#1 Edited by Solfege (15 posts) -

So, I've listened to people talking (or even raving) about The Witcher since it came out in 2007. People and reviewers generally look at it as a stand out game. It even got some RPG GOTY awards as far as I can remember.

I've never thought too much about the game because of time constraints, but I recently bought the game in a Steam sale and decided to try it out..

The thing is, I couldn't stand it. People were touting it as the most dark and mature RPG of the generation when all I could see and hear was a teenagers first attempt at fan fiction (with "hot" sex scenes and "badass'ery" everywhere). The story was generic and the dialogue and voice acting was toe-curlingly awful.

Now, I tried giving it a chance for around 5 hours but couldn't go further. I then proceeded to pop in Icewind dale 2 which I also hadn't played before and holy cow what a difference!

Even though IWD2 has a pretty generic overall story the dialogue is miles ahead of TW. It's generally very well written and even though it has quite many humorous scenes it still felt way more mature than TW. IWD2 dares to take it's time and provide you with alot of text, but it doesn't really bother me when it's wellwritten. This, and the pretty good gameplay has kept me going until now.

I'm not trying to simply take a dump on The Witcher as it surely had some good things in it. But it was weird to see these two games next to eachother:

The Witcher. Praised for it's writing when it was pretty terrible.

Icewind Dale 2. Generally thought of as having pretty simple story and writing (compared to other rpgs of the time) and not really getting praised for that aspect of it, when it actually has far better writing in my opinion.

I know that the writing in games generally have improved over the last years, but It was just weird for me to see this difference.

Any thoughts?

Oh, and do any of you have any recommendations for wellwritten games?

Edit: English is not my native language so sorry for any bad writing:-p

And yes, I played the Enhanced edition.

#2 Posted by SirOptimusPrime (2037 posts) -

The Witcher gets better after the prologue and first chapter, minus some parts in both that are interesting. I'd say about halfway through Vizima it gets good/intriguing, if it does reuse that stupid fucking swamp, whereas Icewind Dale goes bonkers in just about every way immediately upon hitting the ice temple. Yeah, I suspend a lot for the sake of fighting goblins, but from then on the dungeons feel pasted together rather than part of a cohesive structure and the writing is pretty middling all the way through. It's especially tiresome in comparison to PS:T or BGII.

#3 Posted by Viking_Funeral (2180 posts) -

The Witcher gets better after Chapter 2. Much better. But getting there is such a slog, that it can be annoying. Any time I decide to replay the game I usually get to the swamps of Ch.2 only to stop caring and load up another game. Which is too bad, because the rest of the game is pretty decent. (Awkward sex scenes not withstanding.)

The Witcher 2 is even better, and I would say the first game is not necessary to enjoy it. At any rate, don't feel bad about not being a fan of the first Witcher. It's justifiable.

#4 Edited by mordukai (7830 posts) -

You should give Planescape: Torment a go. IMO, it's the best story ever told in an RPG game that would never be matched. You'll just have to get over the rather stiff combat.

#5 Posted by Abendlaender (3005 posts) -

@mordukai said:

You should give Planescape: Torment a go. IMO, it's the best story ever told in an RPG game that would never be matched. You'll just have to get over the rather stiff combat.

Yeah, Planescape is kinda weird. The story is amazing but the combat is frustrating at best and boring at worst. I kinda end up cheating my way through the game cause I just want to experience the different options you have without getting bogged down by the clumsy fighting system.

Also The Witcher is one of my favourtie RPGs in years. ID2 was imho just average (at the time at least)

#6 Posted by ArbitraryWater (12890 posts) -

The Witcher takes a while to get up to speed, but once it does it gets a lot better. Meanwhile, on the other end of the spectrum, I found IWD 2 to have good writing for what it was, and I appreciated the fact that you would get different dialogue depending on what race/class your characters were. However, I also think Icewind Dale 2 is probably my least favorite of the Infinity Engine RPGs, and a lot of that has to do with how much talking and back and forth there is between all the combat.

#7 Posted by Solfege (15 posts) -

Thanks for the replies everybody!

It seems I probably stopped playing TW just when it gets good. Damn, I think I still have my save near the end of chapter 1, so I'll try and go back and give it another shot. I thought about it and came to realise that it's probably not the dialogue alone that turned me off. Can anybody tell me if the voiceacting gets better in any way? Is there an option to silence Gerald or maybe a language change option? I watched some videos of dialogue from TW on youtube and the awkward delivery of the voiceacting kind of screws up the bit of goodness the writing provides.

As for IWD2 I've just reached the second level of the Ice Temple. I'm waiting for it to get as crazy as you say SirOptimusPrime. I would not put the game up next to BG2 or PS:T in any way (those two are some of my favorite games of all time), but I think it has pretty wellwritten dialogue (well above average for me). As I said in my OP the story and dialogue in IWD2 is just as cliché as TW, but it just seems better written and articulated to me.

Another game that came to mind was Vagrant Story. That game has some awesome dialogue and music! And although the gameplay mechanics was kind of messed up it still was a greater experience than a lot of games because of the ( weirdly for a japanese rpg) mature mood and atmosphere of the game.

#8 Posted by TaliciaDragonsong (8734 posts) -

Thing is, opinions you know?
I hated everything about Icewind Dale but I freaking love Witcher. Not everyone appreciates the same style of writing/story/etc. That alone can force me to not like a book or play a rpg. I'm just glad we have the opportunity to enjoy so many different sorts of games nowadays in any case.

#9 Posted by ThunderSlash (2378 posts) -

@Solfege: There should be an option to change the language of the voices to the original, Polish, or a bunch of others if you've got the game all patched up. I certainly recall a huge number of the memory space of that game taken up by the various language options.

#10 Posted by DeF (5230 posts) -

@Solfege: The VO stays horrible throughout. Geralt is pretty badly voice acted in the first game. Weirdly though, he is much better in the second game ... with the same voice actor even (acting lessons? better direction? who knows!). But you're probably turned off the most by him. I started to just read the text and skip the VO as soon as I was done reading.

In general though, you shouldn't make any judgment calls about a game's story if you've stopped playing after the introductory sequence.

#11 Posted by believer258 (12964 posts) -

I got the same feeling about The Witcher 1 at times but its sequel is much, much better in pretty much every way. It has a pretty different tone, look, and feel to it.

#12 Posted by Solfege (15 posts) -

@TaliciaDragonsong: Sure, it's nice that people like and I generally only hear praise for the game. And upon hearing what people are saying here in this thread I'm tempted to give it another chance. Maybe with the polish voice acting (anything but that english Gerald).

@ThunderSlash: Cool, thanks! I will try that out.

@DeF said:

In general though, you shouldn't make any judgment calls about a game's story if you've stopped playing after the introductory sequence.

I kinda disagree on that one. And I wouldn't call all the way from the beginning of the game to the end of the 1st chapter as "introductory". And just because it's the introduction of the game doesn't give it a free pass. People here are saying it gets better almost right after where I am now so I will probably give a second shot. But still, this "introductory sequence" has been kind of a chore both gameplay and storywise so far.

#13 Edited by Klei (1799 posts) -

What you need to understand is that, in 2007, The Witcher was released as a mostly-indie title. It was a game that caught everyone by surprise, especially coming from Poland. Sure, everything is rough around the edges, including the voice acting and the ho-hum translation from its original language. Keep in mind that it was a very, very low-budget title. That's why they released an Enhanced Edition; they managed to get enough money to be able to polish it. That said, Witcher has one of the better medieval fantasy universes out there. When Witcher 2 was released, it was a complete and total reinvention. Drop-dead, benchmark-setting graphics accompanied with killer voice acting and storytelling.

Comparing Witcher 1 to Icewindale would be comparing ME3 to FTL.

#14 Posted by SirOptimusPrime (2037 posts) -

The voice acting in The Witcher 1 is really average to borderline terrible, but I don't think anyone will tell you differently. Maybe back in '07, but certainly not now after The Witcher 2 had fantastic voice acting. The VA for Geralt improved massively between games. I also agree about introductions not getting a pass - I want quality through and through.

Oh, and it's hilarious/frustrating that most of the people say Geralt with a hard "g" but every so often you get a "jeralt." Makes me squirm for some reason.

#15 Posted by phrosnite (3511 posts) -

@mordukai said:

You should give Planescape: Torment a go. IMO, it's the best story ever told in an RPG game that would never be matched. You'll just have to get over the rather stiff combat.

I wish I could, man. I wish I could. I've tried playing it probably 4 times 1-2 hours each time. This game is the only game that is allowed to use amnesia as a plot device. I guess I'll dl my gog version again...

#16 Edited by Undeadpool (5250 posts) -

@Solfege: The other thing to remember about the Witcher is that it's based on a series of novels and, having read the two that have been translated to English, I can say the games matches their tone pitch-perfectly. Now I'm not trying to say "It was a book, your argument is invalid", but more like a lot of the stories match the kind of "bawdy house legend" tone that the game has at first before completely turning you around and dropping your jaw. If it didn't take SO FUCKING LONG to get there, I'd almost say it was a deliberate act of misdirection a la something like Spec Ops: The Line. It's more like they crammed a short-novel's pacing into a videogame, so you have bear with it a bit.

#17 Posted by tourgen (4568 posts) -

If you don't like it after chapter 1 you should probably just stop.

I loved the game all the way through. I enjoyed the combat, potions, and magic mechanics and that helped a lot to keep me going in the early game. The voice acting is uneven throughout the game. The bard, Dandelion, is the worst (which I thought was funny). I like the story. And guess what, real people have sex! What a shock. It's nice to see it acknowledged in a game. Later it plays into his more serious relationships.

In contrast Icewind Dale was just more boring D&D game mechanics and highly sanitized dialog and story. Nothing interesting going on and generally "safe" boring characters. Kind of like an old Sunday morning cartoon but with way worse fight scenes.

Opinions! Witcher just isn't a game that's going to work with you.

#18 Posted by Veektarius (5422 posts) -

I played the Witcher too long ago to remember which parts were good and which were bad, but that game slugs you in the gut with its story by the end. I don't think Icewind Dale is any better than Neverwinter Nights when it comes to story, and NWN's main value was as an editor for modders.