“The Witcher 3” at the top of its game

An update will have been enough of a pretext to dive back into the sticky universe of the Polish game, which remains one of the richest experiences of recent years.

It’s been almost eight years since “The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt”, the opulent role-playing game from Polish studio CD Projekt RED was released. The game was just updated last December in its ultimate version on latest generation consoles and PC. The update is mainly cosmetic and brings the visual universe up to date with current standards. It also brings some changes to the comfort of play, such as an improved map or a revised camera.

With an essentially cosmetic update, the title has not aged a bit, almost eight years after its release.

It was enough to encourage us to take another tour in this universe of dark fantasy. and to verify whether, as is often the case, the passage of time had not embellished the image and flattered the memories linked to this major game of the last ten years.

And it is clear that the title has not aged a bit. We embody Geralt de Riv, a “witcher”, or rather a “witcher” in French. Those mutant warriorstorn from their families at an early age to follow a sinister training, criss-cross the world for the Get rid of some monsters lurking there.

Centuries before Geralt was born, the medieval world of “The Witcher” indeed came into contact with another dimension which brought about all sorts of paranormal phenomena. Some people have developed magical powers, while many supernatural creatures have taken to tormenting the countryside.

A tough and disillusioned protagonist

Geralt, like a handful of other colleagues, roams the world looking for contracts to exterminate these beasts often fierce. Here, the villagers are terrified by a specter that blocks access to a well. There, a griffin massacres the peasants. Sometimes a farmer asks for help in finding a missing brother on the battlefield.

The witcher must therefore use his skills as an expert investigator on the creatures that inhabit the world as well as his superhuman mutant strength to prevent them from harming them.

Racism, speciesism, criminality, violence and misery… The universe of the game overflows with humanity, in its darkest form.

But unlike a standard role-playing game, we do not embody the savior responsible for preventing a cataclysm that threatens all of humanity. No, Geralt is nothing more than a lone rogue, paid by some noble or farmer to solve very mundane problems.

And the character, disillusioned and cynical, is well aware of the little hold he has on the world. Regardless of his actions, war will continue to ravage the world by order of the powerful, while the population will try to survive starvation and misery. Geralt isn’t here for sentiment, he’s an antihero, one of those badass characters usually found in film noir and thrillers. He no longer believes in any ideal. And he is well aware that the worst monsters, sometimes, are actually human beings.

A universe as dark as humanity

The universe of “The Witcher” is filthy. It overflows with humanity, in its blackest form: racism, speciesism, criminality, violence and misery are the best indication of it. In this dark world, the witcher is looking for his adopted daughter. While following his trail, he will be led to travel a moribund continent devastated by war. And he will struggle not to take sides.

As if to clumsily justify its status as a mature game, “The Witcher” abuses scenes of nudity, designed to satisfy the adolescent fantasies of its supposed audience.

If “The Witcher” shares its fantastic setting with other magical universes like “The Lord of the Rings”, the comparison stops here. In the work of Andrzej Sapkowski, author of the novels from which the game is adaptedthere is never any question of an epic confrontation between a handful of heroes and the forces of evil. No, everything in this universe is all about shades of gray. It is not uncommon, over the course of the adventure, to have to choose between the lesser of evils. And between the plague or cholera, no outcome is enviable. Controller in hand, we regularly regret the consequences of what we hoped to be the least bad way.

If it is difficult to be anything other than laudatory in front of the game, it is however not free from faults. Of those that come with age: the combat system, from another time, is undoubtedly what strikes the most, when it comes to pressing start eight years later. The sensations are far from being at the height of the best games released since. Interactions with the environment are non-existent compared to a “Zelda: Breath of the Wild”. The game also has the annoying tendency to flood the map with a ton of quest markers that will soon drown players.

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Finally, as if to clumsily justify its status as a mature game, “The Witcher” does not hesitate to abuse scenes of nudity and its gritty staging seems uniquely designed to satisfy the teenage fantasies of its supposed audience. More than in turn, the title of CD Project is clumsy. It’s not HBO who wants…

However, it would be wrong to throw the baby out with the bathwater for these reasons. Few games will have managed to offer a universe as hard and materialistic as that of “The Witcher”, which shines with its socio-political subject. Here we go again for a hundred hours of thrills.

“The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt”

Developed and published by
CD Project RED


Available on PC, Nintendo Switch and PlayStation and Xbox consoles

Note from L’Echo:

The Witcher 3 – Trailer VF

“The Witcher 3” at the top of its game