WARNING: Mildly NSFW images in this post. Also language.
So I have one 3/4 written post from like a month ago about a previous game in my current Old RPG binge. But umm, yeah, I’ll finish it eventually. It’s harder to write reviews about how awesome a game is without spoiling it than it is to complain about shit.
This post is both. So after I ragequit Baldur’s Gate 1 I did start playing Jade Empire. And it’s a very good game. But action-oriented. Easy enough, but still kinda stressful to play. And it involves lots of clicking, which aggravated my knitting-related RSI. I pledge to go back and finish it.
But then GOG had a flash sale one day, and I snagged a copy of The Witcher Enhanced Edition for $1.50. Literally all I knew about it when I clicked buy was that it was an RPG and I had heard good things about Witcher 3. I checked reviews after I bought it and they were overwhelmingly positive. Awesome.
So first things first, the game looks really nice. It’s from 2007 but it still looks great. I was coming off a bunch of games from around The Turn of the Century (that’s still fun to say!) so yeah I’m a little skewed in my perception. But even compared to Jade Empire, that came out the same year, this looks loads better. Maybe that’s the “Enhanced” part. Honestly, unless you’re only playing lastest gen consoles and games from this year, I don’t think you’re going to notice a real deficit in graphics here.
It’s a little jarring to not have a choice of gender and appearance for your character. You get a brooding white muscular male, Geralt of Rivia. I don’t have a problem playing male characters, and I see the benefit of crafting a story around a defined character with set history. But there’s still something about being forced into the Default White Male box with gaming that makes me a bit leary.
But the actual game was surprisingly fun. The combat took some getting used to, as this is an action-y RPG again. But it’s really a Diablo-esque “click on the bad guys to kill them” kind of game. And the easy setting is REALLY easy. I like that in a game. You have to choose your weapon and your attack, which you can do while paused. Difference blades work on different kinds of enemies and some need fast attacks while other need strong, etc. And you have to time your clicks to get attack bonuses. At first it was a bit much to figure out, but it soon stopped feeling at all stressful. And unlike Jade Empire I could do almost everything easily with my trackpad and my left hand, which relieves my hand issues.
The plot is ok, fairly standard for an RPG. You’re a Witcher, a mutant who fights monsters. You get special attacks and abilities. You are sent to hunt down some bad guys. Lots of things happen and you fight a bunch of crap. I really enjoyed the questing and progression through different areas. Though there IS a lot of running around from place to place. And to not miss out on quests and different options I found a walkthrough/guide very helpful. But this was a COMPELLING and addictive game. You can ask my husband: I did little else in my downtime but play this for a couple weeks. The game makers are obviously skilled at crafting a game so you are constantly moving forward and want to keep playing.
The makers, by the way, are CDProjekt, a company from Poland. The games are based on a series of fantasy novels by Andrzej Sapkowski. So one thing that became apparent before too long is that this game was not going to win any awards for gender inclusiveness. The outfits on female characters are skimpy in a way that is fairly typical for fantasy video games, but which has improved in some parts of the industry recently.
And I have no problem with sex in games. My Dragon Age playthroughs are ALL about the romance stories. But sex in The Witcher is basically a collection quest, where every named female character (ok, except the old ones) is a seduceable character. And once you have sex with them, you get a “sex card” for them. Yes, really. Here’s an example.
They’re all basically the worst fantasy pin-up style shots, with frequent full-frontal nudity. So as you collect these women, you get to see them in their nighties as well. They all apparently wear the same one. It looks like this.
You’ll note Mr. Of Rivia stays fully clothed in armor at all times, including during and after sex. If the nudity levels were at ALL equal across genders this would be easier to take.
But the frequency of this kind of thing is just laughable. Like this character design. This isn’t a sex scene, it’s just how the character looks all the time. (Though of course, you can have sex with her.)
The isn’t the worst character design, cause of her conveniently placed hair. There’s a dryad that’s just naked, but green. (And yes, you can sleep with her, TOO. Getting the idea? If it’s got nice tits, you can fuck it.)
There are other instances of the sex in this game being ridiculous. Like “hey I saved you from rape back there, wanna fuck?” (Of COURSE she does.) Possibly more annoying than anything isn’t that the game presents these options to the player, but that they are so incredibly difficult to AVOID. I found myself more than once accidentally sleeping with someone just because I chose the “nice” conversation option. This is clearly the way they want you to play Geralt. He collects the set. Conveniently, even after you “become serious” with one woman in particular, she doesn’t mind you sleeping around. She wants commitment from you, but “isn’t jealous.” Except apparently of the one particular woman you sleep with, because you’re forced to chose between two women which to “get serious” with. The other gets very angry.
So yeah, I know this makes the game sound unattractive, but actually I really, really enjoyed it. The vast majority of the time spent with the game is running around killing monsters and fetching stuff. And all of that is GREAT. It’s honestly one of my favorite RPGs, except for everything involving sex and women in relation to sex. If a penis was involved in the decision making about something, the outcome SUCKS, but otherwise, it’s a great game.
And lest someone get the wrong idea I’m not ANGRY about the sexism, really. Cause my reaction was to laugh every time something else cropped up. It’s so terrible it’s funny, in an “I’m embarrassed for you” kind of way. It doesn’t stop me from wanting to play the other two games in the series, although it does have me wondering whether I should legally pay for them. I’m a bit hesitant to pay actual money only to get more of the same or worse treatment of women. But for $1.50 I got amazing value for my money.
So I do recommend the game, but with the caveat that you have to be able to laugh at some Polish idea of female characters in video games.