In this digital adaptation of CD Projekt RED’s own The Witcher Adventure Game board game, franchise fans will know the four selectable player characters well – Geralt of Rivia (the Witcher himself), Triss Merigold the Sorceress, Yarpen Zigrin the Dwarven Warrior, and Dandelion the Bard.
Each character has unique skills and multiple ways of overcoming obstacles, but you decide what to do and when. Do you fight your way to victory, call on your charm, or try your hand at diplomacy? You can bring enemies around to your point of view with a sword as Geralt – or bribe them with gold and the threat of powerful friends as Dandelion. If a situation calls for strength in numbers, Yarpen has his own fellowship of dwarves to command, and Triss can rely on her expert skill with magic to save the day. The game aims at replayability, as every protagonist has its own deck of Development Cards, so each time you play you can discover something new by trying a different character and experimenting with different builds. There are also a good variety of quests that invite players to hunt monsters, earn gold and interact with the characters they meet in a web of alliances and treachery. Decide whether you’ll help the other players or look after your own interests first, and keep an eye on your friends’ progress while you carefully work your way towards victory.
Essentially, the main aim of The Witcher Adventure Game is to earn victory points. Victory points are earned by completing quests, and whoever has the most at the end, wins. Each quest comes with a mission that must be completed, with the main mission earning you the most points but with a few quick points available from slightly easier side quests. You spend each turn by taking up to two actions, chosen from six options that include investigating the area, developing as a character, travelling or fast travelling, resting, or using a special ability.
Coming in to it, I was excited. I love the witcher Series, I love the story, the lore, the characters – it’s pure escapism. It seemed to me that a playable choose-your-own-adventure type of game would make a great addition to the franchise. But ultimately, what I found was a dull, empty experience. The Witcher Adventure Game is very repetitive, with very little in the way of actual story. Because it’s based on the board game, it was always going to be hard to flesh it out. But even with the potential flexibility of a digital version, where was the narration, the sylized cutscenes that fans of the main series are used to? Not here, unfortunately. I would have personally liked Iorveth the elf to have taken the place of Dandelion in the game, and let Dandelion do what he does best – narrate the story. Considering the depth of the franchise’s back story (books by Andrzej Sapkowski, a film, at least three solid games) players are given next to nothing. Possibly this is because the game has followed an incestuous path, from the main CRPG series, to its own spin-off board game, back to this, a digital version of the boardgame of the computer game.
When you get down to it, the Witcher stories, in all their forms, are all about Geralt, so it’s hard to see why he isn’t he the main focus here. It’s unlikely that anyone has ever thought ‘I wish I could play The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings from Triss’s point of view’, and as implemented here, it proves that its not a great idea. The central oddity of The Witcher Adventure Game is that, while the four characters are always companions working together, here they are effectively working against each other to win the game. Poor Dandelion seems to get his ass kicked by every monster, troll and ghoul he encounters – I spent most of my time healing him just so he could get smashed up again in the next round, waiting for Geralt to nip over and help him out. Yes, it’s a digital version of a board game, so the drawing of cards and rolling of dice are unpredictable events, but the number of times I felt as though I’d been shafted (something other reviewers have mentioned too) strangled some of the fun out of it. It’s also quite cruel that you can take hits before a battle even starts, that other characters can draw cards that effect everyone regardless of whether they want it or not, and thus unexpectedly find yourself in a bad situation, and that the game will continue to pummel you without respite. Don’t even think of drawing a Chance card as they’ll nearly always have a negative effect.
It’s hard to see who The Witcher Adventure Game is aimed at. Fans of the main CRPG series or the books may feel let down, and novice board gamers will be failed by a shocking tutorial that speaks in a rush, too fast to register in one go and leaving you with no feel for what’s going on. A practice mode to give you a grasp of the basics before starting your first game would have been good here. I also can’t see hardcore board gamers loving this too much either, due to the game’s overall flat narrative. Casual gamers may also be frustrated by the lack of a Save option, so if you decide to play a long game you’d better stick with it, or leave it running in the background. Most likely, the fun is all in the multiplayer, playing it with friends on Teamspeak with a few beers for a nice, relaxed gaming night. Unfortunately, I didn’t get a chance to experience that, but the Offline mode didn’t really convince me to go any further.
I don’t as a rule play board game conversions on PC (Talisman, Space Hulk et al), because I find that they don’t translate so well to our computer screens. But because of the strength of the source material, I did think that I might have found an exception to the rule. Instead, all it did was frustrate me more than I thought a game could.
what we say
- Visuals – 70
- Sound – 70
- Playability – 50
It’s very pretty and sounds great but that aside it’s hard to see who The Witcher Adventure Game is aimed at. Fans of the main CRPG series or the books may feel let down, and novice board gamers will be failed by a shocking tutorial that speaks in a rush, too fast to register in one go and leaving you with no feel for what’s going on.’