The Witcher 2 never really captured me. It’s a great game that deserves your attention if you like RPGs, deep stories, sex and violence, political deception, mysteries, and a relatively good combat system. If you like Skyrim, Dark Souls, Bioshock, or Fable, then you’ll very likely enjoy this game, but I must ask you to take heed that something about it – some indefinable factor – kept me from getting into it. I rarely cared for the characters too much. Enough of my lack of emotional investment in lines of code, though, and on with the review:
The gameplay is solid. The tutorial isn’t very good at showing you what is and isn’t useful, as I thought most of the “signs” (spells) were almost useless. Also, there is no such thing as a health pack, medi-gel, stim-pack, whatever; they don’t exist in this game. Instead, you get a very useful sign called “Quen.” It gives you a barrier, sort of like the overshield from the Halo series, and can absorb a set amount of damage before going away. You can upgrade it, give yourself more uses for it, and so on. Combat is fast and calls for proper preparation. Unless you play this game on Easy, combat will be very tough at first, so you must learn quickly. You get two swords: one for dealing with humans and another for dealing with monsters. On top of this, you can customize your armor, craft bombs and traps, etc. The developers really did a good job at keeping the combat full of potential variety, but that all depends on how much you delve into the available options. I found myself liberally dodging attacks, rather than parrying, blocking, or riposting, and I must say that it was much more useful for my play style, and I felt that I missed out on a lot of variety due to how ineffective these other techniques were to me.
The story is thick, heavy, mature, and at times hilarious. This was the best part of the game to me, and your choices (some of them) do actually matter. There are several different endings to the game, and by the end of it the story really has shaped to what you’ve done. Also, this game has more nudity than any other game I’ve played by far. Additionally, some of the girls you can have sex with take little more than a few lines of dialogue to do the dirty with, so I found that funny. I cheated on Triss Merigold, my girlfriend, and was never punished. This goes along with the lack of a morality system. The way you interact with the game world is very subjective, and not put into a black and white dichotomy of right versus wrong or good versus evil. Instead, it’s very much like how the real world is: full of varying shades of gray, with few people on the extremes. This lack of a system makes more sense, but does make the game more ambiguous and confusing to those with a less adept and/or acute moral compass.
Technically, this is a very pretty game, and I honestly cannot complain in this area. Animations are nice, lip-synching is average, and sound and music are very good. Your journal is written as if being narrated from the future by one of your friends in the game named Dandelion. This is an interesting aspect, and gives everything a nice internal voice behind it. Also, in most games it is possible to become obscenely rich, amass vast amounts of resources, and completely obliterate anything that comes in your way once you invest enough time in the game (think a level 80 on Skyrim versus what used to be a difficult Elder Dragon), but in The Witcher 2 I was never very wealthy, and me buying much-needed superior swords and armor pieces kept me set pack at a modest level. I even did most of the side-quests. This isn’t a complaint, but an interesting aspect of the game that is unlike most of its peers.
I, again, never got truly invested in The Witcher 2, but I’d wager that’s a personal problem and not the game’s fault. It isn’t my favorite game by any means, nor do I consider it a classic-to-be, but it’s a very solid experience, especially for RPG fans or gamers that like a truly good story. Just remember that dodge button.
Score: 8.5 out of 10