I`ve had nothing but bad luck with The Witcher franchise. I played the first game and utterly hated it. My computer exploded before I had chance to get more than a couple of hours in to the sequel, and I consider the first book in the fantasy Witcher series to be nothing short of terrible. So Iím annoyed to have discovered that by deliberately avoiding The Witcher III: The Wild Hunt for so long, Iíve cheated myself out a fine experience. And a long experience it is too. I`ve been playing this game-of-the-year edition for weeks now and I`m still not finished. Part of that because I\'ve finally realised the main story isn`t very good, and I have been avoiding it. To clarify, The Witcher series is an unapologetic male power fantasy which constantly undermines its own attempts to talk about bigger issues. In The Witcher III, you get situations like one half way through, where you are trying to track down your missing foster daughter. You find a witness who spends the next ten minutes recounting in lurid detail (involving flashbacks) your daughterís naked lesbian sauna trip. Bizarrely, this does not irritate Geralt in the slightest. It does annoy my real life wife though, who has a habit of walking into the room whenever the game introduces another female character, who is inevitably either naked or a decent way there. The Witcher tries to satire its patriarchal, sexist medieval setting, but confuses the message by having even the most emancipated female characters dressed like the Renaissance section of some Ann Summers catalogue. Once you ignore the main quest, which consists of 30 or so hours fruitlessly searching for your absent daughter, you can enjoy a much richer set of scenarios and stories. I`ve just finished helping a woman whoís been turned into a tree. Before that I was dining with a spoon hoarding monster. And before that, I was possessed by a pervert ghost. Best of all is an outstandingly deep, branching side quest where you have to help some despicable yet sympathetic baron track his own lost family. It is infinitely more engrossing and mature than anything that happens in the main plot. Gameplay wise, The Witcher has chunky, gory, functional combat. The game has my least favourite RPG mechanic, wherein everything is a slave to numbers. You might find a particular sword you like, only to swap or sell it for a marginally better one after twenty minutes, because you need a better levelled sword to subtract incrementally bigger numbers from increasingly higher levelled enemies. I`m the biggest badass in the land, but it is somehow impossible for me to use a Sword that is one level too high. For all its faults, I am nowhere near giving up on The Witcher III. I only need one glimpse some gorgeous, rolling medieval landscape to realise that I havenít wasted my money.
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