Witcher : Enchanced Edition Initial Review

I bought Witcher : Enhanced Edition during the summer steam sale and even though the story line is intriguing enough to keep you going, the clunky combat made me quit soon after chapter 1 ended. Last weekend, I was looking for a “new” game to play on the side with wow, since I’m done with grinding faction rep, and raid only twice a week, and decided to give Witcher another try. So after re-acquainting myself with the story line and the combat, I was surprised that I no longer despised combat like I did 6 months ago.

When I gave it some thought, it seems that the  reason I was put off by the combat the first time I played it in June was because it moves away from the traditional RPG and D&D combat style and strategy. While innovating is not a bad thing and often encouraged, what the game is lacking is a proper introduction to the combat style and strategy. Very early into the game you are dropped in to combat with a few unhelpful tips to beat your opponents. Even after getting used to it, I still find that the combat feels a bit repetitive after you find the same 3 monsters in the swamp in chapter 2, a hundred times, however, it also feels challenging when you find yourself up against a trophy monster you need to figure out how to prepare before engaging it.

The talent tree seems to be completely passive talents. I wish that the game had some active talents – like parry and dodge, instead of making parry completely passive. Even thought we can double tap a directional key (W,S,A,D) to dodge attacks, I seldom use it, since my group style attacks knockdown enemies and dodge also breaks the attack chain, making the dodge useful only at the start of the fight when I am surrounded by enemies and want to get them all in front of me. While I love the alchemy and prepare-for-combat part of the game, I still hate the fact that the most time spent during combat is in waiting for the right time to click for the next combo move. That being said, I am still only in chapter 2, and probably not very far in, so may be as the story proceeds, and monsters become more difficult, I will hopefully find myself doing more than casting one Igni spell, and then waiting for my sword icon to turn into a flaming sword icon, so that I can click for my next chain attack.

Being used to Baldur’s Gate and Neverwinter Night’s style inventory, it took me a while to get used to the inventory management, especially weapons, since you can’t carry more than the number of slots provided in the leather armor. which seems to be limited to 4-5 weapons, of which two will be your primary weapons.  I liked that innkeeper’s allow you to store weapons and items which can be accessed from any other innkeeper in the game. I also found some free storage – non-innkeeper storage in chapter 2, namely in the jail. Unlike Morrowind, things left on the ground vanish after leaving the area, so I couldn’t sell the items in multiple rounds, unless a vendor in the same area. Which brings us to another aspect of the game – Dice Poker. A fun game, easy to learn, possibly difficult to master, which can be used to make money besides fistfighting and brawling in inns. So far, I’m still a novice in dice poker, and haven’t earned a lot of money, but as I defeat more and more opponents, I am finding it hard to believe that the dice rolls are truly random. In one instance, I had a 3 of  kind and the opponent had nothing, however, when I raised the bet, the opponent rolled 4 of  a kind and won the round. If this was a rare occurrence, I would be okay with accepting the loss, however, as I play more and more dice poker, I find such rolls happening more frequently.

Despite all the complaints, the game has a good story line, which according to other reviewers, is very solid until the end. It is possibly the strongest reason or continuing right now, beside the good graphics, awesome attack moves.

The Good:

Intriguing story line, graphics in the enhanced edition, and amazing attack moves during combat. Dice poker provides a fun way to make money. Experimentation in alchemy and its use in preparing for combat, makes combat satisfying when facing challenging opponents.

The Bad:

Poor introduction to new combat style, somewhat cheesy dialogue and NPC interactions, and clunky inventory management.