It doesn’t happen a lot, you are in a place that is so similar to this world, and yet the rules are so different and not only because it is medieval. The sun shines and it usually rains, you also have night and day… and there are people, other characters, some humans, some not. Good or bad? You may ask yourself that, but do you ask that question in real life too? Never has the grey between those two answers (yes and no), been as grey as in The Witcher universe.
Everyone has a story, maybe they did something wrong, they are neither completely good nor completely evil. Yes, you can found the white and the black but they are there only between all those shades of characters that made The Witcher universe so fascinating, so similar, yet so different.
A world scarred by war, but beautiful. The scene renders the day, glorious nature all around, and when the night comes some places they just smell of danger, you just know it and you would be right. Monsters are there, waiting. But you are a Witcher, a mutant named Gerald of Rivia, aka The White Wolf. Problem is you lost your memory and you must regain it and all the knowledge about who you are, what you did in the past… and for that you must walk the surroundings.
And the beauty of the countryside mixes up with the ugly of medieval life, the poor, the disease, the old being not only old but ignorant rather than having good judgment as old people should. The powerful leaders using words that are a trap for fools, and those ignorant peasants that will follow those who speak of imaginary gods to pray for solution for all their problems. And then you see kids, there are no promises of future in them; you know from the moment they speak they will grown to be corrupted and ignorant like the world that surrounds them.
The rich and their excesses alongside the poor and usually their diseases. Everything is so human in the way that if it wasn’t because you are on the soles of a mutant fighting monsters you would think you are in the medieval era.
Yes, you can have sex.
Even sex is present in The Witcher as just another aspect of life in that world, not as the center of it, but as something that is there for you if you want it. Prostitutes are there for hire, and promiscuous girls may have a go with you if you have a nice present for her. Violence and sex on phrases like “my neighbored beat up his wife all night, I couldn’t sleep”, told in a normal fashion like a comment on a conversation. Or “…my husband beat me so hard last time I think I saw a tooth”, and the indifference towards the violence of this world makes you feel that even you are on a fantasy setting you wont escape the true colors of this world. They won’t try to give you the reality in a nice fashion, or put some make up over it.
And then there is the conflict between the different races. Ratial issues between humans and dwarves, or the war between elves and humans that seem to have come to an end but weakened the elves and diminish their numbers. Now they have to live like rogues and outcasts on the forest.
There are some examples of friendship between dwarves and humans, but there aren’t many; most of the time seems to be a mutual benefit relationship that is based on trade.
But the best part of The Witcher is that you character is not there to change things, to make things right or to deliver justice and balance. He is there because he is chasing those who killed a friend and trying to remember who he is, in the meantime enjoying the same vices like the sex, alcohol and gambling like everyone else. He is a passive spectator most of the time, and that for a change doesn’t work badly at all on a videogame: “here is the world, some things wont change because of you”.
Is a shame that not so many played The Witcher, maybe because it was quite buggy. The Witcher Enchanced Edition come a year later, a version that added a little bit of more content and fixed the very buggy first version of the game. I recommend it as a solid buy right now. I really don’t know what happened to the console version of the game, I hope it comes out somewhere in the near future.