The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt: PS4 Review
Developer: CD Projekt Red
Massively big is a massive understatement.
Amid a wave of hype and an even bigger one of expectation, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt wildly delivers on its premise of a fantasy open world adventure that mixes Game of Thrones style sensibility (sex, violence, fantasy) with questing to make the Lord of The Rings blush.
You play Geralt of Rivia, a Witcher and hunter of monsters in the world of the Northern Kingdoms, who's forced to try and save Ciri, Geralt's adopted charge and who could be the key to allowing seriously nasty creatures into the world within if she's not rediscovered.
To say that The Witcher is immersive is to do it a major injustice; the game's depth and ability to sink you into the world of fantasy is nothing short of immediate. From the moment the game begins to the second you step outside to behold the world beyond, you can't escape the world you're virtually inhabiting. Views of valleys, or mountains adorned with buildings feel like they have real depth and beauty, like some of Peter Jackson's finest brought to life.
And it's not just the atmospherics which work incredibly well in The Witcher - it's the people which inhabit it as well that add to the feel of it. Not everyone is always happy to see Geralt entering their world, and it's this level of murkiness of character which adds to the feel of a role-playing game that hits its highs. Fighting is sometimes necessary and may take a little time to master and level up (early tutorials bring newbies to the game with ease) but it's worth the investment in Geralt as he begins to climb the scales of destruction.
It's not just humans that will require fighting - this is, after all, a fantasy world and monsters inhabit it. You need more skills and prowess to take them on and sometimes, it can be a frustrating experience if you make one wrong move. Beasties though graphically impressive, are formidable forces and spending much time ogling them won't get you through.
Side-quests also take a lot of your time as well - it's upto you whether you dive fully into them and embrace them - but in part, they are necessary for the main story to ensure progression, but in a game where you're already spending excessive time for completion, there's potentially an argument that just maybe they could be a little more optional.
All in all, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is a massive game, a game that commands your time and demands your investment (this review's written with completion nowhere near in sight) but as a role-playing experience, it's second to none. Granted, there are a few frame issues scattered here and there, but that's potentially due to the scale of what CD Projeckt Red was trying to achieve - animation and voice work is evocative and does much to immerse you in the Northern Kingdoms.
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is an experience, an impressive line in the sand for the genre and a game to spend your entire life in.