Developer: CD Projekt RED, Can Explode
Producer: CD Projekt RED
Release Date: November 27, 2014
Platforms: PC, Mac, Tablet
Reviewed On: PC
Cost: Tablet version: $5.99 PC/Mac $9.99
With the announcement that Witcher 3: Wild Hunt has been delayed until May 19th, my apartment has become a very dark place. As avid fans of the series, both my fiancé and I have been excitedly looking forward to the third installment of the series. In all honesty the choice to play The Witcher Adventure Game was an effort to quench our thirst for the series that wasn’t looping each of the trailers ad nauseam. As an added bonus the game features local co-op; a feature that is woefully absent from many PC games. The presence of this feature makes it easier for our house of gamers to enjoy games with one another rather than next to one another.
The Witcher Adventure Game is the latest product making its way into The Witcher franchise. Based directly on the physical board game, The Witcher Adventure game pits a group of two to four players in the gritty world of The Witcher. Each player takes on the role of either Geralt ‘The White Wolf’ of Rivia, the enchanting Triss Merigold, the charismatic bard Dandelion, or the stoic dwarf Yarpen Zigrin. Players strive for victory by gathering victory points, or VP by completing quests, defeating monsters, or supporting other players. The game ends when a player has completed a pre-game set number of quests, the player with the most VP at that point claims victory.
The overall structure of the game is rock-solid. Enough complexity is present so that each instance of the game is vastly different from any round before. Each character has distinct advantages and disadvantages. Geralt is exceptional when it comes to combating monsters and collecting combat-related intelligence. However when it comes to diplomacy or magic he is woefully helpless. Dandelion is hopeless against monsters but excels at gathering diplomacy evidence as well as leeching resources from other players throughout the game. This complexity among characters combined with the ever changing game board and chaotic event cards make the outcomes of games unpredictable. I can’t even imagine attempting to play the physical board game. Thankfully the electronic version of the game takes care which dice to role, remembering when event cards come into effect, placing monsters and foul fate tokens in various regions on the board. This simplification makes it easy for players to enjoy the game without having to spend each turn re-reading the rulebook and puzzling out which dice to role or where to put a token. Interestingly enough however, the game has a simple learning curve. Several video tutorials are present, and after a single practice game both my fiancé and I had the concepts down.
Sporting a local hot-seat and online lobby and matchmaking multiplayer modes, the game is designed to be played with other human beings. My fiancé and I enjoyed several rounds of the game, and while each game was filled with twists, turns, laughs, and screams each game always ended in enjoyment (and with me in 2nd place). The online functionality of the game works, however the popularity of the game brings the effectiveness of its online ability into question. Since it’s such a niche game I would imagine the bulk of multiplayer play will take place in the hot seat or private lobbies. Additionally, online players tend to quit once they get far enough behind, which makes for such a buzzkill every other player that had spent over an hour playing the game. Out of three online matchmaking games I played, only one ended without a player abandoning. This of course is not perchance a fault of the game, and more of poor sportsmanship of other players.
The AI in this game is downright awful. The computer characters never seem to be working to turn in quests, as well as make hopelessly questionable choices throughout the game. My first game with just a computer opponent had them lose to me 50-3. I attempted another game with several computer opponents and while they fared better only losing 61-20-15 this time, they still failed to turn in a single quest. Sadly a difficulty option is not present for the AI in the current build. Bottom line is that this game is only enjoyable with human opponents. Since the online popularity of the game is questionable I can only recommend this game if you have friends to play it with, otherwise the experience isn’t enjoyable in the slightest.
The Witcher Adventure Game is a solid game. Enjoyable to anyone looking for some casual board game entertainment. However the crippling stupidity of the AI make the single player functionality useless, and friends willing to play is a must. Fans of the series will love seeing their favorite characters from the games and novels in a different setting as well as enjoying adventures from the point of view of someone other than our favorite white haired witcher.