No one sings a more momentous ballad than Dandelion. The Witcher series adaptation from CD Projekt Red sets the standard for storytelling in a medium that traditionally couldn't write itself a convincing fan fiction. The maestros at CD Projekt have crafted another mould-shattering adventure starring The Witcher Geralt, and it's gonna be one helluva time!

Geralt's world has gone wide open and it is vast, beautiful and plentiful. Graphics are next gen trend setting, animation is top notch, but it is the lighting effects in particular that shine. The environments are positively brilliant with dynamic light and shadow, be it the rays of the setting sun cascading through the trees at dusk or the splash of light on a dank cavern wall as you ignite a sconce. Vibrant animations, overly convincing kinesthetics, lip synching and facial animations help to make every scene's actors come alive. Presentation is at an all time high. My only gripe would be that, artistically, the environments lack pizzazz. Stark stone towers and wooden cottages are plain and uninspired. The landscapes of the various regions are largely flat and bland so even the geography is dull. The most visually inspiring region in the game is Skelliger which easily borrows much of its aesthetic from Skyrim yet doesn't manage to be half as captivating. It is a shame that such sophisticated presentation technology is largely wasted on a mediocre aesthetic.

The controls in this game are wonky at best. Certainly unreliable. They manage to be an improvement over Wild Hunt's predecessor but still leave much to be desired. Geralt is a complete spaz, jerking about in fits and starts just to align himself so he can interface with the appropriate interactive hot spot. There are times during scenes when the camera contextually zooms in and movement speed slows, during which movement becomes sluggish and the camera swings about wildly. Otherwise the camera tends to behave itself well enough but it can get shoved up Geralt's backside in cramped confines. On the horse, the camera suffers from the irritating desire to autocorrect itself to face the direction you're moving which turns sightseeing into a migraine.

Speaking of the horse, it controls about as well as anyone can expect a horse to control in a video game, which is to say: poorly. It doesn't jump, tends to balk for no reason and especially on bridges, changes course unwittingly, doesn't navigate obstacles and takes a moment to respond to changes in speed and direction. Combat on horseback is completely useless. Forget that! The horse is completely useless.

Fortunately the controls nail Geralt's running and walking speeds. Somehow running manages to get you where you need to go in a hurry without being impractical in confined spaces or over short distances. The game also lets you run indefinitely unlike most games. Even when crossing a region, simply running around unhindered is preferable to fussing with the godawful horse.

Another major bother, Geralt sure has a hard time falling any distance of roughly half his height for someone who is supposed to be a super enhanced super mutant. Seemingly innocuous falls can end up consuming half your health. Sometimes Geralt averts damage with a tuck n' roll, sometimes he doesn't with no apparent indication as to why not. Turns out the greatest threat a witcher faces is a four foot drop.

Geralt's witcher sense mechanic comes off as a mild gimmick that is largely useless but doesn't feel too intrusive. Although it does seem to suffer from a fair bit of overuse.


In combat the controls fair a bit better. Geralt is swifter and more responsive, but enemies have an irritating tendency to get in cheap shots. Many of them are programmed to just pop up and ram Geralt from behind. They often get to administer series of uninteruptable attacks that Geralt simply can't do a bloody thing about. You just get to sit there and take it. After cutscenes, enemies often get the first strike as a matter of course before Geralt gets done considering whether or not to finally draw his blade. Aiming the crossbow is a matter of luck and you only ever get a vague idea of where a bomb is gonna drop. I don't think it would have killed them to display the arc of a bomb's flightpath. Geralt has a lot of applications in combat to get creative with, from sword and signs to bombs and potions, oils, decoctions and his trusty crossbow. The only witcher gear missing from the last game are traps which were about as useless as *** on a dwarf anyway. Fights are fast and visceral and force you to think on your feet. Combat is half the game so it's a good thing that it is pretty solid.

The Witcher saga's other half is story, and Dandelion's ballad of the witcher Geralt is the best in the business. The narrative is deep, it's complex, it's thematic, it's mature, it's bloody, it's sexual, it's engaging, it's compelling and it is good. Characterization is top notch. Every character is lovingly detailed and presented, each with their own interesting traits, motivations and complex personalities and quirks- all brought to life with brilliant animation, stunning choreography and exceptional voice acting. Geralt stands as a fascinating character to play as. The choices you make all have their own ambiguous results. No cheesy red or blue meter tracks Geralt's place on some obligatory karmic spectrum. Instead you get to see with your own eyes and feel with your own gut the consequences your actions have on the world and on Geralt's associates. And more often than not, the outcome isn't always gonna be entirely preferable. Geralt's world is open wide, but it is also cruel. The story also genuinely cares about your decisions. It will remember them well, and even seemingly inconsequential actions can turn out to have far reaching effects.

The portions where you play as Ciri are abrupt, linear, and simple. Ciri literally has three moves: fast and strong attack and a wonky long distance teleport. She doesn't cast signs, she doesn't have bombs, not even a crossbow. She doesn't level up. Her sections are confined to limited areas and mostly consist of fights, some brief inconsequential conversations and a horse race. To compensate, Ciri does a bunch of flat damage and heals quickly. Her playable moments are dumbed down to the point of being braindead. They're hardly what I'd call a bother, but playing from Ciri's perspective would have been worthwhile if it had been interesting.

Individual sidequests are given plenty of love and attention. There are no menial fetch quests to be embarked upon. Each quest has its own well developed context and players. Though they can feel rather routine, each quest is involved and requires a fair amount of challenge and investment.

There is much to see and do across Witcher 3's vast regions. There are a plethora of quests and contracts, hidden ruins and lost treasures to acquire. As much as can be expected of any open world RPG. And running through the midst of it all is an engaging story with a legion of fascinating characters.

A general lack of polish in the controls is about all that undermines an overall outstanding adventure. A few stumbling blocks aside, Wild Hunt is a proper successor to the adventures of the witcher Geralt. More than that, it stands as a worthy conclusion to The Witcher saga and one of the greatest RPGs of all time.