Reviews: The Witcher 3 Wild Hunt

An Awkward Juggling Act

The "Witcher" games are unusual among game series because they delivered a mediocre initial title before winning international acclaim with a sleeper hit sequel. However, what won much of their popularity was their dark themes mixed with choice and consequences with lives and rights all depending on the player's views of justice and judgement. The first two games leave open-ended conclusions that branch out into a variety of different world states. With such a vast amount of choices, there posed the question, could Witcher 3 execute a satisfying conclusion to all of these plot threads? Short answer, they didn't.

Long answer, the duality nature of their previous games worked against them. The first Witcher game was a fantasy with light political themes, while the second game had a heavy focus on political goals with fantastical means acting as a tool to achieve them. Witcher 3 struggles to meet both sides halfway, before figuring its easier to go in a completely different direction, and that direction's name is Ciri.

Never mind that Ciri was scarcely mentioned in either of the previous titles but her very existence railroads Witcher 3 to being about her and as a result, other elements of the story suffer. The Wild Hunt goes from a mythical, unstoppable wraith army to space elf pirates on steroids. The war against Nilfgaard is downgraded to a political backdrop and can be completely ignored as early as after the first act. The deciding factor of the war is a skippable sidequest that requires very little effort on the part of the player. I was "legally" allowed to kill only 3 Nilfgaard soldiers in the entire game and they were part of, you guessed it, a sidequest. Even the dreaded White Frost is clumsily addressed at the last minute when a certain character does some kind of magical nonsense and suddenly the plot is resolved.

Witcher 3 also has useless subplots that go nowhere like the witch hunters which explore a concept that their rivals, the Dragon Age series have done ten times better with more perspective.

I admit I'm accentuating negative. Plots like the Ladies of the Wood and Defense of Kaer Morhen, as well as many of the sidequests are entertaining and so is Ciri. But where Witcher 3 succeeds as a game in its own right, it fails as a sequel and that left many players, including me, disappointed.