fullest extent. No skipping quests, not skipping cutscenes, not leaving any stone unturned. It feeds that RPG obsession that I’ve hungered for so long like nothing before. It’s a challenging game, but one that rewards its players, and the sum of it’s parts are 100% absolutely worth the price of admission. If you’re a fan of RPGs, check this game out. If you’re a fan of well crafted and intelligent games, check this game out. An absolutely treat that should be enjoyed by as many people as possible.