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The Witcher 3 and the Allure of the Unknown [Community Quick Read]


og:image, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

Nothing is ever (truly) like it seems in The Witcher 3. Its a game where deception is woven neatly into its DNA, back-handed by a serving of false humility, to the point where you find yourself believing everything you are told, only to be bombasted by a twist here, a misunderstanding there, resulting in a game that is the best detective simulator in recent memory.

Most missions begin with a plea from a distressed individual who is either being deceptive or is being deceived. Such cruelty is rampant in the world of Witcher 3 and thus making it a great place for forging greater mysteries. What might seem like a fetch quest soon divulges into a crime scene investigation, only to result in a break-in, slowly creeping towards the discovery of a secret attic with - wait for it - supernatural connections. And like most things supernatural, its usually never clear what it means and the game takes that into account with seriousness. It weighs in acts of doubt, misinterpretation, recklessness, and cluelessness, with varying and enjoyable effects. Geralt is left perplexed, as is the player, a deus ex machina may surface but its effect is the same on Geralt as it is on us. The game essentially keeps us and Geralt on the same page - mostly - and that's the hallmark of a great 'role-playing' game.

With such ambiguity in play, dialogue options have never been this important. I find myself choosing all the optional 'white' dialogue options before even hovering over the story-progressing 'yellow' ones. One is definitely incentivized to play with a detective-esque approach, trusting no one, suspecting everyone, talking to everyone who is willing, and observing all those who not as keen.

Though the Witcher sense lends itself wonderfully to exploring a mission environments, its the commentary by Geralt of Rivia, his insight into monster lore and possible conspiracy theories that truly fleshes out the plots. The amount of freedom in the way Geralt can approach a mission is staggering. The fact that the most basic of side missions - calling them 'side' missions is a tad bit insulting - can task you with determining the fates of individuals, communicates how seriously the game takes its non-playable characters.

I am often reminded of the doubt I felt when deciding on whether to leave Velen and advance to Novigrad or to complete one more side objective. I would eventually decide on the latter, only to discover the mission hiding the remnants of a major Witcher 2 decision. It was then, that I realized that The Witcher 3 is not your average open-world game with a customary main-story punctuated by throw-away side activities; It is a chapter in the life of a Witcher realized with the utmost concern and responsibility.

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