by Josh Vollmer

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is an open world action RPG based on a series of novels and short stories by Andrezj Sapkowski. Released earlier this year for Xbox One and Playstation 4, the game has players take on the role of Geralt of Rivia, a monster hunter of some renown and one of the few witchers remaining in the Northern Kingdoms. His primary quest is a personal one; to track down and reunite with the last witcher in training, his adopted daughter Ciri. Unfortunately, catching up to her may prove difficult as it is becomes increasingly clear that she is on the run and traveling hard. Evidently, Geralt’s not the only one tracking Ciri, and he soon learns the Wild Hunt, an otherworldly army bent on using Ciri’s unique powers to usher in the end of the world, is also on her tail.

Tracking his prodigal daughter is far from Geralt’s only quest however. The game, thirty times larger than either previous Witcher title, is littered with tons of side quests, numerous monster hunting contracts, scavenger hunts and more that will introduce you to dozens of characters, some old friends and some new faces. All of which lends itself to a game that feels as vast and deep as other comparable titles, such as Dragon Age Inquisition or The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. Completionists could easily put in over 100 hours in an attempt to do everything available. Trying won’t seem like a chore either, with solid dialog and voice acting, and an overall compelling narrative.

Not to mention the game is gorgeous. CD Projekt RED is generally known for delivering fine visuals, and Witcher 3 does not disappoint. Created on the studio’s proprietary engine, REDenginge 3, this title ranks up there with Batman: Arkham Knight as one of the best looking games on any system right now. I just wish the setting didn’t lack a certain bit of character. The world itself, although beautifully rendered, seems less dynamic than the story or the heroes and villains involved. The character models and lighting effects are especially nice though. Of course graphics this good come with a price, in this case in the form of loading times. While not the worst I’ve experienced, the Witcher 3’s loading times are far from the best either, and can become especially frustrating if you have trouble with a particular fight and end up dying multiple times in a row.

Dying a lot is something you should probably plan on doing too, at least if you intend to play on the toughest difficulty setting. While it’s not quite Dark Souls level masochism, early fights especially will be tough going, and you will be easy meat until you’re able to gear up and research the wide array of skills, bombs, potions and upgrades that can turn a pitched battle in your favor. Turning down the difficulty a bit made combat a little more palatable early on, but at higher levels it lost some luster and made me feel overpowered. I’d find myself button mashing more than anything, instead of employing the more calculating dodge and strike methods I’d previously needed to survive.

All said, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is a must buy for any adult fan of action-RPG games (and I do mean adult, we’re talking near Game of Thrones amounts of nudity and violence here). Aside from a very few complaints, the game is full of positives. It looks outstanding, there’s tons of side quests, a robust harvesting/crafting system, and even a collectible card game called Gwent that’s played by several of the innkeepers and merchants across a huge world that’s yours to explore. There is a lot of quality content here. If you haven’t played it yet, I encourage you to look for The Witcher 3 at your local Slackers today!

4.5-star-turtle