Friday, February 20, 2009

Honourable Mentions: The Witcher (Enhanced Edition) – PC Game

enhanced editionThose who are long time readers of the blog will know I made the conscious decision not to review games on this blog. However I am not opposed to giving the odd one an honourable mention as I come across them. To be honest, it has been a while since I had a good gaming session, but that occurred recently when I bought the Witcher.

Based on a Polish series of books I was grabbed by this RPPG from the start. Its biggest draw was a wonderful balance of story and freedom. It doesn’t, perhaps, have the same freedom as Oblivion but it has freedom within choices and the choices you make massively effect the development of the story. You will eventually reach the same place, but on another road and for, perhaps, another reason.

The other great thing about the game is the fact that it is so... mature is the best descriptor I can find. Not just in gore levels, expletives and the fact that your character will sleep with just about anything – with sex cards (collecting them is kind of like a mini game) over a blurred back video and, incidentally, I believe that these were censored for the US release. But in the topics covered. There is a story about racism here and about monsters – the monsters within man compared to the beasts that haunt the night and our nightmares.

flederI have completed the main game at time of writing this and am about to embark on playing the additional adventures that ship with the enhanced edition of the game. The game does feature vampires – and a variety of them at that. We have a variety of minor vampires appearing as enemies through the game. Such creatures as Fleders and Garkains. Hideous bat like creatures who haunt the night and can stun victims with, what appeared to be, a bat like sonar.

alpThe game does feature vampires in a side quest and main quest. The Side Quest concerns a brothel run by the Queen of the Night – a bruxa. She has her sisters with her, a pair of alps. As your journal says: “No other monster inspires so many myths and fallacies as the alp. People believe that this vampire is able to turn into a black dog or a venomous toad. They mistake alps for succubi, believing them to be lecherous and inclined to seduce handsome young men. Folk tales describe their charm and their beautiful, seductive voices, as well as their loathing of virgins. What is true beyond any doubt is that they move noiselessly and attack by surprise, rarely giving their victims as much as a chance to scream in terror.”

bruxaPlay your cards right on this quest and you can end up with a bruxa and two alp orgy! Actually this quest really does underline the game’s desire to play with the concept of what, and who, is a monster. It also highlights the way the game will throw little bits of information at you and give it an importance later as you are told in an earlier chapter of a friend you once had, a higher vampire, and this piece of information seems throw away. You discover, in this quest, that he and the Queen of the Night were lovers. Marvellous stuff.

strigaTowards the end there is a case involving a type of vampire, the striga. I won’t spoil the quest or the story leading up to it but we do discover that these creatures can be created through a curse and, in this case, incest is involved within the curse. Of course such unions have been the source of vampirism before. The film Mark of the Vampire had this as a source of vampirism (along with suicide) until the censors expunged that entire back story. Though the incestuous source is somewhat different in this story.

Anyway, if you game on the PC and you like your role playing games morally grey, you could do worse than give Witcher a go.


The Dirge Of Gabriel said...

I've been looking at this game out of the corner of my eye for some time now, humming and harring to get it, and since I own a PS3 as well it readily completes with PC games. I DO find PC games usually better in terms of game length compared to the usually 6-7hr length of a console game for a ridiculous AU$110 a piece. PC Games are cheaper here to but you have to install them etc.

But from your sage advice I am going to give this one a go in the next few weeks when the gaming bug grabs me because I have a $60 voucher for the game shop to use.

So I have three questions before that. The first is how long does it take to play the game start to finish roughly, and what's the combat like? Also what is saving like? is it one of the games where if you save it and die shortly after, you can save/load it anywhere or are you at the computers mercy having to redo 5+ minutes of a level and rewatch the same between level movie 10 times?

These are my factors for enjoying a game.


Dyaebl said...

well, Queen of the Night is kinda higher vampire, same as Regis was (mentioned in Shanis party and probably by her too), and those doughters/sisters - yes, those where bruxas and alps. More because game has no form for normal vampire, only to these creatures.
Bruxas feed on people and real vampires simply feel drunk by blood, like alcohole, so she was but-a-vampire afteral :) Mentioned even in books, although as I know they are not yet translated into english.
But Regis had an eye to succubus - so she can be comapared to them ;) this lady I mean.

Taliesin_ttlg said...

Dyaebl, thanks. The game isn't too clear as to whether an elder vampire is anything more than one of the higher form of vampires who have evolved through age past the more beast like side of their nature. counts the alps and bruxa as higher vampires and lists the Queen as a Bruxa:

Admitedly, as I say, the game isn't clear.

Gabriel, when I told a friend I was getting this he said patch immediately as it has two minute load times!!! However, the enhanced version massively cut this down amongst other improvements. Certainly no patching was needed and the load times were reasonable. You can save and load at any time, though there is an auto save functionality built in, as well as quick save.

I played the game over five days, but it is 5 days off work - half term - with me gaming like mad on and off through the day and my son playing oblivion on the 360! I certainly didn't manage every quest (though they were minor ones and I triggered events thus losing them). How long? not sure but not the 6-7 hours thats for sure!

combat is a case of point and click, in simplest terms. The witcher picks up talents and there is a system of click, time the next click to unlock combos, along with a combat useful magic system and dodging/feinting. I enjoyed the combat system, you felt more in control than perhaps some rpgs

The Dirge Of Gabriel said...

Ok thanks for that - I saw it on the shelf still the other day so I'll scoop it up soon unless something else catches my eye :)

hmmm - the short gameplay kinda turns me off though - $100 is a lot to pay for games you really want to be playing 100hrs+ like with the Neverwinter Nights games - I love those - I'm hoping for a NWN3 - not too fond of World of Warcraft etc and the $20/mth subscription I guess. Plus the character generator is better in NWN. Necromancers!!!

But back on the topic of vampires, besides the Legacy of Kain games (Blood Omen was just tops and I prefer Kain over Raziel) I think Vampire Masquerade - Bloodlines was top notch.

Taliesin_ttlg said...

Gabriel, I wouldn't necessarily say it was short game play - all things considered. 5 days with at least 7 hours play per day.

Not as long as NWN but like that you can add user made modules (there aren't many though)and the extended has two bonus modules at around the 4-5 hour play mark.

btw, talking nwn - did you ever play the module the Book of Shaddowe? I wrote that, I did...

The Dirge Of Gabriel said...


Ok i read it wrong I thought you said 5 hrs total - in my defense i did read this post at 4am before going to work!

Hmmm not sure if I played that module you made - NWN was a LONG time ago - as was NWN2 which is why I'm surprised I haven't seen a NWN3 yet - i remember playing the Ravenloft Mod someone wrote though - that was schweet...

Taliesin_ttlg said...

Comment reposted due to link in it:

posting as Sheela someone who signed off as Kaylee put the following: I recently came accross your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I dont know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.

I thank you for that, thus have reposted, but have deleted your post as the link seemed somewhat spam like to me... apologies if it wasn't.