At a recent press event in New York, I saw a demo of The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings, the follow-up to the critically acclaimed 2007 medieval fantasy RPG from Polish studio CD Projekt. Knowing that the original game had its idiosyncrasies, which is typical of Eastern European-developed videogames, I asked the PR rep, Tom Ohle, if the development team made any concessions to the Western market in order to try and give the sequel a wider appeal.
The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings (PC)
Ohle told me that the team put a great deal of effort into crafting a believable fantasy world; in order to more fully realize Vergan and make it seem like a place in which Dwarves would really live, the developers drew inspiration from sources such as The Lord of the Rings. Vergan is a decent-sized burg, and I noticed a lot of stone and wood was used in its construction. The local bar is a loud, lively meeting place at any time of day. Dwarven children played in the street while other NPCs uttered a couple of lines of dialogue as protagonist Geralt walked past.
Combat is tied to the game’s four skill trees: training, swordsmanship, magic, and alchemy. You can now change your appearance depending on the items you have crafted and equipped; there’s nothing too outlandish, since CD Projekt wanted to remain mostly faithful to the canon of Andrzej Sapkowski’s Witcher books, but you’ll be able to customize Geralt’s looks within the bounds of the fiction. The studio has also revamped the inventory management, a major gripe with the original game.
Once Geralt began talking to Dandelion in Vergan’s inn, the game’s dialogue really began to stand out to me. The Witcher 2 can be a damn funny game, and even when it’s not, at least the conversations aren’t cheesy; this time around, CD Projekt brought in a native English speaker to help maintain the story’s quality. Geralt’s plan was to use Dandelion as bait to lure the succubus into revealing her true form. But first, Dandelion wanted to sing his anthem for Vergan to Geralt; when he asked Geralt if he liked it, the monster hunter retorted, “Well... it rhymes.”
So Geralt followed his friend down into the succubus’ den. A well-endowed naked woman floated before him, with Dandelion strapped to her bed. (The sequel is trying to tell its story in a less silly manner, so the “sex cards” that were in The Witcher are gone, but you can rest assured that there’s plenty of unabashedly mature content in this game.) Ohle told me that he could just attack the demon at this point, but he decided to question her instead. The succubus admitted to having her fun with the formerly-living corpse in the catacombs, but insisted that he was still alive when she finished with him. In a show of good faith, she promised to release Dandelion when he woke up.
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