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Video Game / The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings

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"Life is never easy for one accused of regicide."

Geralt: I suppose your Excellency will now tell me what the future holds?
Shilard: No, Witcher... I sense you will tell me.

The sequel to The Witcher video game and second RPG to be set in The 'Verse of The Witcher franchise. Released on May 17, 2011, it brought with it a brand new game engine with shinier graphics and new game mechanics.

The story opens with the assassination of Geralt the Witcher's current employer, King Foltest, and Geralt being pegged as the prime suspect. Now Geralt must clear his name by bringing the real Kingslayer to justice. However, Geralt soon realizes there is far more at stake than simply hunting down an assassin of kings, as he is once again drawn into the political scheming of those who wish to seize power for themselves. To complete his quest, Geralt must join forces with one of two potential allies; Vernon Roche, the noble, but hotheaded and impulsive leader of the Blue Stripes, an elite Temerian Army special forces outfit; or Iorveth, a cynical and violent, but well intentioned elf who leads the last remnants of the Scoia'tael.

The game was originally released on PC, on May 17, 2011. On April 17, 2012, the game was released on Xbox 360 as The Witcher 2: Enhanced Edition, with approximately four hours of additional content and 33 minutes of extra cutscenes. The Enhanced Edition content was also made available to PC owners of the game through a free patch.

Followed by the final entry in The Witcher game trilogy, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt.

The game provides examples of:

  • Acrofatic: Henselt is fat but avoids Adipose Rex by being more muscle than fat. Many soldiers say that Henselt was an accomplished fighter not shirking from any battle and turned to lavish lifestyle only recently.
  • Adrenaline Time: Used during the Enhanced Edition's new intro depicting Letho's assassination of Demavend.
  • And Now for Someone Completely Different: Depending on what route you take through the game, you may briefly take control of Roche, Iorveth, King Henselt, Prince Stennis, or Auckes. Plus, you'll play as a certain selection of participants in the first Battle of Vergen when you're trying to break the curse in Chapter 2.
  • Anti-Frustration Features: Killing monsters now counts as research, with three kills required for full research. Geralt can still find documentation that provides all the information he needs to effectively slay monsters.
  • Affably Evil: The Nilfgaardian ambassador Shilard Fitz-Oesterlen is very polite around various influential people and has civil conversations with them which show how well educated he really is on matters about the Northern Kingdoms. However, he is also very crafty, tricking people into revealing crucial information simply by asking them a few seemingly trivial questions. He even has the guts to subtly taunt Geralt in King Henselt's camp about Triss while talking about a statue with beauty trapped within, the significance of which becomes clear to Geralt only later in the story.
    • Letho is surprisingly soft-spoken and polite compared to his thuggish, brutal appearance. He keeps reminding that he has no personal grudge with Geralt, and that he can avoid any conflict between them just by walking away.
  • Almost Dead Guy: Ciaran on the barge, explaining Letho's betrayal.
    • Cedric becomes one as well.
  • Always Save the Girl: Twisted every possible way
    • Siding with Malena will earn the player only more trouble, while she is guilty of her charge.
    • The ending forces player to choose which girl he wants to save. Depending on the earlier choices, the full roster includes Triss, Anaïs, Philippa and Saskia and most of them are mutually exclusive. Triss is always saved by Letho if Geralt decides to save someone else and Roche can secure Anaïs alone, but this seriously affects the Modular Epilogue.
  • And I Must Scream: A truly horrible one happens to Triss, when she's transformed into a tiny figurine. It's described as every bone in your body being shattered and compacted... and returning to full size is even worse.
  • Anti-Villain: Letho, the eponymous assassin of kings, turns out to be doing all the dirty work under the order of the Nilfgaardian empire so his fellow witchers (who are heavily discriminated against in the south) can have a safe place to live.
  • Arrow Catch: Geralt can even deflect them back at his enemies.
  • Art Shift: The game has a generally realistic look to it, except whenever a flashback plays. Those take on the appearance of a gritty comic book.
  • Asshole Victim:
    • The kings that are being targeted for assassination aren't really the nicest people. A big theme in the game is whether or not letting these jerks get what they deserve is worth the chaos their deaths cause.
    • King Radovid has Philippa captured and blinded out of suspicion of conspiring against him. This could have qualified as a potential Moral Event Horizon if not for the fact that she had previously taken control of Saskia and conspired to set up a sorceress oligarchy in Upper Aedirn.
    • Letho's killing of Demavend. The event causes a lot of problems throughout the Northern Kingdoms, but admittedly, the guy was a cruel and unjust ruler who was especially guilty of persecuting nonhumans.
  • Attack Its Weak Point: The Kayran conveniently has glowing "tumors" to indicate where you should start hackin' with your silver.
  • Audible Sharpness: Played straight throughout, but particularly when Geralt is facing execution in the Nilfgaardian camp in Chapter 2 on Iorveth's path - the blade "sheens" while going slowly through the air!
  • Back-to-Back Badasses: During Iorveth's path.
  • The Bad Guy Wins: No matter the choices made, and whether or not Letho is spared, he succeeds in his mission to destabilize the Northern Realms, throwing them into chaos and in fighting, softening them up for invasion by the Nilfgaardian Empire.
  • Badass Normal: Vernon Roche and Iorveth. Neither have any magical abilities, neither lets that stop them from racking up an incredible body count.
  • Bag of Spilling: Pretty much averted; Geralt starts off knowing all his Signs and equipped with plenty of basic Alchemy formulas. He doesn't have any of the combat style changing from the previous game, but that's just because the combat engine is different. If you imported a save, you can even bring in artifacts from Witcher 1 like Raven's Armor or Aerondight, giving you better starting equipment for the prologue (they are nerfed from literally legendary items made using Lost Technology to just barely better than standard issue, though). You don't get to keep those 8000 orens, though.
  • Bald of Evil: Bernard Loredo. Seriously, the man is a bastard.
  • Batman Gambit: Letho's plan to kill Foltest as revealed in the epilogue relied on him knowing that Foltest would try to reclaim his illegitimate children as well as the fact that children would be withdrawn to the chapel for sanctuary in case of a siege, which would naturally make Foltest go there to reclaim the children.
    • Harpy traps are such, in a manner of speaking. Successful use of them depends on their magpie-like tendencies, bringing the bomb to their nest where it explodes.
  • Bestiality Is Depraved: Aside from the "Sackful of Fluff" sidequest, Sheldon Skaggs delivers this line in Vergen.
    Sheldon: Have we? Do pigs have tight arses?
    Zoltan: To tell the truth, I've no idea, Skaggs.
    Sheldon: It's just a saying.
    Yarpen: You're the only one using it.
  • Big Bad Ensemble: Letho of Gulet, Philippa Eilhart, Síle de Tansarville.
  • Big "NO!": If Geralt doesn't save Sile from her Karmic Death, this is the last thing she does.
  • Bittersweet Ending: At the end, Geralt reunites with Triss and recovers the rest of his memory. Unfortunately, regardless of all his past accomplishments, Nilfgaard begins its expansion into the now chaotic Northern Kingdoms.
  • Blessed with Suck: The elf Cedric is afflicted by visions of the future. He has no control over this ability, and some of his visions are so horrifying that he tries to suppress them by drinking heavily.
  • Boring, but Practical: Aard is the most boring sign (simply being Force Push). It can also stunlock enemies by knocking them down (with knockdown + heavy slash spam being a viable Dark Mode tactic), and possibly daze them for a One-Hit Kill.
  • Bragging Rights Reward: The Kinslayer equipment, obtainable only in Dark Mode in the last chapter. Looks badass and has the best stats of any weapons or armor in the game, but the shorter length of chapter 3 significantly limit its use.
  • Brainwashed and Crazy: The dragon Saesenthessis AKA Saskia. Depending on the choices that Geralt makes, she can be freed of her curse, get mercy-killed, or left to be used as a tool for sorceresses.
  • Break the Cutie: Implied to happen to Anaïs over the course of the game. First, she sees her father get murdered before her eyes. Sometime later, her brother is killed and she gets kidnapped by Dethmold. She ends the story wanting Roche to take away her toys and teach her how to fight. Kids in the Witcher have to grow up fast.
  • Break the Haughty: Plenty of haughties get broken in the course of the game, from kings to sorcerers.
  • Call-Back: In the prologue, Geralt is informed of the capabilities of the ballista by King Foltest. This later comes to attention when Roche expresses concern of Loredo's owning of the weapon and is surprised by Geralt's knowledge of its powers, who repeats Foltest exact lines.
    Vernon Roche: Where did you learn about ballistae?
    Geralt of Rivia: I knew someone who knew a bit about them.
  • Catchphrase: Geralt's, "Mhm".
  • Chekhov's Gun: In Chapter 2 of the Iorveth path, the Rose of Remembrance Triss took in Chapter 1 is used to help cure Saskia of her poisoning. Or rather, to put her under the control of Phillippa.
    • Also in Chapter 1, there's a throwaway line from Sile about her having contracted Zoltan for crafting a crystal focus for a bit of magicking equipment, noting that it has to be very precise to work properly. This comes up again at the end of the game when Letho swapped out Sile's good focus for one with a hard-to-detect flaw.
  • The Chessmaster: The Nilfgaardian ambassador Shilard and pretty much every sorceress in the game or at least the members of The Lodge. However, every single one of them gets outplayed by Letho.
  • Chronic Backstabbing Disorder: Malena. First of all, she lured those soldiers into a trap. When she's captured, Geralt may interfere and investigate her case. He can either cover for her, which will earn him her betrayal or tell the truth, but then go with her claim, visit the spot with soldiers and get betrayed again. While the latter is justifiable, covering for her only to get into an ambush is really ungrateful.
    • One would think Letho will rest after betraying both Iorveth and Sile, and settle with his alliance with The Nilfgaardian Empire... until the ending, when in one variation he fights through an entire Nilfgaardian military camp to secure Triss. Though this is justified by Wild Hunt, where it is revealed no matter the outcome if Letho survives Emhyr goes back on his word and tries to have Letho killed, thus in this ending Letho is breaking a deal he likely already knew someone like the Emperor wasn't going to keep anyways. Especially given he is a highly intelligent and cunning southerner who would know Emhyr's reputation and character better than most, and he and his fellow Vipers were strong armed into the entire arrangement by Emhyr's Nilfgaardian Secret Police in the first place.
  • Clear My Name: The main plot of the game.
  • Cluster F-Bomb: Man in the prison during the prologue.
  • Combat Pragmatist: Geralt and witchers in general are supposed to be this, and if you don't want the game to kick your ass, you the player will be forced to as well. Simply relying on swordplay isn't enough, you need to juice yourself up with potions, oil your blade with nasty substances, lay traps, toss bombs, turn enemies against one another and so on. Learning to be the guy who brings a grenade to a sword fight is a big part of the game.
  • Comic-Book Fantasy Casting: Letho is quite clearly meant to be played by Big Arnie in the live-action adaption. Size, intelligence, Obfuscating Stupidity, accent and characteristic gap between the front teeth, it's all there.
  • Contractual Boss Immunity: Boss enemies are immune to instant kills.
  • Corpse Land: There are some that come complete with skeletons and evil spirits.
  • Covert Pervert: Roche. While carrying a fainting Triss from an ambush, he takes solace in the fact that he'll die holding a nice ass, despite her protests.
  • Cutscene Incompetence: It's so obvious that the huge, armor clad monk conveniently located in the one place Foltest would 100% be might be up to no good that it is painful. Also, in contrast with the first game's ending cinematic, Geralt doesn't think of casting a Sign or throwing a dagger or even shouting a warning.
  • Cutscene Power to the Max: Combat Acumen adds this as a gameplay mechanic. Building up the adrenaline bar to its maximum level allows Geralt to perform One Hit Kills on groups of enemies at the press of a button. While it doesn't work on bosses, it does work on certain larger monsters, which can turn the fights into walkovers.
  • Cycle of Hurting: One of the biggest criticisms of the game prior to it being patched - the Endregas in Chapter 1 could easily knock Geralt to the ground mid-swing, then simply swarm over him while battering him down.
  • Dark Is Not Evil: When dealing with succubi, trolls, and other such monsters, Geralt can kill them... or hear them out to see if they've been wrongfully accused, or have a larger reason for their poor behavior. Crosses over with Humans Are the Real Monsters more often than not when it comes up.
  • Dead Star Walking: Foltest shows up in a lot of promotional materials, but he does not make it past the prologue.
  • Deconstructor Fleet: Much like the rest of The Witcher materials, being in a low-fantasy setting would fucking suck.
  • Depraved Homosexual: Dethmold. Despite spending the vast majority of the game being presented as a formidable mage, working on your side — his villanry is revealed in chapter 3, alongside his sexual persuasion. A sex slave, sex toys, and general feminine behaviour are thrown in just to make doubly sure we 'get it'.
  • Dictionary Opening: The Hope trailer.
    WITCHERS, so called by the Nordlings (q.v.), were an elite and mysterious caste of warrior-monks. They are portrayed in popular lore as posessing magic powers and superhuman abilities. W. were believed to combat evil spirits, beasts and all manner of dark forces. In reality (...) w. served the monarchs of the North in the tribal wars they waged against one another.
  • Dual Wielding: Geralt wields both his swords in one of the flashback cutscenes and in some of the Combat Acumen finishers.
  • Early Game Hell: One of the worst examples of its generation. It was so bad that it required a tutorial patched because of how hard it was.
  • Escape Artist: Iorveth, though on several occasions he requires Geralt's help.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: When the Nilfgaardian Emperor Emhyr var Emreis finds out about ambassador Shilard's plan to assassinate Geralt in chapter 3, he sends secret orders to the Nilfgaardian captain in Loc Muinne to eliminate Shilard who in his view has become too reckless and has thus outlived his usefulness. This action has likely to do with Emhyr's close friendship with Geralt in the past, and Shilard even mentions earlier that Emhyr was moved to find out that Geralt had returned.
  • Evil Old Folks: The Nilfgaardian ambassador Shilard.
    • Also Loredo's elderly mother who spends her days making drugs and helping her son abuse a kidnapped elven woman. Getting stabbed by her is possibly the most inglorious death in the whole game.
  • Evil Sounds Deep: The Draug, the spirit of a leader who died while experiencing the rage and suffering of a battlefield, takes this trope up to eleven.
  • Eyepatch of Power: Iorveth, though Geralt can have a conversation with him where he doesn't wear it.
  • Eye Scream: In the third and final chapter, on Iorveth's path, Phillipa is taken into custody and has her eyes put out... with a medieval equivalent of an ice-cream scoop. You even get to see the after-effects.
  • Fan Disservice: There's an Optional Sexual Encounter. A nice romantic bath with soft lighting and lots of roses all around, a gorgeous redhead, a really cool stripping scene... followed immediately, just so you don't get too excited, by a close-up shot of a corpse with flies buzzing around it... of course then it cuts back to the love making.
    • Also, if you pirated the game, the sex scene is with an old woman.
  • Fantasy Counterpart Culture: The depiction of the Kaedweni in the game, at least in the English dub, is an obvious analogue of the Scots without delving at all into the common kilts-and-bagpipes cliche. The common troops encountered on Roche's route have Scottish accents, and King Henselt's royal line is called the line of the unicorn—the unicorn being also the national animal of Scotland.
  • Felony Misdemeanor: In Vergen, Geralt confronts Cecil Burdon over something that would get him disgraced - Cecil is The Teetotaler, which is completely taboo in Dwarven society.
  • Foreshadowing: While the dragon is attacking in the prologue, Foltest wonders if it's possible to train a dragon. By the end, the sorceress, Philippa Eilhart, manages to take control of that very same dragon, who is none other than Saskia.
    • Shilard's casual comment in King Henselt's camp to Geralt about a statue with a beauty trapped within actually refers to Triss who was turned into a statue and later taken captive by the Nilfgaardians led by Shilard himself.
    • Iorveth path's big reveal in chapter 2 is foreshadowed several times throughout the game:
      • In the prologue, Roche is puzzled by the fact that the dragon is only attacking his men
      • In chapter 2's intro, the priest Olcan warns prince Stennis of Saskia, claiming he saw her in a dream as a snake-like demon
      • Saskia's title is a very subtle one
      • While speaking to Iorveth in Vergen Geralt wonders why would the Scoia'tael will fight for a dh'oine, to which Iorveth replies: "Saskia? She's no dh'oine. Certainly not like the others."
  • First-Episode Twist: The death of King Foltest towards the beginning is what kick-starts the plot.
  • Gambit Pileup: And how! The only real winner is Emperor Emhyr.
  • Gameplay Ally Immortality: NPCs have this when they accompany you on quests. Which is useful, as they'll keep enemies distracted.
  • Gameplay and Story Segregation: Sometimes Geralt can't use his Axii sign in situations where it would make perfect sense. For example, he has to search a sedative to calm a hysterical man in a haunted ruins of a mental hospital, rather than just use the sign meant to calm and influence people's minds. Also, he forgets how to parry arrows in the Nonstandard Game Over examples below.
    • On the other hand, he can use Axii in certain conversations, provided he practices enough to level up using it as a speech ability (alongside Intimidate and Persuade). Geralt can also use some of his other signs in non-standard contexts; one of his sword finishers is toasting an enemy with a little fire, and he can use Igni to light or extinguish torches like a light switch.
    • In the prologue of Chapter Two, even if Stennis has taken no damage from Henselt, the ensuing cutscene shows Henselt getting Stennis on the ropes before everything goes to hell.
  • Genius Bruiser: Letho.
  • Girl on Girl Is Hot: Noted by various characters in regards to Phillipa Eilhart.
    "Ah, my favorite type of magic: Lesbomancy!"
  • Glass Cannon: Equipping the Dark Mode Outfits turn Geralt into this. He can diss out absurd amount of damage but normal enemies still hit you for a third of your health bar and bosses can outright One-Hit Kill you.
  • Greater-Scope Villain: Emperor Emhyr var Emreis ends up being revealed as this for the main plot of the game, as the power behind Letho and his actions.
    • In the backstory as Geralt remembers his past, Eredin Bréacc Glas, the King of the Wild Hunt, is set up as this as well, having been the one responsible for Yennefer and Geralt's kidnappings and amnesia and being in pursuit of the Elder Blood in the form of Ciri.
  • Grey-and-Grey Morality: Deciding between Roche and Iorveth... almost every major choice is grey in some way.
  • Groin Attack: Geralt of Rivia can deliver these during quicktime brawls, and in some scenes onlookers will randomly tell you to.
  • Guide Dang It!: It's not possible to completely finish the quest "From a Bygone Era" in Act 3, unless you decide to search a certain unassuming wooden shack near the Kaedweni camp in Chapter 2, and even then you need to know that the barrels behind it hide a cellar entrance. This is especially difficult to those who choose Iorveth's path, since this is the only thing of any interest on the other side of the wraith-mist apart from the main quest, and is possible to completely miss even if you take your time looking around the area you can never return to after completing your objective there.
  • Handsome Lech: Dandelion, best exemplified when Geralt asks him for some help with a Succubus.
    Dandelion: What, you want to see some hoofed hag ride me to death? (Beat) Then again, we all have to die of something.
  • Happy Ending Override: The Witcher ended on a somewhat victorious note, with Geralt restoring order to the Temerian captial of Vizima and helping it forge an alliance with Redania in the process. Not too long in the sequel, though, Foltest is killed and all of Temeria falls into chaos. By the end, it either gets divided up, breaks into Civil War, or effectively becomes absorbed by Redania. And that's before Nilfgaard invades the Northern Kingdoms in the third game.
    • Only one of the endings kind of subverts this leaving one of the royal children on the throne, with Roche acting as mentor. However the invasion of Nilfgaard will happen regardless of your choices
  • Harder Than Hard: The game features an "insane" difficulty, which in addition to being the toughest difficulty in general in terms of damage dealt by enemies and such, also features Permadeath where if you die, all your saved games from that playthrough become inaccessible and you have to start over.
  • Heads I Win, Tails You Lose: Beating Letho in the first chapter leads to him getting the advantage on Geralt before sparing him.
  • Hold Your Hippogriffs: Iorveth considers capturing Loredo's prison barge to be a "piece of lembas", mildly confusing Geralt who apparently isn't familiar with the saying. Doubles as a Shout-Out.
  • Hopeless Boss Fight: An interesting version comes up on the Roche path. It's against you, Geralt, while you're reliving the last few hours of a kingslayer you recently killed.
  • Hypocrite: Many of the human peasants in Vergen. They claim that they want a land without kings and where all people are equal. All people, that is, except for nonhumans, who should just get their own "nonhuman land." Even after you hear those racist comments it's still the most tolerant city you'll see in the Witcher 2, which goes a long way in showing how bad things are elsewhere.
    • Also applies to those Elves who claim the world was a utopian paradise before those filthy humans showed up. Other nonhuman races remember the history a bit differently...
      • In particular, from the Enhanced Edition, the Vran that originally inhabited Loc Muinne, who succumbed to a mutagenic plague unleashed on them by the Aen Siedhe.
  • If It's You, It's Okay: Iorveth claims to find no humans even close to attractive, but has a strong attraction to Saskia because she isn't actually human.
  • I Just Want to Be Normal: Geralt and Triss in the sequel. However, they have to stay involved when Geralt gets framed for Foltest's murder.
  • Incredibly Lame Pun: Geralt to Saskia after he finds out her secret.
    Geralt: I know a woman is flighty, but to that scale?
  • I Owe You My Life: This is why Letho lets Geralt go during the first chapter when Letho gains the upper hand in the duel. It turns out that Geralt saved Letho's life while chasing the Wild Hunt in search of Yennefer.
  • Jeanne d'Archétype: Saskia the Dragonslayer.
  • Jerkass: Prince Stennis. He's quite willing to give his ally, Saskia, to Henselt during the summit with Kaedwen, threatens and constantly demeans Geralt in all their conversations, and refuses to give up some blood in order to save Saskia from being poisoned. Of course, the fact that he's one of those possibly responsible for it probably had something to do with it.
  • Jigsaw Puzzle Plot: There's a lot of political backstabbing going on behind the scenes on multiple fronts. So many that learning them all requires multiple playthroughs.
  • Karma Houdini: Depending on your choices, the following people can get off without suffering any repercussions for their actions: Loredo, Shilard, Philippa, Henselt, Dethmold, and Letho. However, the sequel subverts many of these, as some of these characters end up dying or dealing with other consequences that their actions have wrought.
  • Karmic Death: Sile if Geralt doesn't save her, as well as the Nilfgaardian ambassador Shilard if Geralt chooses to save Triss in Chapter 3.
    • Stennis as well, provided you decide to procure some of his blood over his dead body.
  • The Kingslayer: It's called Assassins of Kings for a reason. Geralt is framed for regicide, which makes him a wanted man throughout the Northern Kingdoms, and he spends the majority of the game chasing the real assassins, a group led by Letho who all happen to be witchers who've hung up their silver swords to kill kings instead. Depending on what choices the player makes, Roche could end up a kingslayer as well, with Geralt complicit in the affair when the former murders Henselt.
  • Kirk Summation: The Temerian lord on the Council of Regents, Baron Kimbolt, has at Geralt with a Hannibal Lecture, chiding him for being a "thug for hire" and such, saying that Geralt enjoys the bloodshed. Geralt tells all about how "valiant" knights reveled in the bedlam in the siege in the prologue, and that the one thing Geralt likes most about being a witcher is that he never has to draw his sword on another's command.
  • Literally Shattered Lives: The Enhanced Edition starts off with a massive dose of this in the new intro movie. The titular kingslayer sneaks onto a ship where a king is having a private festival with jesters, strongmen and so on. He tosses a magic ice bomb at the center of the ship and freezes about 75% of it, including almost all the people, who get crunched to bits in the ensuing fight. Of course, since the freezing was probably not the harmless variety they were dead already.
    • Geralt can do this in-game with a similar bomb, or enchanting your weapon with an Ysgith Rune. Killing a frozen enemy results in them bursting into a million pieces.
  • Love Ruins the Realm: The war is the second time King Foltest's illegitimate offspring cause problems, albeit for different reasons.
  • Loads and Loads of Loading: Averted compared to the first game which was infamous for this. The lengthy opening logos can mercifully be skipped before accessing the main menu.
  • The Lost Woods: The unnamed forest around Flotsam is rightfully feared by the townsfolk, since it crawls with spider-like Endegra, corpse-eating Nekkers, as well as elven guerrillas who will kill any human they come across without mercy.
  • Mad Scientist: Dethmold definitely qualifies with his achievements in forbidden necromancy although he is intelligent enough to behave casually (very sensible thing to do as he is an advisor to a bad-tempered king who has already burned one sorceress at the stake).
  • Magi Babble: Geralt prattles off how Dethmold's amulet works to a skeptical Zoltan when the two are preparing to cross the cursed battlefield in Chapter 2, leaving Zoltan confused.
  • Magic Versus Science: It is contemplated in a conversation that humans and elves are not indigenous of the world they live in but that during a convergence of spheres event humans arrived on metal ships and elves arrived on white ships (some non supernatural monsters apparently arrived in similar fashion hence why they have no real place in the ecosystem) hinting at the fact that, while magic exists in this universe, there are some remnants of a higher tech left behind. Coincidentally, Witchers are mutants, genetically mutated humans to be precise (notice the double Helix symbol in the mutagens menu and the distinctly cellular look of the mutagens themselves which some fans disliked for their sciencey look) created to deal with things normal humans could not (the supernatural) and a lot of well read individuals in the game know an awful lot about mutations and evolution. Sounds like the Witchers might be the earliest attempt of the newly arrived humans to fight back the hostile, unknowable forces of this universe using their own technology.
  • Man Behind the Man: The Nilfgaardian Emperor Emhyr var Emreis is behind Letho. His goal is to destabilize the Northern Kingdoms by putting the blame of the Kingslayers' regicides on the Lodge of Sorceresses, thus getting rid of many powerful northern monarchs as well as sorceresses, which will make it easier for Nilfgaard to invade the weakened kingdoms.
  • Manipulative Bastard: The three wraiths in the Little Sisters quest in chapter 2 plead for Geralt's help but in fact have a far more sinister agenda.
  • Mickey Mousing: In the intro movie depicting King Demavend's assassination, Letho's strikes against the king's defenders are timed with the crescendos of the music.
  • Monster and the Maiden: Seems to be the case with the elf Iorveth and the human leader of the Aedirnian resistance Saskia. Ultimately subverted, when we find out that Saskia was actually a dragon taking a human form.
  • Multiple Endings: When the game launched, there were 16 endings. The Enhanced Edition reduced them by half and changed a couple variants. Both the "Spare/Kill Aryan LaValette" and "Spare/Lynch Prince Stennis" decisions no longer have any influence on your ending. Originally, the "Henselt Live/Dies" decision influenced your ending concerning Anais, but this has been changed to whether you send her to John Natalis or Radovid.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Geralt fails to protect Foltest in the prologue.
    • If Geralt chooses to help Iorveth instead of Roche prior to the first duel with Letho in chapter 1, Loredo's men and the townsfolk start a pogrom against non-humans in Flotsam.
    • If Geralt chooses to believe the three wraiths during the Little Sisters quest in chapter 2, he allows an evil spirit to grow in strength, causes the death of an innocent man, and barely escapes with his life.
    • Roche screws things up in Chapter 1 when he attacks the Scoi'tael while they and Geralt have Letho cornered, which gives the Kingslayer a chance to escape.
  • Nintendo Hard: Many players find this game extremely difficult compared to the first, particularly early on. The enemy AI actively attempts to flank you and damage dealt from behind does double damage, it takes practice to avoid being trapped in a bad situation by enemies. This makes the prologue one of the toughest areas of the game, making the game have a reverse difficulty curve.
    • Thankfully, this got reversed just slightly in the 2.0 patch - you can no longer get interrupted mid-swing by an enemy hitting you from the side, which would generally knock you over for a few seconds prior to 2.0.
  • Non-Standard Game Over: Depending on what you say or do in various situation, it's possible to watch Geralt get killed:
    • If Geralt tries to attack Roche at the end of his interrogation during the prologue, Ves shoots him dead with a crossbow.
    • Likewise, being too rude to Iorveth during the meeting in the Arachas lair gets Geralt shot dead.
    • Getting caught sneaking through the Kaedweni Camp in Iorveth's path results in Geralt getting shot with a crapload of arrows.
    • If you cause too much trouble in Flotsam or Loc Muinne, a guard will come up to you and demand a fine from you. If you refuse to pay it, then Geralt gets gunned down by the soldiers.
    • If you lose a fistfight with a guard while trying to save Dandelion from the gallows, Geralt will be hanged as well.
  • Not Quite the Right Thing: If you follow a traditional video-game Light Sided playthrough (by defending your allies, rescuing girls instead of chasing the villain, and serving the greater good by helping others) you may end up seriously screwing up the world.
    • For example, saving Saskia over Triss results in a bloody pogrom against Witches across the North. Likewise, the two biggest jerks of kings will gain control over much of the country with Loredo getting away with his crimes. Saskia ruling over her little principality is the only bright spot.
    • That said, none of the endings resolve on a fully (or even mostly) happy note. See Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism below.
  • Not Worth Killing: If Iorveth wins his duel with Roche in the first chapter, he decides that Roche is Not Worth Killing.
    • In the second chapter Geralt can persuade Roche to spare King Henselt's life using Not Worth Killing as an argument.
  • Obfuscating Stupidity: Letho looks like a big, dumb oaf, and perceptions of him generally take that mindset at some point. He exploits this advantage every chance he gets.
  • Offscreen Moment of Awesome: One of three will happen in Chapter 3.
    • If you save Triss on the Roche path, Roche singlehandedly storms the Kaedweni camp, killing many soldiers in the process. He fails to kill Dethmold or extricate Anais in time to salvage Temeria, but he nevertheless succeeds in rescuing Annais.
    • Or on the Iorveth path, despite having little to no experience in undoing magical seals, Iorveth still succeeds in opening the sealed chest in Philippa's quarters and acquiring the dagger that could lift the spell on Saskia... just not in time to use it to free Saskia.
    • Finally, if you choose to not save Triss on either path, then Letho will fight his way through the Nilfgaardian camp in order to rescue her for you... just not in time to mitigate the mage pogrom.
  • Old Save Bonus: Importing a save from first game can give you better starting equipment, and various characters will reference choices you made in the last game (the decisions carried on from the previous game are whether you romanced Triss or Shani, the faction — or lack of — you supported in the late part of the game, and the death/survival of Vincent Meis, Thaler, princess Adda, Siegfried, and Yaevinn). For instance, if you supported the Order of the Flaming Rose in Witcher 1, you can have a brief, but friendly conversation with Grand Master Siegfried in The Witcher II, chapter 3. If you romanced Shani in the first game, you'll start the Enhanced Edition of The Witcher II with a journal entry telling about Geralt and Shani's short lived relationship and eventual break-up (to justify Geralt dating Triss anyway at the start of The Witcher II).
  • Optional Boss: Letho is entirely optional.
  • Optional Sexual Encounter: Triss, Ves, an elf woman you save, various Prostitutes, a Succubus, and Cynthia. Triss gets a 4 minute sex scene.
  • Our Dragons Are Different: You get to kill what is possibly the last dragon in the world. Who is also Saskia.
    • There are options to this action, though. Also, it doesn't seem that the dragons are extinct; they've just mostly left beyond the borders of the known world on their own business.
  • Our Elves Are Different: An interesting case. Aen Seidhe consider themselves to fit the old High and Wood Elf archetypes of being extremely beautiful long-lived creators of music and poetry who once ruled during an enlightened golden age, while many humans are presented as ugly, vicious brutes. Of course, the truth is each elf has the potential to be just as much a cruel bastard as any human, if not more so.
    Triss Merigold: "Amazing what the Aen Seidhe built before humans arrived. Elves possess a sensitivity humans can't hope to achieve."
  • Outcast Refuge: The Pontar Valley, a territory disputed by both Kaedwyn and Aedirn, is de facto ruled by a collection of dwarves, elves and human peasants who want autonomy from both nations. With non-humans being discriminated against in most of the Northern Kingdoms, the Pontar Valley has been turned into a safe haven for them to live in relative freedom.
  • Outgambitted: Philippa Eilhart and Síle de Tansarville, so very much.
  • Parrying Bullets: You can get this ability by spending two levels in appropriate skill; you can even deflect arrows straight back at the enemy!
  • Pet the Dog: Oddly enough, Bernard Loredo, the commandant of Flotsam. Call yourself nonhuman and he'll disagree rather quickly.
    • He does want Geralt to do his dirty work, though. Employing a nonhuman to hunt other nonhumans wouldn't make a very convincing argument.
  • Press X to Not Die: However, these death scenes are usually quite funny. Such as Geralt getting killed by an evil drug addicted mother.
  • Public Execution: One mission involves a number of people about to be hanged, including Dandelion- whereas most of the condemned were being executed for collusion with the Scoia’tael, Dandelion is on the gallows for debauchery. Geralt’s goal is to save Dandelion from the rope, getting into a fistfight with the guard in the process. Should he beat the guard, Dandelion will be set free, but the rest will dangle. But if the player should somehow lose the fistfight, the result is a Non-Standard Game Over, in which Geralt will be strung up as well.
  • Punch-Clock Villain: Geralt can find himself in this position on Roche's path. His sympathies are clearly with the nonhumans and people of Upper Aedirn, but he still has to work with Henselt to accomplish his goals and put an end to the Eternal Battle.
  • Rape, Pillage, and Burn: Standard operating procedure for conquered towns. Geralt has the opportunity to stop a bunch of soldiers from doing too much raping, pillaging and burning, fortunately.
  • Refusing Paradise: Played with. After Geralt and Yennefer died during the Rivia Pogrom, Ciri transported them to a private paradise island. Geralt had to will himself back to life from there after Yennefer got kidnapped by The Wild Hunt.
  • Reverse Escort Mission: Phillipa takes owl form multiple times to help you through the deadly mists that are spawning an undead army. Leaving her bubble of protection causes you to take damage rapidly and die.
  • Right Behind Me: Appears to be the last thought visible on the face of King Foltest.
  • Right Through His Pants: Gerald doesn't have a nude model, so he is always wearing his underwear during sex scenes.
  • Ripped from the Headlines: The whole Little Shop of Dreams quest is a stand-in for with then recent subject of designer drugs in Poland.
  • Sadistic Choice: At one point, you have to choose between saving Triss or a major political figure... either Anais in Roche's path or Saskia in Iorveth's. Luckily, Letho saves Triss if you fail to do so.
    • On the other hand, not going to save Triss and choosing Anais or Saskia can result in a vicious uprising against all magic-users in the North, with frequent burnings at the stake. Witchers aren't safe from it either, since they're perceived as magical, and ultimately in the end the mass-burning causes a vast amount of unrest that will only contribute to the fallout from other events. No matter which one you choose to save, there will be repercussions.
    • One can come up in Chapter 1 if you side with Iorveth. Loredo attempts to burn some Elven women to death to prevent Geralt and the Scoia'tael from sailing away. You only have enough time to save them, or kill him to prevent any future nonhuman persecution and his eventual selling of Flotsam to Kaedwen.
  • Scenery Gorn: Loc Muine will be filled with dead bodies in the Enhanced Edition if you don't rescue Triss.
  • Sequel Hook: One of the reasons the ending received some criticism - it felt like there was so much more to do, even after everything the player had gone through.
  • Shoot the Hostage: A possible end for Shilard Fitz-Oesterlen. One problem though: The hostage was what was keeping the responders alive, not Geralt the hostage-taker. After losing his hostage, Geralt simply says "And now you all have to die" and goes to town on the black ones with his steel.
  • Shout-Out:
    • After Saskia is poisoned, Iorveth and Geralt ask what they need to brew an antidote. Phillipa tells them, among other things, a great source of magical power is needed, possibly through one of the twenty rings of power. Iorveth drawls out, "One ring to rule them all..." and Geralt says "Let me guess, then I run barefoot up the side of a volcano."
      • The same chapter features Geralt finding Balin's journal (curiously, split into parts found on three separate dead dwarves) in the rotfiend-infested mines under Vergen. It's a brief chronicle of what occurred in the mine, and ends abruptly with a mention of "Durin's Bane".
    • Joan of Lukomorye mentioned is an linguistic pun on Joan d'Arc and a reference to Alexander Pushkin's Ruslan and Ludmila).
    • One of the books that Síle de Tanserville is mentioned to have bought from a dwarven merchant in Flotsam is called De Vermiis Mysteriis.
    • Also, Geralt asks if Ves joined the army by pretending to be a man, so her old father wouldn't have to go.
    • The final quest in the game is called "Enter the Dragon".
    • You can win a "Princess Xenitha's Sword", a steel sword off a dwarven dice poker sharper in Vergen. It belonged to a "Warrior Princess" before at one point.
      • If you play with the same guy for a plot relevant spear and lose, he'll mention that a guy named Blazkowich tried to get the spear from him earlier.
    • The fist fighting tournament in flotsam has one opponent called "Fliparse." The journal reveals his real name to be Kcorb Ransel, or Brock Lesnar backwards.
    • The guards' conversation in Flotsam: "Some day, all the whores and politicians, wallowing in dirt, will look up and cry, 'Save us!'. And we'll say: 'All right'."
    • The achievement for killing the Kayran is titled "Oh My God! You Killed The Kayran! You Bastards!"
  • Shut Up, Hannibal!: Geralt can distract Iorveth with a rather delicious one in chapter 1.
  • Silver Has Mystic Powers / Thunderbolt Iron: Silver swords. Most of the craftable ones past Chapter 1 involve using Meteorite ore as well.
  • Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism: Many of your decisions are between whether Geralt will support an idealistic (but uncertain) vision for the future based on inter-species cooperation and egalitarianism ("Iorveth's Path"), or defend the oppressive but relatively stable status quo political order ("Roche's Path"). There's no "correct" option- both approaches have serious, often negative repercussions.
  • Stealth Pun: Upon entering Flotsam for the first time, Vernon Roche introduces himself as as "Emhyr var Emreis, spice merchant." Incidentally, that also happens to be the name of the Nilfgaardian emperor, AKA The White Flame Dancing on the Graves of his Foes.
  • The Stinger: The Enhanced Edition adds a scene showing Nilfgaardian forces beginning their northern invasion.
  • Storming the Castle: Happens in the game's prologue, in which Geralt helps King Foltest lay siege to the fortress of his old mistress, Mary Louisa La Valette (who has rebelled against him).
  • Story Branching: The game has a major choice, but it is made fairly early in the game. Based on your choice there, the storyline develops in one of two different ways which only come together again in the final chapter.
  • Succubi and Incubi: The Succubus, naturally.
  • Superboss: The Vran creation known as the Operator, should you manage to complete the "From a Bygone Era" quest in Chapter 3. He's extraordinarily difficult, becoming invincible after he takes a certain amount of damage and summoning incredibly powerful gargoyles.
  • Take That!: One to Assassin's Creed, where in the prologue you can stumble upon the corpse of an Assassin who missed the haystack by that much. You even get a bonus to your backstab damage for finding it.
  • Talking the Monster to Death:
    • In the Enhanced Edition, a new quest involves you encountering a golem. You can fight it out, or you can literally invoke this trope by way of Logic Bomb.
    • It's possible to bluff the ghost of Dun Banner's standard bearer into giving up the standard if you remember key points about the both battle of Brenna and Henselt's prior campaign against Aedirn.
  • Throwing Your Sword Always Works: Geralt has a group finisher where he kills three human enemies by throwing his steel sword at the first, his silver sword at the second, and killing the third one in close combat. He also has a finisher against harpies where he throws his silver sword into its chest in mid-air.
    • Roche also manages to kill an enemy soldier via throwing his zweihander in a cutscene.
    • Geralt can also do this in the first chapter, when he decides to pirate the prison ship with Iorveth. Because our dear freedom fighter is a pragmatic type, he pulls the sword from the still standing guard.
  • Tutorial Failure: The Witcher 2 has a rather lacking tutorial that fails to detail several in-game features properly, as put by Penny Arcade.
    • Version 2.0 has remedied this via adding a tutorial section separate from the main story.
  • Undying Loyalty:
    • Triss, who loves Geralt so much she resolves to help Geralt find Yennefer, even though it will probably break her heart, since she always played second fiddle to her.
    • Vernon Roche. If you take Iorveth's path, where you screw him over, he and his Blue Stripes come to your aid in Vergen without blinking.
  • Ungrateful Bastard:
    • Malena will set an ambush for Geralt right after he willingly covered her against legit charge of being a spy.
    • Geralt's death in a pogrom in Rivia is shown in an early cutscene, where he stays his hand against a fearful peasant, only for that peasant to stab him through the chest with a pitchfork.
    • Prince Stennis is not only unwilling to help Geralt or Saskia in their endeavors despite saving his life at the beginning of Chapter 2, but he also implicitly tries to poison the latter.
      • This can be quite jarring if you took the nice options in the bit where you play as Stennis
  • Useless Useful Stealth: The game has several stealth sections. Unfortunately, the stealth mechanics are clunky at best. Mercifully, most of them are not necessary to complete the game.
  • Villain Forgot to Level Grind: Letho. Your first encounter with him in Chapter 1 is just about the toughest fight in the game, as he can kill you in 2 hits (on Hard difficulty), uses unavoidable/unblockable attacks, and spams a personal shield which absorbs damage. In the finale, however, he's something of a pushover (assuming you have half-decent gear and skills).
    • Though lore wise it makes sense. Letho was at the top of his game during their first encounter, but Geralt was still regaining his skill along with his memory. At his peak, Geralt was possibly better fighter than Letho was, and by the end of the game, he is back at his peak. Thus he can potentially wipe the floor with Letho by then.
  • Walking Armory:
    • Averted compared to the first game. Geralt only equips a steel sword and a silver sword, but has several pockets for bombs and traps (likely due to complaints that the optional weapons were completely useless beyond torches for light).
    • Roche is always seen with two types of swords and a mace.
  • We Used to Be Friends: Geralt and Letho.
  • Welcome to Corneria: Most NPCs have only a few phrases, and the ones that trigger as you pass can get extremely annoying.
  • Wham Line:
    Letho: Your witch is good with magic. Think she'll be able to teleport me to Aedirn?
  • What Did I Do Last Night?: Chapter 1 sidequest "Hung Over" starts with Geralt partying with the Blue Strips in their headquarters. Then he blacks out and awakens naked near Floatsam Harbor, with a tatoo on the neck and no memory about what happened later during the night. After a bit of investigating, Geralt discovers that he went to the brothel with the Blue Strips soldiers and they hired the prostitutes to attempt to cross the river by riding them (it didn't work). The tatoo is a Blue Strips' emblem. Geralt's stuff had been dumped by him during his drunken antics and had been gathered by Ves in a chest inside the headquarters.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: If you import a save from the original game where you spared Adda, expect to get an earful from a certain priest upon reaching Vergen.
  • Whatever Mancy: Lesbomancy!
  • Worthy Opponent: This was the Aedirnian's take on the Dun Banner, going so far as to bury them in the crypts in Vergen.
  • You No Take Candle: Trolls talk like this. They also eschew any proper nouns, referring to themselves as "troll" and others by their race or profession.
  • Your Terrorists Are Our Freedom Fighters: Scoia'tael embody this trope, Geralt even says as much point-blank.

"Something ends, something begins. But the end is never the same."

Alternative Title(s): The Witcher 2