I realize it’s been months since I last posted, and here I am ready to talk about a game I recently started playing: The Witcher 3. Yeah, I know, it came out in 2015. I’m a bit behind. I bought it on Steam sale for about $7 and decided to give it a whirl. Even though it’s a narrative heavy RPG (something I like) I’d avoided it because I prefer RPGs where I can customize my character or at the very least play as a woman. In The Witcher 3 you’re stuck playing Geralt, an overly-buff, white-haired sword wielder who has a few minor magical abilities.

Playing Geralt definitely feels like I’m in a heterosexual male fantasy: he’s muscular, sarcastic, and has plenty of girlfriends. His voice is deep and grizzled, and I wonder how many packs of cigarettes the voice actor had to smoke before completing his scenes. I rebel by making my Geralt the kindest possible version of himself in his dialog options.

geralt
Geralt. So broad-shouldered. So gravely-voiced.

I play this and wonder if you can really call it an RPG? RPG stands for “Role Playing Game” and while technically you’re playing the role of Geralt, the term RPG is taken from the tabletop gaming world where players create their own characters. Can a game be considered an RPG if you’re forced to play a specific character? Or is Witcher 3 more of an adventure game with combat? Most people wouldn’t call Life is Strange a roleplaying game even though you’re playing the role of Max Caulfield. What makes that an adventure game but Witcher 3 an RPG? Is Witcher 3 an RPG because of it’s fantasy setting? is Life is Strange an adventure game because there’s no combat? I really don’t know–let me know what you think in the comments.

On to better topics: cats in the game, and whether or not you can pet them.

milada-vigerova-ko5vGUk9ILo-unsplash

Early in the game I ended up at a tavern and while questioning in the patrons I found a cat. I couldn’t pet the cat and the cat hissed at me. It might have something to do with my cat eyes. Very disappointing.

Despite not being able to pet the cat and Geralt not being my ideal player character (he does have nice hair and the cat eyes are cool), I am interested in the lore. I’ll try to focus on that as I keep playing.

Cover image via this website. I thought I’d finally found one without a person in it, but I was wrong. Cat photo by Milada Vigerova on Unsplash.

5 thoughts on “Witcher 3 First Impressions: Is it Really an RPG Though?

  1. I had a phase where I didn’t consider anything where I couldn’t create my own character and the system wasn’t similar to tabletop RPGs and thought they weren’t real RPGs. I got over that but it still annoys me when an “RPG” gives choices that turns out to be ultimately meaningless. I don’t know if that is the case with The Witcher 3 though, I am still stubbornly trying to finish the first one. >_<

    Anyway, little rant aside, I think what differentiates an RPG from an adventure game is mainly due to mechanics. In the olden days adventures were more about point and clicking and solving puzzles to advance the story whereas RPGs were all about killing monsters and bad guys, getting loot and getting XP to level up so you could deal with stronger monsters and bad guys to advance the story.

    With the way things are nowadays the differences are murkier. But in a Telltale-like adventure, like Life is Strange, I still don't really consider an RPG as the main mechanic is still mostly point and clicking and talking with people to advance the story. It doesn't have much in the ways of puzzles anymore though. CRPGs are still about combat, leveling up and getting new skills/power/talents/whatever. Although in a lot of them the dialogues and choices feels a lot less meaningful nowadays than they did in their golden age.

    So to me, yeah, the Witcher series is still a RPG and Life is Strange is still an adventure game. And I love both for different reasons. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The mechanics distinction makes a lot of sense. I also agree that adventure games don’t feel like they used to. Thinking back to games like Myst and The Longest Journey, those puzzles were hard. While I loved Life is Strange, it wasn’t really challenging.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I think you’ll end up being quite surprised just how much you can customise Geralt’s playstyle. You can go down to how the individual signs even work. For example, turning the protection sign into a channellable AoE shield which will stagger enemies if shattered (one of my personal favourites).

    LiS on the other hand doesn’t really let you alter how anything about Max actually works. There is no customisation available.

    I hear you on the actual who-you-are customisation front as well though. I think in many cases that can be the more meaningful aspect of an RPG, at least when used in the right ways.

    But it does also risk making you a nameless, faceless, void within the context of a game. So I tend to judge on how well the removal of that customisation has then been capitalised on.

    I feel like the Mass Effect series, and the Witcher series just as some examples tends to use it very well. There are some truly moving moments in the game as a result of the character being who he is. Oh man…

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Combat is never my main draw to a game and I can think of few that have had combat systems or options I really loved (I loved Dragon Age’s tactics and being a stealth archer in Skyrim—which I came up with not realizing it was a thing “I’m going to be a bow and arrow sniper!”)

      I think my fear is I’ll find Geralt just too irritating to finish the game.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. If it happens, it happens I suppose. I hope not though. Geralt can certainly be touched by emotion by emotion at times, breaking — even if only a little — that stoic, macho stereotype he has going so much of the time.

        The next link I’m going to provide is a *MASSIVE SPOILER*. I mean, if you intend to keep playing anyway, then I would just advise to skip it and pretend I never linked it for you.

        By the time you would normally see this ingame, you’ve seen quite a bit — including playing through portions from Ciri’s side of the story.

        So it certainly means more when you get there yourself. But having said that — I had it ‘spoiled’ for me and it *still* hits me in the man-feels every single time. Hell, just finding the clip again now and watching through it got me all over again!

        If not for your issues and fears about the game so far, I wouldn’t link it. So again, *MASSIVE SPOILER WARNING, NO-ONE with an inkling to play The Witcher 3 and still hasn’t should watch this*: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6KpXbdgtns8

        Right, I’ll go back to the corner now to clear the dust that suddenly appeared in here. *sniff*

        Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s