Have you watched the video? Yes? Good. Because The Witcher series is probably one of my favourite fantasy RPG's. And this is a beautiful intro sequence.
A friend once said to me, "Once you've finished the game then you can read the books."
To which my response was, "What do you mean WHEN I've finished the game? I read the books before I played the game in preparation."
He replied, "Really? You've read some obscure, Polish author?"
There's no real response here that didn't make me sound incredibly geeky, so I said, "Well, not in Polish. I read the translations..."
It doesn't really make it better does it?
Either way, I will admit that I read the (English translations) of Andrzej Sapkowski's books before I played the first game by CD Projekt RED. One of the best things about the correlation between the books and the games is that whilst they are set in the same universe and share some of the elements and most obviously, characters, the games do not specifically follow the narrative of any book in the series. They certainly draw from major events within however, and so reading the books beforehand gives you a real sense of the characters. Returning to many of them in the games thus becomes like greeting old friends, and hearing about their adventures since you saw them last.
The Witcher as a series is filled with violence, sex, racism, bigotry, war - all the things that immediately flag it as "mature" content.
It investigates many of these issues subtly, and in the games you are forced to make a choice - side with the rebels who kill innocents because they are being oppressed, or side with the oppressors whose hatred of the rebels is based purely on the fact that they form a part of the non-human races.
In the first game you are also given the option of collecting "cards" for each woman in the series that you seduce. Unsurprisingly this met with a bit of controversy, not only because of the overly sexualised objectification of the women in the cards, but also the collector factor implies that these are trophies in the same way that monsters can be collected as trophies. The parallels drawn between the "monsters" and the women, become glaringly obvious.
And interestingly, even though on a fundamental level I recognised that this was wrong, I still wanted to collect the cards. I even had a long involved discussion with another female gamer friend of mine (complete with sideways glances from passersby overhearing our conversation) about which cards we'd collected. Or more accurately, which girls we'd "shagged".
I'm not going to speculate here as to what that means - it requires a great deal more thought than I'm willing to give it at the moment, however it certainly deserves time and contemplation and this is likely something for a later post when I've had a chance to get my thoughts in order.
Is it true and fitting to Geralt's character in The Witcher series? I would say yes. Geralt is, to put it bluntly, somewhat of a slut. He experiences love, but he also appears to have no problem giving in to temptation when it presents itself to him on a silver platter.
What is also rather telling is that this promiscuity on Geralt's part, and the collection of the trophies was cut from The Witcher 2. Whether this was public pressure, or just as a part of Geralt exploring his closer relationship with Triss I'm not sure, but they no longer make their appearance in the second game.
Either way, I'm looking forward to immersing myself in the next English translation of Sapkowski's series. In the meantime I'll amuse myself by further pondering this question of book to game translation, and whether the objectification of the women is on the part of the author or the game developers.
Find out more about the (English) books: The Last Wish and Blood of Elves unless you can read Polish, but you can also find out the outlines etc over here
You can also catch my review of The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings Enhanced Edition for XBox in the May edition of Gamecca Magazine