My husband and I are in the habit of playing games together and it kind of fluxes which one of us is holding the controller. This time, he was, so I only have his word to take on how this game controls and I'm honestly not inclined to go back and try it for myself. And just so you know, we only made it two hours into this game and that's legitimately enough for me to feel like I never want to touch it again, that is how hilariously bad it is. But, anyway, click 'read more' for the list of sins.
Sin Number One: The Horrible, Horrible Tutorial
This game doesn't think you can figure anything out on your own. A chunk of the time we spent on it involved this earnestly stupid tutorial that explained every little action you could possibly take including waiting and had nothing to do with the rest of the story at all.
There wasn't really an option to skip it. The controls were not that complicated. This was one of those situations where the game just kind of assumed all it's players were stupid and that even the most asinine minutiae needed to be explained to them.
Sin Number Two: Where Are All The Women?
Like I get that this isn't your target audience, but it was really egregious in this case. Two hours of the game and mind you there are a TON of background NPCs and bit speaking parts in it, and I counted exactly 9 women before we stopped playing.
Three of them had speaking roles. The first one you see her entire rack the first time you meet her and she and the protagonist are about to start canoodling when this guard walks in. And he just stares at her boobs. And I'm like 'wow that's uncomfortable' but then he just keeps doing it the entire time even after she wraps a sheet around herself? Like XDDD I'm not kidding it's just hilarious how intently this guy stares at her chest the whole time and the protagonist doesn't seem to even care?
The second woman you meet in this game, Ves, is I guess part of overly-serious-dude's army and he calls her in twice to unlock a lock that he should have been capable of unlocking himself and I guess they just wanted to show she obeys orders? Oh and she has an absurdly low cut shirt that you can't make me believe for a single second a soldier would wear. The rest of them have uniforms. Why doesn't she have a uniform? Anyway they talk about her and she gets to say like four words later. I want to say I'm sure she does something later in the game but to be honest I don't have that much faith in them.
The third woman with a speaking role is the mother of the dead king. She's got most of her dress stripped off her top and the game specifically angles the camera so every time she's talking it's like "hehe boobies, look, there are boobies in this game". And like, half a point for letting her talk about some plot stuff, but they could have cut this scene and it wouldn't have mattered at all.
So four and five, women. They're prisoners. One of them nearly gets raped by a guard. The game doesn't let you let them out of their cells or talk to them they just kind of exist as awkward set pieces and "hey this setting is dark and edgy because rape happens, haha boobies".
Woman number six is an elf that you don't get to see the tits of but is on screen for under two seconds in a crowd scene and women seven and eight are random chicks in the town we stopped playing in, one of which is obviously a prostitute and the other of which felt really weird in her full dress like she just didn't belong in this setting.
There are also two other women mentioned that you don't get to see but no cookie for them because even though they have an effect on the plot they aren't actually in the game. I am, of course, talking about Yennefer and the mother of the two kids the king is trying to get at.
And I guess Anais exists (and further research has revealed she gets kidnapped again later so that's great I guess). So if I'm being really generous, 9. Out of fucking tons of people in the backgrounds of scenes.
Sin Number Three: It's Like, Really Rapey.
So within the first two hours of this game, there is a heavily implied almost rape on camera (of a female prisoner by a male guard) and two instances of the characters just casually talking about rape that had happened or was happening off screen and nobody seemed bothered by this at all. And on one hand, alright, medieval war scenario. Like, y'all still don't get a pass for that because it's still gross but fine.
And then Geralt, his super serious turban friend (did we ever actually get his name? I am being informed it is Vernon) and Triss are like, walking through the woods and get attacked by elves. Mind you we saw her blow up a massive door earlier with no trouble but she casts one spell and turns the arrows that are about to pincushion our protagonists into butterflies and apparently she's exhausted and passes out but can still talk at this point?
Anyway the entire walk to town after that is one big extended joke about Vernon (who has not showed any signs of being a pervert until this point and has made no jokes and been totally serious) grabbing her ass without permission. She even at one point blatantly tells him to stop and he's like "hehe ass" and they KEEP JOKING ABOUT THIS THE ENTIRE WAY TO TOWN.
And then when they GET to town she's suddenly fine for some reason and the guy they talk to about the town is like "Oh and there's a BROTHEL".
Like okay we get it sex exists game, calm down. But like this isn't enough, Triss then also has to mention the brothel. And before anyone starts in like "That's not rapey, those women are being paid", we'll assume for a second that it's actually not rapey (and put a pin in that for a later discussion), and just accept that after the rest of this game's very 15-year-old "hehe boobies" approach to everything else, I don't buy that this brothel had any relevance on the rest of the plot.
(PS, I just looked it up and I was right. You can buy whores at this brothel and there is literally no story reason for it to be there other than the writers going "haha boobies!". Guys, if you're going to make an erotica just make an erotica. Or like, have a quest in the brothel or something.)
Sin Number Four: Triss is Not Believable As Someone Who Can Blow Things Up With Her Mind
Okay, listen. Assume for a moment that I'm a woman in the medieval ages that can blow things up with my mind. (And btw, her blowing things up with her mind and owning her sexuality are her only two character traits as far as I can tell).
Like, I understand that if you have exploding powers, you aren't going to whip them out every time the smallest thing happens. But people are way too willing to disrespect and piss her off. Like, at some point, you have to remind them that you have the ability to reduce them to a piece of crispy charcoal. I mean, except for the part where apparently casting one spell is enough to tap her out so that she can't walk but is still perfectly capable of wisecracking.
I'm just saying, anyone else with that amount of power wouldn't put up with the general way the setting treats her. Like, I sort of want to know what went into the decision to have her bullied out of the city when Geralt leaves.
Writer 1: ...well. We want to have her in this plotline.
Writer 2: Oh, that's easy, they're lovers. She cares about his well-being, she could just go with him because she wants to see him succeed.
Writer 1: That's stupid, it's much better if she gets bullied.
Also I totally just pulled up the wiki to get more information for that snarky re-imagining...and found out she gets kidnapped later in the game? I'm sorry wait what? Somebody...looked at this woman who can blow things up with her mind...and decided it was a good idea to abduct her? Did she just conveniently lose her powers then, too?
Except apparently after 10 minutes of making jokes about her butt she gets them back so maybe...she should have just done that?
Anyway, I heard a lot of good things about this game and I really wanted to like it. Like, there's a certain degree of sexualization that I'm used to turning a blind eye to on the grounds that I have played video games with the goal of enjoying them. But I feel like even if that weren't the kind of thing that bothered me, just the sheer amount of immature sex jokes and visual references would have put me off of this one.
Cause...I kind of came in hoping for good world building and story and I feel like what I got was a game that was trying it's hardest to be a porno without actually being a porno.
Megan R. Miller
PS, Torchlighters, coming soon, you should totally pre-order it, I promise it is not trying its hardest to be a porno.