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The Witcher

When Geralt isn't interacting with townspeople or hitting the shops, he'll hack up monsters in a real-time combat system that emphasizes slick action over pausing and issuing orders, and therefore demands some quick thinking. Since our hero is a one man meat-carving machine and there's no party to manage, the meticulously motion-captured swordfighting takes center stage. A standard steel blade pokes holes in humanoids, while the silver gear comes out for more exotic fare, and each offers an upgradeable set of fast, strong, and sweeping attacks.

Timing your strikes is important if you're going to build up combinations, and while the feel of fighting will see tweaking over the coming months, The Witcher seems eager to avoid the repetitive stress injury pain of a full-on click-a-thon. Five schools of magic put skills like telekinesis and flame strikes on the right mouse button, but they're there mainly for support, like knocking aside a goon to thin the crowd, or throwing up a shield so you can quaff a potion.

It's hard to gauge how the thought-provoking rethinking of fantasy conceits and real-time scraps will go over with a generation raised on Tolkien staples and 20-sided dice, or how much of a community will spring up around the development tools slated for inclusion, but at least CD Projekt is swinging for the fences. Whether it winds up on the best-seller charts, or buried in the bargain bin, The Witcher should at least raise some eyebrows.