Chapter 3 of the Witcher was the story that Chapter 1 should’ve been and let me tell you why….
As I approach ever closer to the end of the first Witcher, I am getting ever more tempted to play the Wild Hunt. So this might mean the pace of my next few Witcher installments might be a little more condensed to aid in how quickly I can review the newest of the trilogy.
I Sense Betrayal
Don’t think my 20/20 hindsight to be too strong, betrayal of some sort has happened every few minutes, but this Chapter had me more skeptical than watching a season of Dexter. The story begins ominously with a party…okay maybe I didn’t say that scary enough. I went to the party in the second floor of a….Yeah it’s just not scary. For a game with ominous creatures and power struggles, the game is getting less and less Grim. I think the word “meanness” is used in one of the scenes. I know that is unrelated but really?? Out of all the words to choose?
Love and Politics
Continuing from the last Chapter, Geralt is faced with choices he cannot avoid, namely becoming more than just a relic of his time. More and more, Geralt is faced with enemies that don’t bear fangs but have….mysterious connections.
Ominous, Metaphor. Nailed it.
We meet the famed princess Adda, a once-cursed girl saved by our Witcher, I think? (Amnesia Joke) In the cut-scene it was told that she was merely a teenager, with the conflicted mind of a girl and a Striga, a fanged monster with a hunger for flesh. To avoid specifics, Geralt is faced with choosing his code or siding on the human/non-human war. Witchers are bound by a super convenient code not to meddle in such affairs, but more often than not, Geralt’s choices in Chapter 3 have consequences or adverse affects on his current relationships. The line between good and bad is not so much as a shade of gray, instead.
Reduce, Reuse, Recycle (Witcher Style)
Unique characters in Witcher seem to be more and more a rarity, but even worse are the repeating environs. I spent the majority of my time going between two districts of the same city and to the same swamp. I wish an Ogre was at least there so I could laugh….but alas there was not.
Witcher does an odd job at making you feel like the main story is incomplete with all the side-quests to fill it in. This would be understandable to a certain degree, but the game comes to a complete halt with necessary side quests. What I mean by “necessary side quests” or NSQs as I like to call them (No I don’t), is that at a certain point in many of the questlines, namely when an investigation is involved, Geralt will say, “I need more evidence to continue”. What that means is that information lies in other quests. However, no leads or connections are made to aid you in where you need to go next, you just have to guess. Without the guide right next me, I would’ve had to just pick up quests until a result popped out. Not exactly the fun I was expecting. How I pushed further was by talking to an elf in the swamp and asking him if he had any jobs for a witcher…..
I GOT HITCHED
Because this Chapter is namely about love an politics, you are given a choice in that exact affair which concerns love, political struggle, and the fight over a returning boy who is as bratty as they come. Skipping the bachelor party, you have to choose sides in marriage and in loyalties, though either choice is ultimately superficial as it does nothing to add text or give reward, it’s more of a moral standing. There are no consequences after marriage, at least in the game, and I didn’t truly see a point in it besides the opposite side giving a rude line of text before changing it entirely like a mood-swing. I immediately laid with another, just to test it (don’t yell at me yet), and nothing changed.
Bugs! Bugs! BUUUUUGGSSS
Returning to the swamp and arising from the city streets, the bugs from Starship Troopers make a surprise appearance for reasons unknown. While I’m glad Witcher wrapped this nuisance up nicely at the end, it was ridiculous how mobs of new enemies appeared at the swamp. Creatures would all spawn in such close vicinity to me and eachother that I would have mobs of enemies chasing me or fighting each other. I just avoided fighting them all together to avoid immediate death. Being a monster hunter and avoiding fighting monsters is a system of reverse psychology that confuses and angers me.
Like I mentioned earlier, Chapter 3 has you adventuring through Vizima again. Most of your time is spent exploring new sewer passages, and the occassional visit to the swamp. Because the only known elf contact lives among druids, I used teleporter to avoid the constant walking, but even then, walking distances and pathing is still blocked off. I’m not sure why they couldn’t move some of these characters, or even just change their text so it doesn’t seem so lazy. Aside from a werewolf endeavor, there was no reason for me to go there. Because there is no fast travel, walking became the most time consuming factor because if it lead to little or no results, I would have to trail back through multiple loading screens or a brutally far teleport to get where I needed to go.
I rather enjoyed the ending sequence to Chapter 3 as it answered some questions and finally had me making progress against my enemies. It was surprising I could be so happy to see rocks as a enjoyable environment, but that could be the 2 years of geology I took in college. And yes, I know it’s “Minerals”. Finding my two main foes, Azar Javed and the Professor, I read in the guide that a book, acquired in Chapter 2, allowed them to be stronger this battle. I checked back to realize I did have the book, so I’m not so sure if they Xeroxed my copy, but it truly didn’t matter. The ending sequences are scripted to have you reach the same satisfying end, at the belly of the beast.
Chapter 3 should’ve been Chapter 1 or at least a condensed part of Chapter 2. New areas were simply extensions of others or copy/pasted and called the “wealthy district”. By limiting areas or simply locking them, the game is lengthened superficially which makes me a sad panda. That being said, Chapter 3 was a perfect example of how a game should be started. You are faced with the factions among you and discover the dangers that come with power. Though the Witcher’s code may prevent Geralt from meddling, I was actually excited to choose a side and have an enemy that goes beyond the Salamandra and the occassional racist. What would’ve made this a perfect Chapter would’ve been ease in travel or at least a change in color palet to show that the world is changing due to the decisions we make. I know Rome wasn’t built in a day and the same goes for video games, but why should I be so used to my environment that I know its weather patterns. I’ll give you a hint: it’s always RAIN.
Note: I won’t be putting up a score for this chapter as I feel it’s the true “Start” of the game. No more build up, were in the Poo now