The Good: Deep game that gives you free reign, good story, simple combat system, lots to do, looks decent
The Bad: Doesn't give you much direction, feels like the game is against all the time, lots of overly complicated tid bits, dull voice acting, story is full of too much filler, extremely difficult
I love action RPGs and The Witcher had a lot of promise when it came out. This game is really for the hardcore due to the fact that the game relies on you to decide what to do and never really tells you what to do except what your missions are. It's very hard to describe just what The Witcher is trying to do, but it seems to have trouble doing it. Most RPGs are simple with a map, inventory, leveling up, buying items, weapons, and armor from townsfolk etc., but The Witcher makes this a bit more complicated.
To get started I want to get the quest system out of the way. You can check your quests and track them on your map, but not all quests are clear and they're a mess. You'll end up with over 20 quests at some points and most of them are completed once you complete the chapter so they aren't really quests. This becomes very frustrating because you never know what you're supposed to do with those except ignore them. Side quests are obtained by talking to certain people, but not all of them are clear and can really leave you clueless as to what to do and this is one of the most important parts of RPGs are the quests.
The Witcher has an alchemy system, and it seems RPGs just can't get an alchemy system down right that isn't over complicated. You can find ingredients throughout the world by collecting herbs, or finding them on dead enemies. You can't pick certain plants until you read a book at it, and you can't make certain potions until you obtain the recipes for them. See how this game works against you? Finding these books and potions is a real pain since it's like finding a needle in a haystack. Once you do get a recipe you have to aqcuire the ingredients for it and this consists of a few components as well as some sort of alcohol base. This also includes health potions and after I gave up on the game half way through chapter three I still couldn't find enough ingredients to make a health potion.
While alchemy is really complicated and puts a damper on game play magic is the same way. You have an endurance meter and using one of your seven signs can drain this, so you need a potion to refill it faster, and maybe a potion is temporarily increase your stats to get through a tough boss fight. You never feel strong enough even when I quit at level 17 I was still getting my ass handed to me, and upgrading weapons and armor is another pain.
You can to collect meteorites and give three or more to a blacksmith and you can upgrade your steel or silver blade. Finding these meteorites is a pain and usually not all blacksmiths will just make the weapon they need a valuable jewel or something of the sort. Finding gold (Orens) will be a huge issue since most of the quests are backtracking back and worth between places and only about 40% fighting. Even at chapter three I still couldn't get enough gold to buy armor.
Besides this the combat system is pretty solid. You have three different styles you can use which are strength, speed, and group. You can switch to each on the fly and timing is down by clicking when the icon turns into a flaming swords, and this allows powerful combos. The fighting system doesn't really go beyond that so it gets dull after awhile. When you level up you can upgrade stats and different attributes, but you always feel the game is always more powerful than you no matter what you do. Leveling up also isn't a simple matter since you have to find an Inn or a campfire and meditate, and this is also the only way you can use alchemy. Why did the developers make a game that works against you? Why can't I just find a potion and drink it like every other RPG? Why do I have to have a flint to light a campfire?
The game starts out fairly easy, but once it dumps into the world it feels linear and you don't know what to do. There are a bunch of just little annoying things like you can't see in a dark cave unless you drink a cat potion or carry a torch. A lot of the dialog is good, but the game is full of monotone voice acting. While the story is good depicting a man named Geralt of Rivia who is one of the last Witchers is trying to find a friend and kill an evil group called the Salamandra it feels like there's too much filler. The game is truly for the hardcore due to the open reign it gives players. The game looks pretty decent, but nothing close to next-gen, and just feels a bit dated. For $20 you get a lot of game here, but some people may be lured in and quickly let down.