I rarely ever dwell in the stories of most games, since they are usually horribly written (unless you are Hidetaka Miyazaki). However, The Witcher 3 completely overwhelmed me with its plot mechanics; the story has multiple endings for various subplots that are chosen via dialogue options or your actions.
The last time I played a game with this much consequence was Fable, a long lost game that came out for the first XBOX, my first console and the only console I played on before my recent PS4.
I played Fallout 4 last year and though the game had multiple dialogue options, they ultimately had no real consequence (Far Harbor attempted to avoid that, but alas, one DLC does not change the whole game).
There are so many things the Polish developers got right about the game;
- Rich, detailed characters. You could actually differentiate between them and your response towards them could alter entire villages much later in the gameplay. Having read little on the game, a lot of the consequences in later parts of the game shocked me.
- The Eastern European influence is amazing. It isn’t just a half-assed gimmick to give the game its flavour, it revels in the culture and lore, from accents and food customs to the music and myths within the game. The Crones are influenced by The Baba Yaga of Slavic tradition, while also drawing from the three witches of Macbeth. Not to mention their fantastic design.
- Multiple endings. Not one, not two, but a whole handful of them.
- Crafting and looking for crafting materials actually matter, for once, in a game.
- Preparing for enemies also matters for once.
- The game has great throwback moments (that I understood after reading up on it Reddit). I thought they were smart, tongue-in-cheek and tastefully done.
- I didn’t care much for Gwent in this first playthrough but will be sure to rectify it in my second. It’s a nice game within the game.
- Geralt’s beard grows over the days in-game, and you have to actively keep shaving. That’s really fucking awesome.
- The game generously rewards exploration, and you actually have an incentive to divert from the primary campaign. Plus, places of power are a nice touch to give you the edge in the game.
- Witcher sense is a great mechanic for someone like me who can’t be bothered with checking for guides for every little puzzle I can’t solve on my own.
I do have some pet peeves with the game, namely the inability to lock on to bosses, the mostly redundant crossbow and the concept of levelled loot, sinced that means you only get good items the higher level you are (and hence giving you less incentive to fight exotic creatures above your level), but the game left me awed and more than satisfied (yeah fuck you, Fallout 4). Having only raved about Bloodborne and Dark Souls all this while, it’s finally nice to have a new game to obsess about. I will probably take a little break and try other games before returning for the DLCs.
I didn’t care too much about the bosses in the game, but the Crones were so well done, I keep playing their theme in my head.