The story focuses on you, Witcher "White Wolf" Geralt, one of a roving band of mercenary monster hunters. The crumbling fortress of their once revered clan has been attacked and the secrets behind your mutation abilities are stolen. It's your job to find a way to recover the secrets before they are put to nefarious use, all while finding out about your past and that of your dwindling clan. It's perhaps not the most exciting premise, but the presentation and pacing of the story is excellent throughout, from the lengthy opening cinematic even to the hand-drawn screens that guard the transitions as new areas load into memory. Most noteworthy are the cutscenes, which have been storyboarded and edited with real cinematic flair and, together with the voiceovers and script, make The Witcher one of the best examples of interactive fiction we've enjoyed.
Those who like to spend hours rolling characters and selecting facial furniture might be upset to hear that you get what you're given. Geralt is square-jawed, with cat-like eyes, white hair and a face that's endured more stitches than a Bangladeshi T-shirt factory. You can't even change his name. Customisation comes later, with experience points turned into coins, which can be spent on new and upgraded skills. There are no character classes to speak of. The Witcher is a master swordsman, with disciplines that vary from heavy-hitting armour twattage (our term), to fast attack and dealing with groups. You spend your bronze, silver and gold experience coins on specialising in these, either using your normal Witcher's sword, or your silver one.
As you learn (or, rather, re-learn, since you seem to be forever recovering from amnesia), spells in the form of "signs" become available, which can be upgraded in the same way as your fighting and attribute skills. And as you find and read books and scrolls, your in-game info repository allows you new abilities and to take on new missions.