Thursday, September 30, 2010

The Witcher II Preview P.2

The Witcher II Preview:

Part 2: Story

The books:

The Witcher began as a collection of short stories in ‘The Witcher’ universe, then was later tied together for the first book The Last Wish. When this took off, a saga was eventually published with the main character Geralt of Rivia.

This Witcher universe is a place designed as a medieval world with its own monsters, species, and mythologies BUT also designed to remain relevant in terms of moral questions that still exist today, and moral ambiguities that all can understand. The author (Andrzej Sapkowski) constantly tries to tie in the old world he created, to the current events of ours, like an old Wizard complaining about environmental issues and the impacts of civilization :D.

Racism and inequality are ever-present, yet the series never fails to have a quirky sense of humor about just about everything. The eloquent Geralt knows when to turn on the charm, when to whip out the blade, and when to intimidate his opponents. This is something that carried very well into the games, and why many fans say that they stayed true to the spirit of the books. That’s always the fear of course, and it definitely happened to the early 2001 film and series adaptations. (If you even heard of them its a miracle, they both failed quite badly)

Don't feel bad if you missed this one, it was worth missing. 

Genetically modifying themselves at a young age, Witchers become something more then human. Firstly, they do this so that they can imbibe alchemical concoctions that allow them to survive fights with the most dangerous monsters out there. Monster hunting is the first and foremost duty of the Witchers, but it also makes them pariahs in society, seen as not quite human. Again, racism to all nonhumans is a running theme in the books, and something that Geralt constantly has to fight with.

The change also lengthens their age, so that they have a lifespan almost akin to elves (elves have a lifespan of 300 years in the books, and for Witchers it is somewhat ambiguous but definitely 100+). Finally, it makes them sterile... rumors abound among the women folk about the ‘prowess’ of Witchers, since they are immune to disease—even venereal—and their touch makes the skin tingle... they are much sought after :D.

My original intention was to go over each book and speculate on potential tie-ins, but since most of the books haven’t been translated over to english, most of my audience probably wouldn’t appreciate that :P.

Only 2 of the many books and collections of short stories are out in English so far, sorry English speakers :P

*spoilers if you have not played the first game*

The end of the first Witcher game and the story carried to II:

Early reports was that the ‘assumed’ ending was that the Eleven rebellion was put down, and that you would not be able to continue from where you left off, seeing choices from The Witcher I reflected in II.

I am happy to report that that is not the case! :D There will be a system of importing your disposition at the end of The Witcher I, and many of your choices will have an impact on the current disposition of characters, and circumstances; this will probably extend to how they treat you, or even if they are there at all.

Even so, it seems that there are some points of the early story that are fixed, and it may be that even if you helped the elves in 1, their rebellion still failed. Yet, they might be in a better way then if you helped the Order for example. (for my main save I remained neutral, currently chewing my nails off wondering how it will play out in II)

*end spoilers*

The developers have said the The Witcher II will have a ‘self contained’ story, so if you have not played The Witcher I it will not impede upon your enjoyment of playing 2, but your experience might not be as deep as you wont see any echoing storyline from the first iteration.

(Recently the developers showed a lot of fan love by releasing an ‘enhanced’ edition of The Witcher I. So if this skipped you by I’d heartily recommend you try this better version. It is even free for anyone who owns the original game! Usually when an edition like this is put out they call it ‘gold’ or some such, and the fans have to shell out to get the better experience. The developers deserve a lot of praise for this in my humble opinion.)

Seriously, if you haven't tried the Enhanced Edition, drop everything and do it now :D

As was said in the first part of this preview, the story will be very nonlinear. The developers have said there will be around 16 possible endings to the story, some set in motion relatively early in the storyline. (No more reloading and pulling a different ‘lever’ for a different ending, yet another reason to replay)

Unlike other games of this stripe, the game focuses on the ‘moment’. Each choice presented will make the player think about the potential consequences and moral questions of the situation. In other words, no more ‘red and blue’. The player will not have to worry about the game herding him into being ‘good’ or ‘bad’.

While in the original Geralt did most of his adventuring on his own, in this game companions will have a large impact on the story and you can count on having someone by your side through most of the way through the game. Most will be the usual RPG fair, different dialogue and impact, but in this game you will not be able to directly control your companions. Want to bring along that gruff dwarf? Don’t expect him to play nice :D

Our old pals will be making a comeback, and this time you can take them along for the ride!

The last thing I want to mention is Geralt’s ‘memory problems’

Kind-of standard RPG stuff to introduce the gamer to the environment, and let him ask a lot of stupid questions of everyone he meets :D.

This time, it seems that our white-skinned pal will be remembering a good portion of his experiences from the books, and that will play its part in the storyline in the form of old scores and new characters. The Developers also promise that many of those recollections will add a depth to the character, as many of those choices will haunt him because they aren’t necessarily pleasant.

Continued in Part 3: What we know so far.