Developed by Polish developer CD Projekt, The Witcher 2 takes place nearly six months after the first game. The prologue kicks off in a prison, where Geralt of Rivia, our protagonist, is being interrogated in connection with the murder of the King. From then on, the game oscillates between Geralt’s prison break and the events that led to his imprisonment, where you find out that he was wrongly accused of murder.
As a role-playing game, The Witcher 2 is more linear than games like The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion or Fallout 3, but it does make up with tons of moral choices that affect the outcome. In between missions that propel the plot forward, there’s lots to indulge in, from side quests that entail hunting monsters to certain quirky yet enjoyable activities like gambling, arm wrestling and brawling.
Even though this is a European RPG, voice-acting is solid and all the cast members execute their parts with aplomb. The story is also interesting, weaving politics, deceit, sex and violence into one enjoyable plot that can thankfully be understood and appreciated by newcomers too. Unlike the first game, The Witcher 2 plays more like a conventional third-person action title, with the camera rooted firmly behind Geralt. Combat also takes place in real-time, which means you can’t pause the action to queue up attacks a la Dragon Age.Magic all the way
Playing as a ‘Witcher’ has advantages, one of which is proficiency in the dark arts. This allows Geralt to master magical signs and use them to his advantage in battle. You can set your enemies on fire, fling them off cliffs using telekinesis, set magical traps, or even hypnotise them to become temporary allies. Playing a Witcher is empowering, no doubt, but this doesn’t mean you’re invincible. Even on the normal difficulty, Geralt can die extremely easily. This is partly due to the fact that health potions cannot be consumed during combat.
We had a minor gripe with the inventory system though. Most games allow players to compare traders’ wares with their equipped weapons, as well as those present in their inventory. In The Witcher 2, you can only compare purchasable weapons with those in your inventory.
We also found it odd that Geralt was never penalised for strolling into people’s houses and taking their belongings.
Visually, this game is sublime, and will bring even the most powerful rigs to their knees. The game world has been painstakingly designed and every chapter brings with it diverse and scenic locations to explore.
The game does have shortcomings. It can be a bit intimidating to newcomers with its erratic difficulty and steep learning curve. Other issues involve combat, the inventory system and annoying segments with brain-dead friendly AI. But all that’s balanced out by a solid adventure backed by stellar production value, intense and challenging gameplay, diverse quests, and an engaging plot.