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05/31/2018 16:56:20 •••

Quite the Turn Around

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.

05/29/2018 00:00:00

I disagree with your description that all females were extremely attractive, because you have already provided two examples of quests that involve normal women beyond the age of fifty that are realistically depicted as so.I also disagree with your assessment that Witcher is an unapologetic male power fantasy. Geralt does what he can, but regularly has to rely on the assistance of others to get through different sections of the story. Making a wrong choice can lead to unpleasant conclusions, the main quest in Blood and W Ine can lead to Geralt\'s imprisonment, for example. Compare this to the early installments of God of War, where Kratos generally killed people who could not help him with whatever generic villain he was trying to avenge himself against and only started suffering significant consequences in the final hour of the third serialized titles. If the games you dismiss as sexist only need to fulfill the criteria of male character that is a badass, then you are dismissing a lot of games. I wish there were more game franchises that took female protagonists more seriously (the outfit of Tales of Berseria\'s protagonist made me wince) but its closed-minded to call a game a male power fantasy because it has a male lead that isn\'t immediately subversive like Spec Ops The Line.

I admit I hated sauna, too. I\'m supposed to be playing Ciri\'s adoptive father for most of the game, and then the game gives the player the chance to ogle her half naked. Its jarring and uncomfortable. However, the other scenes involving Ciri are pretty effective because they contrast her chipper tone with the perpetually dour Geralt. She races horses, hunts werewolves, trash talks thugs and has a few tricks of her own to change up the gameplay. The sauna was just a stumble (a painfully awkward stumble) in an otherwise flowing narrative.

I have my own gripes with the story, just look at my review below, but my conclusion was that it didn\'t deliver on promises made from previous games rather than be a bad game in its own right.

05/29/2018 00:00:00

\"Male power fantasy\" doesn\'t mean that the lead doesn\'t end up in a difficult situation or occasionally needing help, in fact that\'s usually prerequisite to establishing how gritty and badass the character is - The previous game starts with you in prison, for instance, but it is only a minor set back before you get let out and go right back to being sarcastic, ladykiller, underdog yet heroic, awesome, mcbadass.

I thought was clear enough in my review, but I\'m not saying that having that badass male character is what makes the game sexist. I\'m saying the sexism of the game is what makes it sexist. That although the game and novels want to offer a criticism of sexism in its setting, it also manages to be sexist by itself, by constantly oggling and sexualising the female characters (and yes, all the actual female characters are sexy. I grant you there are a couple of ordinary looking characters whose roles are so minor I can\'t even remember their names - they barely count).

05/29/2018 00:00:00

What's with this sudden spike of trolling reviews for TW3?

05/29/2018 00:00:00

So now you\'re dismissing female characters based on appearance. Anna was the kindly elderly woman that takes care of a group of children in the woods and she is other central character that is important to the Ladies of the Wood quest, that deep quest you go on and on about. The Ladies of the Wood is important to the main quest, the main plot can\'t continue without finishing it, so Anna is very important to the story. Similarly, Marlene may not be central to the plot, but she\'s an NPC Geralt can regularly interact with once she is brought back to Geralt\'s estate. Geralt treats their interactions very seriously.

You seem to hate sexuality in games. You\'d probably dislike Hakuouki and Nightshade for having too many pretty men. Unless, of course, you just think that any depiction of female sexuality is inherently sexist. If your wife hates female sexuality in games, just stick to stuff like Cuphead or Bendy and the Ink Machine.

05/29/2018 00:00:00

BTW, is Horizon Zero Dawn okay in your book because it is a female power fantasy? The game where the societies are mainly matriarchies and all the villains are men, the mistakes that caused the setting were made by men, and many of the villains repeatedly underestimate the female main character because of her sex, only to give validation to her gender by killing them. Do games have to follow some checklist of progressive depictions or be some sort of insidious material used to entrap society in a sexist mindset? Like I said before, your perspective is close-minded.

05/30/2018 00:00:00

This would go easier if you stop guessing what my arguments are before I make them.

`So now you`re dismissing female characters based on appearance.`

No, I'm criticising how they were designed, and how it undermines the game's own attempts at making feminist commentary; `This society treats its women badly!` vs `now ogle their tits!`

`You seem to hate sexuality in games.`

I hate badly done or inappropriate sexuality in games

`BTW, is. Horizon Zero Dawn okay in your book because it is a female power fantasy?`

No, it`s okay because you fight robot dinosaurs. Come back to me when they make a Zero Dawn game where all the men wear speedos.

`Do games have to follow some checklist of progressive depictions or be some sort of insidious material used to entrap society in a sexist mindset?`

If you are asking me, `would I enjoy a game more if it was less sexist` than yes, I guess that's accurate. I don't recall saying The Witcher was a literal booby trap though.

05/30/2018 00:00:00

\"Come back to me when they make a Zero Dawn game where all the men wear speedos.\"

No. You\'ve got the dress order wrong. Horizon Zero Dawn is closer to Chip and Dale\'s, where men only need to wear just thread to be identified by the color of their outfits, but not enough to cover their abs and pecs. By the way, I like Witcher 3 for its mysteries, its monster hunting, its character interactions, and its various political factions in conflict, even if they don\'t go as far as I\'d like.

I don\'t recall saying The Witcher was a literal booby trap though.

No, but your arguments are really tiresome. I have never decried sexuality in female oriented games. My complaints above never tainted my experience of Horizon Zero Dawn and I only pointed them out to expose your hypocrisy. There is no option in game that allows Geralt to act sexist toward women either. However, by calling the game sexist, you invite a guilty before proven innocent stigma towards games. Bioware has been trying to release gender neutral games, but not everyone has to be Bioware. Horizon Zero Dawn isn\'t Bioware and neither is Witcher 3. That doesn\'t make them sexist for using sexuality to bring in certain audiences.

05/30/2018 00:00:00

I\'m not seeing the hypocrisy; Horizon does not constantly portray its male characters in the nude or in titillating outfits. Horizon does not offer sex as a reward for completing quests. Horizon is not a game that openly criticises sexism against men whilst being accidentally sexist against men anyway. To be as generous as possible to your argument, you occasionally meet male characters who have visible abs (which is hardly surprising given the tribal/aboriginal inspirations to costume design), but these usually aren\'t main characters nor viable romantic options presented to you. It\'s a huge stretch to see The Witcher games and Horizon as in anyway comparable when it comes to representation. To actually get a comparison we\'d probably have to refer to female targeted eroges.

05/31/2018 00:00:00

Nil wears an open vest and Avad doesn't wear a shirt at all. Varl and Sylens wear clothes that hug the body leaving very little to the imagination. Also, women wore corsettes and open cleavage dresses in the time period that parallels the Witcher's setting. Female sexuality was not invented in the 20th century.

You have a rather crude way of describing romance sidequests and optional sexual encounters and you're probably going massively disappointed when the next Zero Dawn sequel introduces love interests, but if you insist on maintaining this Puritan perspective of how gaming media should be released, I ask that you don't drag the rest of the gaming community with you as an attempt to maintain a moral high ground. Its because many games that women like have romantic sidequests and the thing that utterly horrifies you, sex scenes. There are oodles of fanart about Alistair, Garrus, Fenris, and various other female targeted romance interests. Dare I say it, some of it is even erotic.

Horizon Zero Dawn does have a sexist framework that I can expose by copying your cynical attitude toward this game. I write a whole list if you really want me to, but the persistence of this argument is tiresome. I don't know if you're a man trying to white knight the female gender or another gender that really hates female sexuality in games, but a lot of fans disagree with your measurement of good and bad sexuality. You can find such evidence in the many of the reviews and forums for the game praising that it portrays sex in a much less reserved manner.

Again, I suggest you play Bendy and the Ink Machine. It has a woman that is drawn sexually, the fans absolutely hate her, and she becomes a hideous monstrosity obsessed with vanity. This game whole-heartedly agrees that portraying female sexuality in media is terrible. You and your wife will love it.

05/31/2018 00:00:00

I appreciate you have better things to do than read my reviews all day, but once you've finished smashing that puritanical, white knight strawman version of me, have a gander at this:

05/31/2018 00:00:00

You know itís really nonsense? Whenever you post a controversial opinion, you get a million angry people ready to argue with you. But when I do, itís just a ghost town!

How do I get all of these controversy comments?! Give me your secrets, man in a hat!

05/31/2018 00:00:00

Maybe it\'s time to invest in a good hat. Being a man might also help... I\'ve heard that a good way to get there is to be swift as a coursing river and mysterious as the dark side of the moon.

(I\'m not ignoring the actual discussion here... there is nary a pith or insult I can devise to embiggen or ameliorate the hole people who go out of their way to defend cynical objectification, are ever so apt at digging themselves into.)

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