I haven’t played The Witcher 2 in years. My first playthrough was on an old ass laptop that could only run the game on medium settings. After reading The Last Wish I had the urge to experience this game again and decided to review it this time around.
The Witcher 2 has aged well. It looks better than games that release today. Walking through the forest of Flotsam is a visual treat. I stopped regularly during my 24 hour playthrough and took in the view around me. The world isn’t the only beautiful thing to look at in The Witcher 2. Armor, weapons, npcs, and the Geralt himself also look great. I love how every sword has a different scabbard and how I can easily make out the most minutiae detail on a piece of armor that I’m wearing. The little things like that is what make this game so good and above everything else that released in 2011. Graphics like this was a rare treat 6 years ago and this game still holds up well today.
CD Projekt Red knows how to tell one hell of story. They did it in The Witcher 1, and they followed up with a better one in this game. Geralt has amnesia and doesn’t remember a lot about his past life. He doesn’t remember Yennefer, The Wild Hunt, or Letho. At the beginning of the game Geralt is mistaken for the kingslayer and is locked in a dungeon and tortured by Vernon Roche. Once Geralt convinces Roche of his innocence they head out to try and clear his name by eliminating the real kingslayer. This story can develop in many different ways. It encourages multiple playthroughs because of the choices that we make in this game. Will you aid Roche in clearing your name or join Iorveth and his band of rogues and fight for the resistance? Will you allow Roche to slay a king or step in and talk some sense into him? This story has so many great moments that it’s hard to keep track of them all. I want to play through this again at some point and make all the opposite decisions the next time around.
The voice acting in this game is superb. It’s better than the first game in every way imaginable. Listening to a king speak about ploughing his sister or Iorveth talk about killing dwans is delivered with grace by their voice actors. This game is well acted and the excellent facial animations help bring these characters to life.
The soundtrack is amazing. The opening theme at the main menu to the final song that plays in the credits in amazing. A great soundtrack can make a good game a great one and that’s what this soundtrack does to this game. When Foltest was murdered the song playing in the background made that moment have impact to me. It made me want to find the kingslayer and clear my name which is why I sided with Roche and went after him. This game has one of the best soundtracks of all time.
When I joined Iorveth for the final battle in act 1 I came across some elves trapped in a burning building. Iorveth wanted me to leave them to their fate, but I decided to go and save them. In act 2 I was doing my thing and exploring when I came across one of the elf women that I saved. She thanked me for saving her and even rewarded me for it. In act 2 I came across a magical tome that had handwriting that Geralt didn’t understand. I could have sold the tome to a mage for some quick cash, but I decided to hold on to it because I felt it would be important later on in the game. I was correct because it led me to an awesome weapon later on in the game once I had someone decipher the tome for me.
How about some meatier choices? If I don’t save Triss and help Roche save the heir to the Temerian throne someone else saves her instead and the ending of the game would be different. My choices in this game actually matter and I love that. There’s no second chance to do a quest that failed. I got tricked by a ghost and got a good man killed and had to live with that decision. It sucked, but it was awesome too.
The gameplay in this game departed from the point and click gameplay of it’s predecessor and went in a more action oriented direction in this one. It works for the most part, but it’s not perfect. Investing in alchemy in this game is pointless because I can get super strong by just leveling up either the warrior or magic skill trees. I was so strong by the end of the game that I never needed to pop a potion before battle. The stronger I got the easier this game became and that’s a shame because this game starts off pretty hard and forced me to use everything at my disposal. Later on I just smiled and went in chopping shit until it died.
The Witcher 2 is a buggy game. Some times I’m forced to reload because a quest objective won’t trigger, or because Geralt refuses to run and just walks everywhere even though I never pushed the cap lock button. My game froze once in my 24 hour playthrough and I even got stuck in a door. None of the bugs happened very often, but if you’re getting into this series you should know what to expect from prolonged play sessions.
This game would be perfect if it ended in act 2. Loc Muinne is a pain to navigate, has the most uninteresting quest, outside the main quest of course, and is the most dull environment in the game. The main quest remained excellent from beginning to end, but when I finally found Triss I thought there would be an emotional reunion between Geralt, and Triss. I was wrong because they didn’t even hug after being separated for so long. Ves completely disappeared even though Geralt hinted at not trusting her explanation on what happened to Roche’s men, but it was never explained and just dropped in act 3. This act felt rushed and that’s disappointing because everything else was so good. Thankfully we got a good ending, but I wish the side things was wrapped up as nicely.
The Witcher 2 is a great game even with it’s flaws. The last act is weak when compared to the first two, but the storytelling in all three acts is superb. This game has great voice acting, characters, good gameplay, and excellent graphics. If you’ve never played Assassins of Kings I can’t recommend this game enough. Buy this game and play it.