A New Breed of Fantasy RPG
Product: The Witcher
Company: Atari
Date: 07/15/2007
Avaliable On:

The Witcher isn't your standard good versus evil RPG where, even though you have choices, they don't really mean much since you can just load up a previous save and try another approach.

The Witcher is based on the universe created by Polish author Andrzej Sapkowski. You play a legendary monster slayer named Geralt who happens to have strange abilities and great reflexes. So what is it about The Witcher that makes it so unusual? Part of it is the universe in which it takes place in.

Instead of being a very Tolkienesque environment where there are a group of good guys going up against a very obvious group of bad guys, the people who dwell in this world are more gray and everybody does what they think is best, or at least they do what is the lesser of two evils. Everybody, including your character, who is essentially a mercenary. In this world, Humans have taken over and, similar to what happened when Europeans came to the Americas, rounded up all of the magical creatures and put them on reservations. They are not allowed to use their abilities and they are treated as second-class citizens.

Because of this, there is a rebellion among these "lesser" creatures. And your character is caught in between and able to work for either group. Throughout the game, you are allowed to make choices and while those choices do have eventual consequences, they will not be evident right away. The developers did this to keep you from saving off a game every time you make a choice and the reloading it when it doesn't work out exactly how you want. For instance, when you are hired to protect some goods, you approached by a band of Elves. You can either give them those goods or stick to your job and protect the the goods. Either choice might not make much of a difference immediately, but after about 10 hours of gameplay, you might find that those same elves have raided a village and killed a contact you were trying to reach. Had you made a different choice, that NPC might still be alive and you might not have to go through a lot of extra work in order to get your information.

Granted, you can still save off a copy of the game with each choice you make, but I doubt you will want to play through 10 hours of the game just to get back to the same point. Because of this, each choice you make feels more real and has more weight than most RPGs.

The Witcher is scheduled for release this Fall.

J.R. Nip aka Chris Meyer

GameVortex PSIllustrated