What number of useless kings is simply too many useless kings? That’s the query on the coronary heart of The Witcher 2: Assassins Of Kings. I imply, the clue’s within the title. Maybe the larger query is, will you be part of the ranks of the titular monarch manglers? And it’s a doozy of a query. In a world already destabilised by a rush of regicides, what occurs when one of many final reg-es standing is a baddie? It pitches Geralt’s king-saving mission in opposition to your ethical code and makes for certainly one of gaming’s best ethical quandaries. And the actually loopy bit? There’s a 50/50 probability you’ll by no means see it in any respect.
You see, this explicit drawback arises on the finish of Chapter Two, an act fully outlined by a call made on the finish of Chapter One. Whether or not you facet with forest folks, the Scoia’tael, or their quite-racist (however infinitely higher dressed) oppressors, the Blue Stripes, decides which facet of a subsequent struggle Geralt finally ends up combating on. And this isn’t an arbitrary military reskin, or waved away with expository cleverness, however turns into the meat of the sport. Bespoke missions, unique maps, penalties that’ll echo by this story and the following… it’s a fracturing of the timeline on a scale than most sane designers would run from.
In impact, it’s two campaigns for the value of 1 – and the tales department out even additional when you’re in your respective camp. It’s the one RPG I’ve performed 4 instances and had a genuinely distinct expertise each time. Dragon Age‘s origin tales have the same vibe, however are nowhere close to as thorough. So, sure: when you performed it as soon as, you may not ever should cope with the naughty king in query. (I’m intentionally avoiding naming him for apparent spoiler causes. However those that have performed the sport will certainly agree that letting him go along with thoughts to carry him down in The Witcher three, just for the sod to die off-screen, was disappointing.)
The Witcher 2 is significantly shorter and extra linear than its successor. As a lot as I miss the wafty timber of these later, open fields, I like how the shorter runtime channels you between its diverging storylines extra effectively. While you’ve constructed two entire campaigns, holding the size to a well mannered 25 hours means individuals are extra more likely to see each. However greater than a easy bang in your buck proposition, the Chapter Two break up is an opportunity to get to know each character, good friend and foe (then reversed while you swap sides), in a stage of element hardly ever afforded by these tales. Attempt strolling a mile of their footwear earlier than you lop off their toes with a metal sword, and all that. I’ve spent for much longer in different worlds, certain, however there are few I do know as nicely The Witcher 2.
I’d prefer to see CD Projekt Crimson embrace that brevity once more; to see story stuffed with consequence is usually finest informed shortly, to encourage the retelling. Make Cyberpunk 2077 20 hours lengthy, however the densest 20 hours in videogame historical past. Failing that, at the least give me a horrible cyber-king to chuck down a cyber-well. I nonetheless really feel dangerous for letting The Witcher 2’s rancid reg off the hook. (If you wish to see when you’re fabricated from sterner stuff, finest play the Enhanced Edition, accessible on GOG and Steam.)