I received The Witcher for christmas 2 years ago from my Australian friend and his Polish girlfriend, who live in Amsterdam. At the time my laptop couldn’t handle it so I put it aside, but since I completed the dark ritual of invoking the elder gods, I seem to have developed strange new powers of speed and graphical ability, such that the game plays reasonably smoothly. It’s still a bit clunky at times but the graphics are still really pretty, and I’m willing to put up with occasional jerkiness in order to enjoy the game.

This game so far is great. It’s about a washed-up rock god, Geralt the Witcher, who seems to have lost his memory in a bad moment of slaughter, and is running around his world trying to figure out why some bad guys want to steal his secret society’s mutagenic magic. Geralt is a freak and not necessarily a very nice man, but the world he is in is harsh and he has to get up to some nasty business to survive. He’s also got a nasty sense of humour, he’s cynical, and he speaks in short, pithy sentences which drip with sarcasm or threat. He’s a womanizer (I’ve had 3 women already and I’m still on Chapter 1!) and everyone around him is a misogynist, a racist and a prick. It really is mediaeval Europe!

The gameplay is also fun. Geralt is largely a fighter, with some small spells (so far, a knock-down/stun spell and a fire spell) to help him in combat. He makes lots of potions which can help him, and he has a couple of different combat styles. At the start of combat you choose his style to suit the opponent – strong, fast or group – and you have to click for him to hit, with the possibility of lethal combos. The myriad fascinating ways in which he murders stunned opponents are particularly entertaining, and in fact you can’t really get through this game without regularly using your magic to stun people so you can cut their throats. It’s particularly fun to take the Blizzard potion, which slows down the game and surrounds the battle in strange glowing colours, as if you were fighting in an acid flashback. The slowed movements enable you to better pick your combos, and you get to see the brutal murder of your opponents in great detail and slow motion. Heads roll, blood spurts, people make horrible noises, and Geralt grunts. It’s visceral, man.

The plot is a bit too loopy at times but I don’t care. The game really reminds me of the books it is based on, which I have read (that is, The Last Wish and it’s sadly mistranslated sequels), and it is well worth playing. In fact, I’m off to slay a beast right now…