The first thing to say when talking about this game is that there is a TON of stuff to do. For real, this game can easily log over 100 hours. It’s a completionists nightmare. Or heaven, depending on who you ask. Still, it’s more than a little insane. The next thing for me to say is that I hadn’t played the previous entries in the franchise. So, I went into this game blind to the plot. That did a little damage to my experience, but not as much as you’d think. I haven’t had a game that gets me back into old-school RPG experience in a long time. The closest that I came was Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch. An excellent game, in its own right, but a totally different animal from this game. Well, kind of. There might just be a lot to talk about with this game. Let’s get down to it.
The plot of this game follows Geiralt as he is looking for his ward, who is like a daughter to him, Ciri. He is hot on her trail, trying to find her, but he isn’t alone. A group of icy phantoms called the Wild Hunt is also after her. The race is on to find her, and a TON of players all have their own parts. This goes on in a changing Northern Realms, mired in war between two powerful nations, and a growing amount of religious extremism that is threatening to tear the nation apart. And that’s as simple as I can make the plot. Part of that is because of the fact that this game very much is the culmination of all of these games, and it expects you to know stuff. That’s something that the uninitiated like myself have to contend with. It’s all very complicated.
Where to start with the elements of this game. I’m not quite sure. I guess I will address that, according to the initiated into the franchise, this game is a lot easier than previous entries. Since I’m a story-seeker, that didn’t do too much, for me. It’s still pretty difficult, but I am playing it on a lower difficulty setting. I guess that sort of thing comes down to what type of gamer you are.
Visually, this game looks fucking amazing! No joke, this is some amazing stuff. The texture quality varies, depending on where you are. It seems like this game knew to not try and have Assassin’s Creed: Unity levels of fidelity, instead aiming for it to look very good, and to show off the stuff that they want to. It looks great, but it’s no Bloodborne. Take that for what you will. I will say that the character models all looked phenomenal. For a game where the main character is supposed to be emotionally muted, they were able to make expression play a big part of the game. It’s excellent, for what it is.
This brings us to the characters and voice acting. The voice acting in this game is TOP NOTCH. They got the guy who plays Tywin Lannister on Game of Thrones to do the voice of the Emperor of the invading army. That is really cool. The rest of the cast is solid as can be. The bulk of it is very European voices, but they have some odd-ball people at strange times. It’s an odd choice, but I have no problem with it. Every major character is bursting with personality, and part of me thinks that it goes back to the fact that this game is the last in a franchise. Unsure.
The leveling system they use here is kind of odd. You earn experience points, that you can put into certain things, but these things have to be a grid that you unlock spaces on by leveling up. The system can be cumbersome, but it incentives strategic play. In addition to experience points, you unlock mutagen spaces, where you can augment your skills even more. There is something of a learning curve to playing using this system, but it isn’t so complicated that you’ll be pulling your hair out. To be honest, I sometimes forgot that I had leveled up. It’s an odd sensation.
Oh, and the process of buying and selling and customizing weapons is also a bit much. You’ll want to keep a close eye on where you local blacksmith is. You’ll be visiting him often. Every piece of equipment you have degrades. All of it. You find a TON of loot, which makes getting new stuff easier, but still. You’ll have to make repairs all the time. But don’t just pass by loot because you don’t think it is useful. That ties in to the Alchemy system. Alchemy and crafting are involved, complicated, and can be more hassle than they’re worth. If this also isn’t a thing that you are into, you will get annoyed with it pretty quick.
Well, if it’s an RPG, there are a TON of side-quests. Let’s talk about that. First thing – this game has a LOT of fetch-quests. A lot of them. Some of them make up for this deficiency by having them involve fun characters. Making it so that you are at least entertained. Smart choice. But, if you are like me and despise these, this game will bug you, at points. There is also gambling, fisticuffs, all kinds of odds-and-ends side-quests that can take up hours of your time. But the ones that you will really be enjoying are the quests where you take on contracts to kill monsters and solve mysteries.
Those quests make this game, for me. No joke, without them, this game would score a lot lower. My favorite was chasing down a serial killer. Watching Geralt put his Witcher skills to work figuring out crimes and hunting down monsters and the like is just awesome. It had a very L.A. Noire feel to it. That really made me happy. I could play this game over and over again just for those quests alone. It makes slogging through some of the more monotonous stuff that much better. Especially since slogging through some of the boring stuff can unlock the better stuff. Stick with it, and this game can give you some amazing stuff to do. But, if you aren’t the kind of gamer that is into this deep levels of RPG mechanics, it will get boring. Fast. For me, I honestly have to take breaks from the game, because I’m not super-RPG guy. Weird, I know, since I’m a story-seeker. But boring missions can be a chore.
To sum this game up – it’s an old-school RPG done right. This is RPG gaming at its best. For better or worse, it takes what is genre-standard and gets it done just right, with an engaging game and fun characters who will make your experience that much better. Well, wasn’t that review useful? I know, a lot of tangenting and bringing up random stuff. The reality is that a perfect review of this game would go on for pages, and you would get bored. I will say that if you like this kind of game, you are going to love The Witcher III. As I have said before, take that for what you will.
8 out of 10