This is the first one these gaming write-ups I've done in ages, at least since the Gone Home one.
For those who don't know, and have come to this page quite by chance, The Witcher is a game based on a series of books and short stories by Polish author Andrzej Sapkowski and the game itself was made by Polish company CD Projekt RED, the folks who are also behind Good Old Games. It's fantasy. Very brutal, politically and socially charged fantasy and pulls no punches nor does it try to disguise its dirtiness by hiding it under exposition or fluff. Negative. It's there in your face. Sex, racism, evil, death...it's all on show.
The game uses an isometric viewpoint by default (engine by Bioware), though you can switch to an over-the-shoulder look if you so desire. I personally found the latter to be awkward, and it gets in the way of the three different fighting styles on offer. With the default view, you can select from strong, fast and group styles using the mouse, which I found much easier. You use strong style against larger opponents, fast against the smaller nimble ones and group against...well, groups. The combat isn't so different from any other isometric CRPG out there - essentially left click to attack, right click to cast magic (or signs as the game calls it). It's very simple and intuitive.
The story moves along in a series of acts and there's a number of pre-requisite things Geralt needs to do before he can progress into the next act. The quest notes in your journal make it clear what's needed to be done and much of the time, there is a considerable amount of back-tracking required, i.e in one act, you need to go back and forth to the swamp from Vizima to get certain things done, and yes, it does get old. Aggressive undead in the sewers and the swamp cemetery that you've out-levelled also get old. There's a few fan-made patches out there that get rid of these annoying monsters of no worth. But the compulsion of the story easily trumps these aggravations, and so you move on.
Much has been made of the sexual content in the game. How much it bothers you is directly proportional to your ability to be offended. And many were offended. Each time Geralt "conquers" a woman, you get a memento card for your efforts. It's all very droll. Of course, being male, I don't immediately see the offensive side of things here, but I'll admit it's not for everyone. In addition, there's a bit of nudity going on, namely the Naiad, the Lady in the Lake and the Dryad (see screenshots link below).
All up, it's a great product. It's involving and the choices you make in this game do carry over to the sequel if you export the save game into it.
Screenshots -- some of which are certainly not safe for work.