I was doubtful that I would finish this before Halloween, but here we are. This game isn't remotely as scary or Satanic, but still features lots of monsters, and monstrous people.
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is the latest installment (and last, according to the developer) adapted from a series of books. Unlike some other settings, this one emphasizes gray choices. Cut and dry good and bad choices are rare. People are not objectively good or evil. For example, a nationalistic ruler may drive out invading armies, but perpetrate a holocaust.
The star is Geralt, a mutant monster hunter. But make no mistake: he is not the hero of this game. You spend about 75% of the game looking for the hero, and when you do, crap hits the fan. If you can endure some grinding on some cleverly written quests, the few dozen hours aren't bad.
The combat and magic systems in this game (as in the previous ones) are quite complex. Unless you play on harder difficulties, you don't have to worry about them. I started using potions, poisons, and magic whenever I was pwned by a boss. Some of it became routine, because I like to not die and to sometimes set things on fire. It's easy, because the game has library of monsters you come across, and what to counter them with. There is an item crafting system that is practically mandatory.
The game took me on some bizzare quests at times. My favorite three that I liked a lot involved: one with a stillborn baby, another a hunter and his sister-in-law, and another with a demon and an oven. I love how sometimes the main quest leads you somewhere, and when it's clear the hero isn't there, I still do the quests introduced. Even far fetched side quests are generally well written (one of those three). There are plenty of funny, serious, and touching moments, and even inside jokes.
The wild hunt isn't a person, as much as an army. The king of the wild hunt is a jerk. In the first game, he and his army appeared as ghosts, so it was difficult for me to grasp the corporealness depicted. I would even deny anything living underneath.
Dandelion's narrations in the loading screens annoyed me the most. He appears in the game and the voice over isn't his voice! Although the tips on some of the others were great: "When the time of the White Frost comes, don’t eat the yellow snow."
I liked the dice minigame in the last games, but this one throws it out. Gwent, a collectible card game, replaces it. I never got into it, since it was another mechanic on the game, and I came here to kill monsters and chew bubblegum! I went through my last game without touching it, although I bought every card I found on merchants, because Geralt is rich. Other people loved it so much that there was a mod that replaced all combat with Gwent. It has even morphed into a stand alone game on its own.
The graphics in this game are the most realistic I've ever seen. I've never seen such beautiful battlefields and swamps. I doubt that graphics can get that much better, but what do I know? It's not as if I'm a graphics programmer. It supports 7.1 surround sound, and my system handled it very well.
If you've played the Mass Effect series, these RPGs are better. Granted, the Witcher games have less continuity between them, but the choices impact and mean more. The mechanics behind the ending worked they way I expected them to. Instead of choosing a door, choices made long ago add up to you're screwed. Maybe.
I got this on launch day, and it has been one of my most favorite games of late. I thought it was so good, that I played it twice. Sorry for the delay (it's an open world game), but this is pure excellence. If you love serious RPGs, you owe it to yourself to get this game. It has deserved every award its been given. I wonder if its DLC holds up.