The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

Gameplay screenshot from The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

Witcher 3 is an open world third-person role-playing action game that is based on a fantasy novel series. Witcher 3 is the third game in the Witcher trilogy. It picks up after the ending of Witcher 2, in which the protagonist, Geralt of Rivia, a monster hunter known as a witcher, attempts to reunite with Yennifer (his friend and lover) and Ciri (his adopted daughter) who are currently chased by a mysterious antagonistic group called the “Wild Hunt”. Players play as Geralt and fight against both monsters and humans using his swords and magic powers called “Signs”. Apart from the fulfilling the main storyline, players can also embark on the numerous side quests strewn across the huge world or play Gwent, a card game unique to the world of Witcher.

Video of gameplay:

Lens Analysis

  1. Lens of Elemental Tetrad
    1. Story: Witcher 3 has a compelling main story that is brought across with excellent narrative, making it one of the strongest aspect of the game. The story is complex and non-linear (player’s choices can affect the ending), and has numerous plot twists and unexpected moments. The unconventional story serves as a main drive for the game.
    2. Aesthetics: Witcher 3 at the time of its release, had one of the best graphics for a video game. There is realism in the movement of environment objects (eg. grass), and especially in Geralt’s A special aspect is the subtle changes to the screen hue with respect to the player location, such as a dark and dull hue when in a haunted village, or a highly saturated hue when in the heart of a lively city. These works very well in enhancing the storytelling aspect of the game.
    3. Mechanics: The game does not encourage the “hack-n-slash” playstyle, and often, players are required to use signs, potions and skilful manoeuvres to defeat enemies. This plays well with the overall idea that the world is dangerous and survival does not come easy, and ensure that players do not easily get bored of the combat system.
    4. Technology: The game makes use the keyboard and mouse assets very well, such that even with so many controls for combat (five available signs, two secondary weapons, two swords, dodging, parrying etc) players do not normally have to move their palms to be able to fight comfortably. The game cleverly slows the game time while players access a wheel to change signs so that no extra keys have to be allocated to the all the signs, and players have sufficient time to switch between signs
  2. Lens of Emotion
    1. There are many surprises hidden away in the world. For example, while travelling in the game world, the player may come across mysterious blood stains and monster tracks on the forest side trails. This invokes excitement, fear and curiosity in the player – should the player move on or take a risk and investigate the source? These instances are not explicitly displayed on the map nor in the quest guide, and can only be discovered through exploration, which enhances the excitement and novelty of every encounter.
    2. Witcher has a very strong narrative accompanied by excellent voice-acting that brings out the emotions of and dynamics between the characters very well. In one of the expansion content, Heart of Stone, Geralt takes part in a wedding in the village and the combination of uplifting ambient tunes played by the musicians, gossips from the maidens and funny dialogue exchanges with drunk guests creates a very lively and happy atmosphere, invoking happiness in the player.
  3. Lens of Freedom
    1. Being an open-world game, players are allowed access to almost the entire game world even without following the storyline. Players are not constrained to the storyline quests and are free to roam wherever they want or do whatever they want to at any point of the game.
    2. Apart from just plain exploring, players can find hidden treasures or guarded stashes, clear out (challenging) monster nests and discover other countless places of interests found in the very big game world.
    3. When players get bored of the constant combat and questing, they can play a strategic card game, Gwent, or take part in many mini games such as fist-fighting, horse racing etc.
    4. There are no hard and fast rule on how to ace the game. Players are free to choose their preferred style of combat and then add skill points or buy gears that cater to or enhance that combat style.
  4. Lens of Meaningful Choices
    1. The strongest aspect of Witcher lies in the myriad of choices that the player faces. In many cases, players are faced with a moral dilemma; Should you pardon a bandit (who pleads for your mercy and promises to turn over a new leaf) or kill him in distrust? Do you reprimand your daughter for being brave and risking her life to save others, or encourage her bravery? Would you choose the girl that stuck with you at your lowest, or choose the love of your life? Every choice matters – it changes your reputation and how people treat you, and the more major choices affects the story progression and eventually the ending.
    2. Many a times, there is no right or wrong for any of the choices you make, which makes every decision a lot more interesting (or frustrating).
    3. Apart from moral dilemmas, there are also numerous times where the player’s choices are based on his level of observation and judgement. For example, if a player does not pick out clues from the messages and dialogues carefully, he might get tricked into a decision that might negatively affect him or other characters.
  5. Lens of Essential Experience
    1. The game does a very good job in creating the immersive experience of being in a fantasy-mediaeval world.
    2. First, the level of detail put into the level design of the world is excellent. The buildings, structures and scenery are very relevant and accurate to the representation of the mediaeval era. Cobblestone floor, stone buildings in the richer district and wooden houses in the slumps. Even the interior design of every accessible building is done intricately. When walking through the streets and accidentally bumping into other NPCs, the collision is visible and the NPCs will react to it (such as shouting or scolding). This contributes to a very immersive and lively game atmosphere.
    3. Monsters roam freely in the wilderness, and unexpected encounters with them enhances the fantasy aspect of the Witcher A player can be travelling near a cliff when a wyvern lets out a cry and flies overhead, or be gathering herbs in the woods and suddenly encountering a Leshen, a powerful tree monster.
    4. Lastly, the Witcher world highlights the dynamics and politics between the difference races very well. Throughout the game, players will interact with elves, dwarves, sorceresses and different factions of armies. For instance, there is a sense of distrust between elves and humans due to feuds in the past, and discrimination against dwarves by the humans and thus dwarves are often only found in the slumps of the village. These dynamics creates a fantasy world that has depth and seemingly mirrors the real world, creating an even more immersive experience.

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