The Witcher 2 is not good – there I said it.
Back in 2011, many of us were wowed by its charm and mythical setting. However, after nearly ten years, I have gone back to this game to look at it with a critical eye, and my god, what a mess it stands to be.
After an exciting opening prologue sequence where you fight a dragon and are framed for the murder of a king and escape captivity, you are thrown into a semi-open world environment that stands to falsely lengthen the game’s playtime with arbitrary fetch quests and the like.
First off, as far as open-world games go, this game fails in so many aspects. There is no fast travel system, so you can’t go from one place to another without walking there. You can’t mark the map, so if you want to come back to a specific spot you were at before, you have to memorize where it is, a difficult task, given that many of the environments look the same.
When Fighting enemies, the combat is an absolute joke. Many times, as long as you stay at a safe distance away, the enemies won’t follow you.
I won half my fights by just attacking a group of enemies, retreating, waiting for my health to regenerate, and repeating the same process.
The adventuring part of this adventure game is even worse.
When I was following the main quest, things were going well, but the side quests kill this game.
After I talked to a person during the main quest and established a relationship with him, making me a valuable asset for his cause, I then took up a side quest where I met him again.
This side quest had me meet him again, and we talked to each other as if we were meeting for the first time. Were the developers so lazy that they couldn’t program alternate dialog in case you meet him a second time?
Anyway, after I met him for a second time, he wanted me to throw a fight so that he could win by betting against me. I refuse, which causes him to detest me and have him send people out to attack me. Meanwhile, when I am performing the main quest, he’s all buddy-buddy with me.
This is some of the most horribly scripted gameplay I’ve ever encountered in an open-world game.
As for the upgrade system, it is serviceable. You unlock different abilities through a skill tree that you can upgrade with experience points. It’s a decent system; however, you won’t be able to upgrade everything unless you perform all of the side quests, many of which range from descent to mind-numbingly boring.
Another thing that plagues and halts the game’s flow is the ridiculously complicated user interface, most noticeably the item equipment menu. When you are trying to put on a new piece of clothing or accessory, you can’t just click on it and equip it. You have to go through a convoluted process of selecting the space on your character’s body and finagle around with the analog stick until, by coincidence, you happen to click on the item you want to equip. You may think I’m exaggerating, but that is what it feels like.
After 37 hours of playtime, I am still unsure of what I have to do to equip an item.
When a game’s biggest challenge is figuring out how to navigate the menu screen, then you know something has gone terribly wrong.
The story is the only real saving grace here, and while I did like going along for the ride, it is so hard to follow with all the times the character’s opinions on you change on a whim.
The game may have looked the part of a triple-A game back in 2011, but without any substance to back up the visuals and environments that look the same, you’re not going to be invested in it for long.
One thing that was entertaining for a while was the music. The game has great music to fit each encounter, though listening to the same epic battle music every time a minor skirmish occurs can devalue the prodigiousness. There is good attention to detail in the environments; although they can be repetitive, they are still well designed. The crafting system that I mentioned earlier had me enthralled in the game’s collecting aspect since I had to go to many places to collect different items to mix together. However, it was kind of tricky with the samey looking environments.
While I can see the appeal of The Witcher 2 to some people for its well-presented cutscenes and lore, for me, it was a chore to get through.
The Witcher 2 may have a fun nugget of a game hidden deep inside of it. However, it is buried beneath a horrid user interface, insane amounts of backtracking, the inability to mark your map, the inability to fast travel, enemy AI that can’t make up its mind, and scripted sequences that are often played out of order.
The Witcher 2