Strictly speaking the Witcher 2 is not a horror game, I’ll give you that. However it is one of the most beautifully realised action RPG’s available, packed with demons, the undead, ghosts and some pretty nasty critters. So while I promise to keep it brief, here’s why any self-respecting horror gaming fan should spend a little time with Geralt of Rivia.
Sequel to The Witcher, Assassins of Kings once again lets you spend thirty hours or so in the shoes of Geralt, legendary monster hunter of Rivia. Only this time the adventure plays out in what can only be described as the finest example of a darkly detailed, passionately crafted fantasy world yet committed to hard drive. CDProjekt have more than justified the wait between games and it’s clear from chapter one onwards this adventure is now the benchmark for new RPG’s.
In keeping with the morally ambiguous corrupt world we were introduced to in the original game Assassins of Kings holds no punches with its characters, stories, quests and dialog. It’s clear the developers have remained true to the source material and targeted a mature audience with plenty of flesh, blood and gore on show with conversations that are as often shocking as they are funny. The combat is vastly improved and brutal along with a trimmed down and easy to use skill tree to develop Geralt as you see fit (Sword / Magic etc). There’s no hand holding here though and throughout the campaign you will die. Lots.
The story is well told and greatly complimented by the genuine ramifications of your in game actions felt throughout the world. Geralt’s decisions not only affect those around him but ultimately the actions of the kings you conspire with. You’ll spend a lot of time simply exploring the unbelievably detailed environments, talking to people, reading books and getting so utterly smashed on vodka you’ll wake up with a horrendous naked lady tattooed on your neck. All the things we want from real life. Plot wise it does get a little Game of Thrones with plotting and backstabbing a plenty but never fails to entertain.
Minor niggles include a clumsy inventory system and a lacklustre alchemy mechanic. Major niggle, well just one – the games third and final chapter is painfully short. Go into it expecting the impressively detailed quests, environments and stories found in the preceding chapters and you like me will be sorely disappointed. Chapter three almost seems rushed as world changing events unfold around you while you seem to sit back and watch as “Epilogue” appears on screen.
That said, The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings remains a fantastically realised, richly detailed, professionally executed, well written mature adventure. One of the best of its kind.
Did I mention it’s got monsters in it?