The Witcher - hands-on

"We are afraid of America," said Michal Madej, chief designer for developer, CD Projekt's latest role-playing game, The Witcher and we understand his concerns. Those unfamiliar with Polish author, Andrzej Sapkowski's fantastical tales of Geralt - a mutant monster-slayer - won't be dying to find out what happened to the famous killer for hire after the end of the short stories on which the game is based.

It's true that many English speaking gamers' will be unfamiliar with Sapkowski's world, and that Western and European tastes can differ when it comes to gameplay. But after spending some time with the latest build of the The Witcher, we think the game deserves the attention of anyone interested in something different when it comes to storytelling and combat.

With so many MMOs vying for our attention, it's easy to forget that role-playing games aren't just about leveling up and collecting loot. They're also about the story, the setting, and most importantly, the choices you make when you step into character to play that role.

These choices are an important aspect of the storytelling process,but according to Madej, the ability to save and reload your game makes it difficult to create situations where your decisions feel like they matter. "Eventually it can destroy any moral problems you have in the game... If there is any situation that needs a decision, they would save the game just before. They will see what is happening with different choices, and probably, they will choose the one that is the most effective. That's why I think that people who're playing role-playing games aren't actually making real choices. Instead, they're testing the designer's vision of what [the] best choice is." continues Madej.

Madej's thoughts on how such a basic feature like saving/reloading can stand in the way of immersing yourself in the game's story and dilemmas rings true with us, as we've tested the outcomes of our decisions from save games before pressing forward countless times. But how will The Witcher differ?