by William Thompson
reviewed on PC
The sign post
Whether it is atop a horse, on foot, or even aboard a boat, travel across the realm is pure joy. I spent plenty of time riding Roach, the trusty steed, as it was often the quickest way to get from one point to another. Fortunately, with such a large area to cover, the includes Fast Travel points which activate once Geralt has spotted them as he happened came by. They are frequent enough to ensure that travelling to even the far reaches of maps and back again are not tedious.
That things remain interesting is in large part due to The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt's stunning visuals. Right from the opening cinematic - in which Geralt spends some quality time with Yennefer - you know that the world of Northern Kingdoms is going to be absolutely glorious. Splashing along the beachfront, walking through the forests or climbing the mountainous regions, you would think you were sightseeing rather than playing a game. The variation in scenery is beyond comparison and some of the views will take your breath away. Standing atop a high vantage point as you watch the sun go down gives the game a serene feel, in stark contrast to the overall darkness of the narrative and the first time a whale flips his tail out of the water as you are speeding by in your small boat... there's no describing the sensation. Add to this a beautifully done day and night cycle and you feel like you are traversing a living world where shadows lengthen as the day comes to a close.
The game is technically sound too. The only real issue I have had with The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt was related to the audio. Prior to the first patch and some minor tweaking of settings, I noticed some lip-sync issues. Geralt and fellow Witcher, Vesemir would be speaking, but their lips would continue to move after the audio clip was finished. It was like watching a foreign film dubbed into English. That small early issue aside, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt's audio is absolutely superb and complements the stunning visuals perfectly. The themed music, the fully voiced characters and the minute details such as the NPC chatter as you wander past, all give the game a very polished presentation.
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt comes complete with three different endings, two of which I will immediately be going back to complete once I've done writing up my review. The endings are determined by the choices you made throughout the game, but they do more than just influence the end game. Key moments impact greatly on the lives of certain inhabitants of the realm. I know, that sounds quite broad but I don’t want to give away any spoilers.
The baton (or sword) is passed…
I’ve been a reviewer on this site for a decade and I’ve never given a game a perfect score. A number that have tempted me, but The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is the first game that has me writing the double digit score. The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is PC gaming personified. It would have been a great game with just its wonderful deep story, large open world and stunning visuals. Yet the musical score and fully voiced dialogue complete the deal and make it a masterpiece. It grabbed my attention right from the opening cinematic and kept it steady all the way through to the conclusion. And although this is the end of Geralt’s saga, I have a feeling that the baton may have been passed to a new Witcher. In the meantime, I'm going to hop back on my horse for another adventure in the Northern Realms. Maybe, I'll try not to be the friendly local Witcher this time around and go badass instead.
Wonderful story, great gameplay and beautiful visuals
What, that late already?