Since the launch of Diablo, despite all the less successful clones that followed it, the (action) RPG genre has had a steady evolution, quality wise. For instance, The Gothic and The Elder Scrolls series, as well as other titles, did their best to offer players a vast world, both in terms of size and interactivity. Over the years we’ve also had some interesting stories, usually one of main reasons for finishing a game. Moreover, we can safely say that nowadays any self-respecting RPG has to have at least two endings, preceded by a multitude of choices that a player can make to reach said endings. Choices which are usually backed up by interesting NPCs and engaging dialogues. Add to this the atmosphere, created by quality graphics and sound, and you pretty much have the recipe for what makes a great RPG.
I placed The Witcher in this category based on the early details revealed by CD Projeckt, as well as on the trailers and screenshots released during the game’s three year development cycle. My hopes for it went up even further after seeing that both The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion and Gothic 3 unfortunately turned out to be major disappointments in some regards. Being a Gothic fan, I wondered if The Witcher could be considered a spiritual member of the series. And at first glance I would say yes, because the people at CD Projeckt have tried to raise certain RPG standards to a new level and show that you can both develop and play such a game in interesting new ways.
I said earlier that the story is in most cases one of the main reasons for finishing a game (sometimes, the only reason). In this respect, CD Projeckt’s work was made easier by the fact that The Witcher draws its inspiration from the fantasy universe created by Andrzej Sapkowski, a polish writer who is very appreciated in his country and Eastern Europe. The term "witcher" comes from witch, a noun that, just like sorceress, defines a female character who deals with magic, as opposed to the male oriented “warlock”. From this we can determine that the main character of the game, Geralt of Rivia, is a mage with limited magical abilities, but also a mutant, trained for the sole purpose to fight monsters. As a result, Geralt is an expert swordsman, having one made of steel, for human enemies, and a silver sword for fighting monsters and the like. As a side note, the notion of “human enemies” is a bit ambiguous, because it also includes dwarves and elves. However, despite their specific roles, both swords can be used against any enemy, but using them according to their “specification” will bring a swifter end to your opponent.
Getting back to the story, even if you’re tired of fantasy universes inspired by J.R.R Tolkien’s work, you shouldn’t ignore The Witcher on this reason alone, because the storyline has certain touches that give it a distinct flavor and will make you want to see at least one of the three endings. For instance, dwarves and elves are far from being the trusty allies of humanity. On the contrary, they are persecuted and marginalized. Literally, because they are forced to live in ghettos or in lands where there’s little to no civilization. As such, the game’s three endings represent the pinnacle of your choices, which can lead you on three paths: neutral, helping the humans or standing against them.