It seems like years ago that I bought The Witcher 1 & 2 in one of those deep-discount Steam sales. I spent about 15 minutes playing The Witcher 1 (enough time to watch the opening movie and then get to where I could feel the intense pain of the combat controls), and then never played it again.
Lately I’ve started to see some buzz about The Witcher 3, and I see that it’s now available for pre-order on Steam. To my mild surprise, among the blogs I read, the announcement of a third Witcher game has been roughly akin to an announcement about the return of Firefly to television. People seem to love these games, and they are dying for the next one.
So I decided to take another look at The Witcher series. Since I had such a bad experience with the first one, and knowing that the second one had better controls, I just skipped ahead to The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings.
But still, I hated it.
I started with the tutorial, and I tried to play with the mouse and keyboard as I usually do with PC games. It was awful. The interface appeared to be hopelessly complicated. I put it away for a while. Then I tried it another day with an Xbox controller, and found it marginally better, though I still found the tutorial to be awful. I put it away again.
Then I tried it one last time with the controller, but this time I skipped the tutorial.
Suddenly The Witcher 2 turned into a real game!
Despite the ridiculous trope of starting out a prisoner, I found myself drawn into the story almost immediately. And that right there is why I think people love The Witcher: The story. It’s another one of those games where the “game” part kind of gets in the way of the story. I played it on Easy, so I could get through the gaming as fast as possible, because the real meat of the game is in the cut scenes, as far as I’m concerned.
And there are a lot of cut scenes; long, long cut scenes. This is not a game you can play while watching television. It is television. Have a bowl of popcorn handy.
The only down side to The Witcher 2 is that it isn’t long enough. I played for 32 hours and felt like the main story ended rather abruptly.
Anyway, the point is that now I’m a Witcher fanboy too, and anxiously awaiting The Witcher 3 along with everyone else (that trailer is awesome). But if you’re having trouble getting started in The Witcher 2 like I did, I heartily recommend that you skip the tutorial. There is nothing fun about it.
P.S. I went back and tried The Witcher 1 again too. I’ve only made it to Chapter 2, but I’m able to tolerate the horrible interface a little better now that I know there is a good story to see. Also, some of the story in Witcher 2 makes more sense after you play Witcher 1. (Like the whole memory loss thing.)