If you like The Witcher 3, turn back. I’m warning you.
I’ve been spending about two months trying to trudge through The Witcher 3, 30 minutes a day. I’m currently level 9. I always play as a completionist, so maybe no surprises that I’m still going through the Bloody Baron quest (which is recommended at level 6).
The things that initially put me off about The Witcher are still there, and they still put me off. The sexism and the objectification of women. None of the prominent women in the game can apparently fasten their blouses and keep showing nipples or as in the case of Ciri, a lacy bra. I’m wondering where the dudebros that safeguard games from women-as-protagonists are when it comes to that lacy bra. Surely, they should be standing on the barricades shouting about how the bra in its current shape wasn’t invented until 1914 and that Ciri should be wearing what Henri de Mondeuille so elegantly called “breast bags”, if anything.
I suspect, however, that the gentlemen proposing that women don’t exist in certain games are just as keen on having women exist in certain other games, provided they serve the purpose of objects to look at. In other words, the sexism does not go away.
The longer I play, the jankier the game feels. I was annoyed at the hair trigger movement of Geralt when I started playing and I suspect that my short gaming sessions, paired with playing other games, are not helping in establishing muscle memory.
I do see some glimpses of what I suspect other players enjoy. Some of the story is interesting if somewhat hypocritical. Condemning a man who beats his wife is apparently okay and good, but treating women as objects to be ogled is also fine. The reason why men beat their wives is because women aren’t seen as fully human, so there is kind of a conflict there. I doubt, however, that players can make and see those connections, unless they’ve read gender and feminist theory. I don’t mean to sound like a snob, i*m just not sure players think that way.
The nuggets are few and far between and I’m having a hard time keeping interested. The 30 minute sessions have actually helped in that respect. It’s long enough to get somewhere, but short enough that I can get through the session. Playing every day keeps the game fresh in my mind as well.
The systems in The Witcher 3 are becoming clearer and I can kind of see the purpose of them. I wish CD Project Red had a good UI or UX designer – or both – to bring more clarity to them. As it is, I smear my silver sword with oils because that’s what the game tells me to do, not because I see a marked difference between having an oiled sword and not having an oiled sword. I read the bestiary because the game tells me to.
I get annoyed at the world that mixes easy tasks with missions and events way above my current level, and no way for me to tell which is which beforehand. I’ve left many a quest behind, hoping that I can return to it, but not being sure, because in The Witcher you can fail a quest, and that annoys me to no end. But not enough to reload and replay a failed mission, which says something about how little I care about the game.
I’m hoping – I think – for a redeeming moment. A discovery that brings understanding as to why this game is so highly praised and loved. I’ve spent around 25 hours playing the game, but I haven’t found the moment yet, not the joy that would keep me playing.