The Witcher almost didn’t star leading man Geralt

Would you have preferred a customisable lead character?

Former Witcher project lead Ryszard Chojnowski has shed light on the development of the hugely popular RPG series in a YouTube video, revealing that the game was very nearly a top-down Diablo clone inspired by the likes of Baldur’s Gate: Dark Alliance.

The 2002 demo — a point-and-click action game — was built using the same engine as 1999 WWII shooter Mortyr. Originally, the plan was to have a fully customisation character as lead, with Geralt making an appearance as an interactive NPC. Only a single Witcher sign (Igni, a fire attack) made the first cut, and there were no progression systems.

A year later, this proposal was abandoned and work commenced on The Witcher series as we know it, the first game releasing in 2007.

“There was no communication between the story writers and the team, and everyone had their own vision of the game,” Chojnowski says. “The programmer wanted it to be a short and simple action title, whereas me, and the art team, and the writers, yearned for a fully fledged RPG to give justice to the novels we all loved.”

“Even though the art team was extremely talented, we realised that the engine shortcomings and the lack of direction and supervision was really holding the project back. So in May 2003 the board of directors made the decision to abandon the project.”

Are you stepping in Geralt’s shoes yet? In our The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt review, we said that it is “a huge step up from its predecessor, mostly because it manages to tell a more compelling and personal tale. At the same time, that intimate feel is juxtaposed against a gigantic, sprawling open-world adventure that may hit some snags along the way but still comes out on top.”

The Witcher Was Almost A Diablo Clone [Kotaku, via PC Gamer]

Vikki Blake