It’s 2002. Having received a nice, round sum of money – which, however, can now be considered modest to say the least – a popular Polish writer, Andrzej Sapkowski gives his blessing to what was at the time an obscure studio from Warsaw – CD Projekt RED – allowing them to create games set in the world he’d created in The Witcher books. Five years later, The Witcher is released to an overwhelmingly positive reception in Poland. Thirteen years after acquiring the rights, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt launches, also to an overwhelmingly positive reception – this time around on the whole globe. In the meantime – and in order to maintain mathematical cohesion of the trilogy – there’s also the release of The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings, which didn’t quite receive an overwhelmingly positive reception anywhere in particular, but we love it nonetheless.
But get this: imagine that it all never happened.
I assume that our dear readers are familiar with the theory of alternate realities and parallel universes. Whoever had the chance to roam the streets of Columbia with “the false prophet,” Booker DeWitt, certainly knows what I’m getting at. I’ll let you in on a secret. We have (“we” meaning the Gamepressure staff) mastered the ancient techniques of accessing the rifts connecting our reality to millions of other dimensions and universes. Needless to say, we’ve thrown some people in there (not against their will), but most of them didn’t come back yet. However, those who did come back brought some incredible news – The Witcher is the multiverse’s favorite game! Or actually, The Witchers are, to be completely exact. After all, the reality can bend and wrap in an infinite number of ways…
We have the utmost pleasure of presenting to you, ladies and gentlemen, the examination of the most interesting, the most bizarre iterations of The Witcher brought from the farthest reaches of alien galaxies (though I’m not quite sure whether all of them are obeying the copyrights – the inter-dimensional creative commons are a true nightmare of legislature). Strap in, grab a beverage and get ready for something out of this world…
The Witcher’s Creed – Everything is true; nothing is permitted
From the explorer’s journal – The Witcher’s Creed in a nutshell:
- The first game from the series by Ubi Projekt;
- A timeless classic;
- Sandbox TPP action game with strong emphasis on stealth;
- The story revolves around a centuries-old conflict between the brotherhood of witchers and the order of sorcerers;
- Total freedom of movement in the open world, thanks to superhuman abilities of the witchers;
The sorcerers and the witchers always liked two things: one is conflict, and the other one – I cannot say. Few people, however, realize that the two factions once were on the brink of open war. The Sorcerer’s Lodge wants to recover a long-lost artifact, which dates back to the years of that conflict. The artifact can give them absolute power over the whole world. They cannot do it alone – however, with the help of Gesmond Rives (which is, in the economical sense, purely voluntary – the help, I mean), they might just have a chance. After finding the ancient formula for the spell developed by Jeremius Animus, they’re able to reach the farthest, darkest corners of the past, using the DNA memory of the protagonist.
The gameplay takes place on two plains: the first is the present, where the witcher explores his jail inside the mysterious tower, Tor Abstergo, trying to steal the secrets of the sorceresses; the other – the more important one – is the past. There, Gesmond explores the memories of George of Kagen, his ancestor and one of the fathers of the brotherhood.
The game is of course set in an open world, and exploration is crucial. The protagonist gradually unveils the map by climbing the towers scattered here and there; this is also the way to discover all sorts of side activities and collectables (griffin feathers, banners, etc.), which provide dozens of hours of pure fun. The game’s full of combat, too – however, it’s divided into two different branches. When George the witcher is fighting with monsters, the mechanics resemble a pureblood slasher – he’s obviously using his silver sword, Signs, bombs, poison darts and other gadgets. He can also extract all kinds of materials from the killed beasts, which are then used in the extensive crafting system.
Things are different when the protagonist has to fight with people – The Witcher’s Creed turns into a real stealth game. The game depicts a point in the history of the brotherhood, when engaging in open conflicts with other people was strictly against the code. Hence, George has to dash across rooftops and avoid being spotted by concealing himself in stacks of hay or in the crowd. There are of course multiple romances available, since George is equally dashing when leaping rooftops and chatting up ladies. However, he has one true love, with whom he was bounded by the thin thread of fate. After spending much time in the past, Gesmond starts projecting George’s love onto one of his custodians (known as the Bleeding Heart effect) – the raven-haired sorceress Jennifer. Will their love survive? Will they find the artifact, giving the Lodge unlimited power? Don’t ask me. I haven’t finished it – it was still in pre-alpha.
Witcher Wars: Battlefront – a stellar spin on the witcher
From the explorer’s journal – Witcher Wars in a nutshell:
- An online action multiplayer game by CDtronic Arts RED;
- All the characters from The Witcher in a single game;
- Naval and land warfare; horses and siege engines; heroes and regular soldiers within a variety of classes;
- A meticulously designed, extensive progression system featuring lootboxes, cards and microtransactions.
The most famous franchise in the entire galaxy makes a huge comeback to your PCs and consoles. Having secured an exclusive deal with Andrzej Sapkowski, CDtronic Arts RED gives you battlefields located in various locations on the Continent, reconstructed by the same people, who gave you Call of Battlefield. The Northern Kingdoms or Nilfgaard? Skellige or Scoia’tael? Choose your faction, define the class of your soldier and join the battle. Distinguishing and heroic deeds in battle may allow you to control one of the legendary heroes.
Aiming at creating the ultimate witcher experience, the authors implemented elements from all kinds of places and times from the universe of The Witcher. Characters such as Vilgefortz and Mousesack, Emhyr var Emreis and queen Calanthe or Letho and Bonhart can face each other in battle. The fighting takes place on numerous arenas, such as Siege of Novigrad, Velen Swamps or Skellige Peak. There are also numerous game modes, where you can not only use diverse melee and ranged weapons (including magic), but also siege engines, horses, boats and other types of contraptions that will turn the battles known from the game into a digital total war.
The best part is still coming, though. Witcher Wars also offers a complex progressions system, which will provide you with constant sense of pride and accomplishment. Get XP and develop your favorite classes and characters to new levels. Collect Gwent cards to expand the combat abilities of your warriors. Earn crowns to unlock new heroes and obtain lootboxes. Be not afraid, though! There are only canonical elements in the game! Customization of characters is not an option – there are no additional skills and items – after all, no one would like to watch Geralt of Rivia wear a pink armor!
Super Witcher Bros. – your girl’s in another castle, witcher!
From the explorer’s journal – Super Witcher Bros. in a nutshell:
- Classic, 3D platformer;
- The biggest locations in the history of the series, filled with collectable stars, contracts and other activities;
- Two-player coop – one player controls Geraldo, the other – Lamberto.
Princess Cirilla was kidnapped! Wretched Eredin Bowser Glas took her to his castle! Haste, Geraldo, go save her!
That’s pretty much it if you think about the introduction to the story of Super Witcher Bros. – the newest installment in the franchise that made Mintendo wildly popular years ago and which still occupies top spots on the lists of bestsellers. Sounds familiar? Sure, you might say that it sounds exactly like something Nintendo has been doing here since the 80s, but that doesn’t mean Geraldo deserves no love, right?
The franchise gathered cult following thanks to the perfect platformer gameplay – which is taken to a whole new level in Super Witcher Bros. The revolution is brought by the open structure of the worlds visited by the affable witcher in a red jacket. The quasi-sandbox maps offer a myriad of activities – stars to collect, mini contracts to complete and so on. What’s more, a new dimension is added to the gameplay with the ability to control other creatures, using the new Sign – Cappy.
The chase after the kidnapper takes players through countless and diverse worlds – from the idyllic greenery of Velen, through the city of Novigrad, snowy Skellige and the mysterious Tir na Lia, where the wicked Eredin Bowser Glas is holding princess Cirilla locked in an elvish castle. Let’s also not forget that the game can be played in both singleplayer and coop. In the second variant, Geraldo is accompanied by his best mate – Lamberto.
Witcher Age: Inquisition – the greater the mass, the better the RPG
From the explorer’s journal – Witcher Age in a nutshell:
- Another installment in the acclaimed series by BioWarekt RED;
- A classic RPG with tactical combat;
- After a more intimate adventure taking place in and about Vizima in the previous installment, the story comes back to macro scale;
- As a witcher attempting to save the world before the Conjunction of the Spheres, the players are in control of the title organization – looking for allies, developing their stronghold and expanding their party with new members, whom you can, of course, date.
How is it that every time the world is in danger of some unthinkable disaster, everything suddenly starts going to hell and succumbs in chaos? The Northern Kingdoms and Nilfgaard are preparing for another war, the witch hunters are tormenting the sorcerers, incinerating stakes all over the continent, and people can’t seem to cease their quarrels. Who should carry the burden of saving the world from the impeding Conjunction of the Spheres? Who can close the rifts to other dimensions, which are willy-nilly opening in random spots all around the place? Looks like there’s no one who can do that… no one but WITCHERS!
Of course, the monster hunters cannot handle the crisis on their own – they need allies, any help they can get. So the first part of the game consists of roaming the realm and forging alliances with all kinds of factions. The witcher (created by players in the character editor), and his or her friends (the Inquisition), have to exercise diplomatic aptitude in negotiations and solve local conflicts… often resorting to their swords. Only after bringing order to the world and recruiting a large enough army under their own banner will the player be able to sail to Undvik, one of the Skellige islands, to finally confront the evil standing behind the Conjunction.
Although the story encompasses the whole Continent, the developers decided not to make this game a sandbox; instead, they have prepared a slew of individual locations, all of which are substantial in size and work just like a sandbox. Each region features numerous activities – quests, contracts, brawling, exploring, etc.
As befits a game by BioWarekt RED, the centerpiece is completing the team and developing relations with your allies. In time, the witcher will be able to get to know them more closely, help them solve their problems (in loyalty missions), until they finally craft a true friendship, or even love. The information isn’t coming from official sources, but we’ve been able to learn that the game features 16-hours worth of all kinds of sex scenes – all recorded in mo-cap studios.
Needless to say, the new Witcher Age also features another trademark of the series – the difficult moral choices, which determine the outcome of the events. A nice novelty in Inquisition is the possibility of building your own stronghold. The title organization chooses the skyhold of Kaer Morhen as their HQ – it can be gradually extended and embellished according to individual tastes. From there, the player controls the operations of their agents around the entire Continent, with help of three trusted advisors: the master spy Dandelion, Yennefer the ambassador, and general Zoltan Chivay; the players can also judge the convicts caught during different missions.
Witcheric II: Night of the Wolf – welcome to the Valley (of Flowers)!
From the explorer’s journal – Gerthic II in a nutshell:
- Hardcore, 3rd-person RPG straight from the German masters of craft – CDRanha Bytes;
- The protagonist is a nameless witcher, who loses (possibly after excessive consumption of the White Gull) all of his equipment and skills from the first game;
- Set in Dol Blathanna – the Valley of Flowers;
- Before saving the world from the invaders (pure evil personified), the hero has to join any of the three camps: the Southern, then Northern, or the Mountain Camp.
The nameless witcher is back! After defeating the hibernated renegade sorcerer, referred to by the cultists of the Lionheaded Spider as the Sleeper, the protagonist has to face the evil that wants to devour the whole world. This time, the white-haired swordsman without a name will have to decide whether the fate of the world is more important than the witcher code – the invading army consists mainly of dragons, higher vampires and King Henselt (none of whom the witchers are allowed to kill)… what’s going to be the outcome?
However, there’s a long way ahead of him before he can ultimately answer the question and choose his favorite of all shades – the shade of gray, quite abundant these days on the Continent. That’s because he has lost his memory when fighting the Sleeper; in fact, that duel almost cost him his life. He was, however, snatched out of the paws of the grim reaper by no one else, but his true friend, Vilgefortz the Necromancer, who has transported the nameless witcher to the tower in Dol Blathanna (a name causing much confusion among the translators in different parts of the galaxy).
Here, the protagonist sets out into the dangerous world, starting from ground-up: scrambling for the tiniest amount of XP, the most meager weapons and any allies he can find. Make no mistake – the core of the story revolves around different factions, of which one will eventually embrace the witcher. Dol Blathanna is of course a war zone (not only between the good and evil) – who you side with is going to determine the fate of the world.
On one side of the fence, there’s the Northern Camp, on the other – the Southern one. On none of the sides – the Mountain Camp of elves and dwarves, who just want to smell flowers and melt iron, hence they’re equally mean to the Northeners, and the Black Ones (and to each other – just in case). Of course, each faction offers different skillsets and lures you with powerful gear – the nameless witcher will have to think the matter over more than once, before offering his sword to anyone.
The Elder Scrolls V: Skellige – today a prisoner, tomorrow a witcher!
From the explorer’s journal – TES V: Skellige in a nutshell:
- Sandbox FPP RPG by Cedestha Softworks… RED;
- Set on the title archipelago – in the coldest province of the Empire of Nilfgaard, ravaged by a civil war;
- Complete freedom in shaping your adventure – a slew of factions that want you to do something for them (Guild of Warriors, Guild of Druids);
- The protagonist is a prisoner, who discovers he (or she) is the legendary Unexpected Child.
The thing happens 200 years after saving the world in the very heart of Nilfgaard, among the towers of white gold, in The Elder Scrolls IV. Now the indivisible rule of the Empire over the whole Continent becomes threatened – the land is shaken by a civil war spurred by the elves of the Aen Seidhe Dominium… to make matters worse, the dragons are starting to appear again.
That’s when the story begins. The anonymous protagonist comes to Skellige aboard a prisoner drakkar, making landfall in the Imperial port of Kaer Trolde, where they have to await their execution. As you could guess, the thing never happens – the protagonist helps him or herself to freedom amidst the chaos caused by an attack of a dragon.
The protagonist then finds that they are the chosen one, the person that ages ago was prophesized by Ithlinne the Oracle to arrive on the island, which you can read about in the latest issue of the Elder Scrolls. The Unexpected Child, which is the official title of the hero, is going to learn the most secret witcher skills – swordsmanship, Signs, potions, all those things – in order to face the dragons and save the world.
However, saving the world is just one of the many missions one can accept. The player can freely explore the archipelago of Skellige, strewn with villages, cities, ruins, crypts and underwater caves. They can also undertake all sorts of missions given by all sorts of factions – The Companions of Undvik, the Guild of Druids, the Lodge of Sorcerers or the Shrine of the Eternal Fire. Moreover, you can shape the future of the Empire itself by siding with either of the warring armies.
The lack of a strict system for developing classes provides the opportunity of creating your own playstyle by combining different skills. There’s nothing preventing you from swapping the silver sword with a silver battle axe or a silver assassin’s dagger – or from giving up melee weapons altogether and becoming a witcher-sorcerer, master of chaos. Bottom line: Cedestha’s made something special.
The White Wolf Among Us – the witcher in episodes
From the explorer’s journal – The White Wolf Among Us in a nutshell:
- Another episodic release from Telltale Projekt, based on the comic books by Dark Horse;
- Set in Toussaint – Geralt of Rivia and the Big Bad Wolf are tracking down a murderer, who’s threatening all inhabitants of the Land of Fables;
- Emphasis on cinematic narration and moral choices; mechanics limited to a minimum.
Every person from Toussaint knows the stories and tales of the Big Bad Wolf, Balbina the Goose, Little Match Girl or the Three Bears. Not every person, however, realizes that the protagonists of these tales really do exist – and live among them, in the real world. Such blissful unawareness is warranted by a spell, which gives the Fablings (the inhabitants of the Land of a Thousand Fables) a human form. Executing the obligation of using the spell and policing the realm is up to the Big Bad Wolf, aka Bigby.
Things have been going quite smoothly for a while, but eventually, the peace is stirred and the realm shaken by a wave of gruesome murders – among the victims are also some of the magical creatures. Facing a crisis like no other before, Bigby decides to ask for the most unlikely help he could imagine – Geralt of Rivia, the killer of monsters who’s just visiting Toussaint. Together, they have to track down the murderer in the dark corners of Beauclair before more people and creatures get harmed. Since vampires are likely to be part of the whole issue, the abilities of both Wolves (the Big Bad and the White) will undergo a hard trial.
The gameplay in The White Wolf Among Us utilizes the usual Telltale Projekt’s formula. We get a narration-based adventure game, in which cinematic cut-scenes; dialogues and difficult moral choices are the mainstay. Exploration and solving riddles were limited to a bare minimum; all that is seasoned with some QTE-based action sequences. The game was divided into five episodes, released every couple of weeks. The decisions and their consequences are carried to subsequent episodes, and oftentimes lead to totally different outcomes… at least, according to the developers.
Story true and genuine
Hope that you’ve enjoyed our April Fools special. Please remember that this article is dedicated to all those, who weren’t fortunate enough to come back from other dimensions… on the other hand, they might just have liked it there.
Enjoy the break, have fun playing and stay safe. If you have any information on some other Witcher mashups, we’ll be happy to hear them. Happy Easter!
Draug | Gamepressure.com