Matt reviews The Witcher

Matt Barton's picture

By popular request, I've decided to review a modern action-RPG called The Witcher. Originating in Poland, The Witcher offers a rich story, great characters, huge leveling system, and intense action-based combat. Check out the review below. Warning: I do make some criticisms of the game here, which seems to be offending the fanboys--so steer clear if you're unwilling to hear about the game's flaws.

Download the mp4.

Buy the Witcher: Enhanced Edition from GOG for only $10.

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Matt Barton
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Joined: 01/16/2006
Clarifying a Few Points

Let me clarify a few things about my criticisms of the game.

First off, I actually did like The Witcher. That's probably why I may seem harsh here, because I can see what it could have been if it weren't for the flaws. It's like a beautiful painting with a gash in the center. It's hard for me to really appreciate the masterwork around that gash.

The translation pains me, but mostly because I'm making a huge assumption that the original is really well done and poignant. For all I know, the original Polish script is just as bad, but I rather doubt it. I'm guessing that by using the translation, we're missing out on far too much of the subtlety and wordplay that was in the original. That's maddening. Of course, it's a problem with every translated game, and probably not so terrible as you see in many Japanese imports. In any case, there's no excuse for obvious typos like "it's" for "its" in the intros! A small thing, obviously, but it makes you wonder if a similar careless approach went into the rest of the translation. If the translators can't even get that right, imagine them trying to get across subtleties of the Polish language or re-interpreting Polish-specific cultural elements!

The biggest issue I have is all the shuttling to and fro. Geralt runs fast, but not fast enough. I also hated the fact that the paths are so narrow (some kind of console-issue??) and can't just roam free. That really drags out the pacing. I could overlook that in a game from the 90s, but there's really no excuse for it here.

Regarding the dialog, I actually like it. But I prefer to read it as text on my own, since I don't care to constantly be interrupted for 5-10 minutes at the time listening to actors work their way through the script. In general, I'm not a fan of dialog-heavy CRPGs. Sure, you need some to establish the story and build the characters, but there are limits, particularly if it's not entertaining. Again, maybe it was in the original, but here we're left with utilitarian translations and mediocre voice work (in the English version) that simply aren't enough to make these segments compelling. The Polish actors do a great job IMO; at least their tone and emotions sound appropriate for the contexts. I think the English actors were probably just given their lines out of context without any idea of how to deliver them appropriately.

In short, The Witcher has a big problem because most of the game's appeal is based on its story and script, and both of those are damaged by a hack job translation.

n/a
Rowdy Rob
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Joined: 09/04/2006
Wow, great video.

All the controversy this video seems to be generating seems to obscure the fact that this was a great episode of Matt Chat!

By the way, it's very interesting to see that you're courting controversy with this episode! I can't think of a time where you were "controversial" to this extent before. It seems "The Witcher" was so well received by the gaming community that it's almost a "sacred cow," not unlike walking into a Fantasy convention and saying "you know, 'Lord of the Rings' wasn't all that....."

I do agree with your general conclusion that it's a very good game, but not flawless, and I'm not sure it's a classic. I was in fist-pumping agreement with your criticism of the heavy emphasis on long-distance walking around, or "shuttling." "Right on!" The fact that it takes so long to have to walk from one end of the map to the other, especially since you can't take a straight route due to the two-foot-high fences that your character can't just hop over for some reason, well that irritated me to the point that I just set the game aside! The travelling around got so tedious that I couldn't take it.

On the other hand, I am totally perplexed by your criticisms of the English translation. I found the dialogue to be easy to follow and decently acted! I noticed you were playing with "Polish" voices, but I played the "English" voices, and didn't find anything extraordinarily bad, at least in comparison to other recent games I've played. I have the GoG "Witcher: Enhanced Edition Director's Cut." Am I playing a magical version of it or something? I thought the English voices to be quite well done, and certainly not an embarrassment! Heck, I thought the translation was pretty good, and the voice acting commendable, actually! What's going on here?

Anyhow, great episode.... looking forward to your next episode!

clok1966
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Joined: 01/21/2009
Ya the translation has a few

Ya the translation has a few rough spots, but have to agree with Rob, I never noticed anything really when I played it and liked most of it. I agree 100% with the masked game exstion that running around non stop is... but its been done since the first RPG game, id ont think it will ever go away... I really cant disagree with much of it... but I think I liked it alot more than you did.. I really think I would put the Witcher in my top 10 game in the last few years... and maybe my 2nd in the RPGs in the last couple (of course thats no big feat, not alot to compete with). I think as I age, i will never find a game that addicted me like the stuff in the early 90's... I do think Wizardry 8 might have been the last "cant wait to play again" rpg i played. I dont know waht to say about "sex" cards... Seems silly, but I guess I do look forward to seeing them. Guess being a Male is never going to change.

Drakensang has been going great again.. except that dang Rat Queen!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I had forgot the misery .... dang overleveled battle to dang early in the game!

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