Sunday, 6 October 2013

Witcher I: In Search of the White Wolf

I think it would be in vain to write how great Witcher I is. It would be in vain to say how the world the game is set in, is dark, story mature, and exposition there for a reason. All that is already well known, and by this time already said over a thousand times. Witcher has low fantasy setting, and uses it to shed light on some of the issues our society is trying to deal with even today. I will not claim, that Witcher I is critique of modern society, because I do not believe it is.

What Witcher I is, is a dark mirror of our time that reflects through game. Corruption, violence, racial segregation, murder, slavery, rich getting wealthier, prostitution, addiction, poor getting even poorer, political games being played behind closed doors. This is only a few things present in the game. But it is not all that bad. You also have people fighting for a cause, helping each other, individuals still serving law and justice when it was abandoned long ago. Yet, if you generalize two entirely different things you are bound to find some similarities at the end.

What is great about Witcher I, is that all those issues are not there just for flavour. A certain issue is not there to just scream from atop of its lung how very bad it is. Prostitutes in Witcher, are not there for player to feel bad about. They are not even there to guarantee a certain amount of exposition. They are there because it suits the period the game is set in. Because it enriches the story being told. By having prostitutes selling their body on corners of the city streets, the game makes itself more realistic.

There are all sorts of monsters. Everything from ghouls, and vampires to wyverns and manticores is present. Yet throughout the game one thing is reinforced time and time again. The greatest, and most dangerous of monsters, are people themselves. Not just humans. Humans, Elves, Dwarves, they are all equal in that. None is above trying to hurt another out pure vile. Just because he or she is able to do so.

There is an interesting talk between Dandelion the wandering bard, and Geralt. Dandelion asks something along the lines, if killing people is easy for Geralt. You as a player have three options. I do not recall them all any longer. What I recall, is my answer. My answer was no. Killing humans was no more difficult than killing monsters. Dandellion's reply was one of disappointment. He recalled that the Geralt he knew would never say that. That I (as Geralt) have changed.

That got me thinking. Have I failed in my role of a Witcher? When did I abandon that high road of neutrality and started deciding for myself what is right and what wrong. Why was it right to kill a knight who wanted to save his sister from whorehouse, and spare the succubi vampires who owned that whorehouse. Why was I willing to work alongside a werewolf? A monster that was terrorising Vizima by night.

I came to conclusion, that there is not only one kind of monsters. Monsters are not only those creatures of the night that act hostile in vicinity of people. Monsters are not only defined by their magical characteristics. Monsters are defined by their actions.

And why is ghoul a monster? Because it eats explicitly dead corpses? Because it prays in graveyards and waits for a corpse to rot enough so he can digest it? But so do ravens given  the opportunity, or even better example, vultures. Why is ghoul eating a dead men so wrong if he did not kill him? Because it is a desecration? But is it not a desecration when a hunter kills a deer, and then skins it clean in front of her cub? Why is one fine and the other not. Is it because people consider them above everyone else?

That might actually be a reason. Monsters are a threat because they are different. Unlike other creatures they do not recognise the superiority of mankind. They treat mankind like they treat everyone else. As a potential meal. This is also why most of the people have mixed feelings about Witchers, calling them monsters on more than one occasion. This is why when you walk the streets, you hear the calls like, here comes the Witcher, hide your women.

It is out of fear. The latter example, out of bawdy. Out of realization that mankind when compared to this "monster" is not superior. Witcher is a skilled warrior, immune to all diseases, has incredible stamina and healing powers. Witcher is that ideal of perfection achieved through imperfecion. No matter what others do, they can never be as good as a Witcher. Because a Witcher, is on a level of his own.

I am soon to finish the first game. At the start of the sixth act, story seems to have reached pinnacle of tension. I can only say that I look forward to the ending and starting with the part two immediately. I wanted to write about how I like fighting styles and their feel. How I love the realism invested in all those suits, dresses and armor. What I think of Alvin, Triss, and Geralt in general. But it will have to wait. Until next time.


  1. I need to go back and play this! I've tried a few times and never made it very far in, but I love the sequel so I think I need to give it another shot. Especially with the third coming out, too.

  2. The Witcher series is awesome. Heck I even liked the Wiedzmin TV series, wish they made more of that. Definitely prefer "Jaskier" to "Dandelion" though (same character, different names based on language). :P


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