The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings was first released in 2011 by Polish developer CD Projekt Red.
It is the predecessor to the smash hit The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, and also follows the exploits of Geralt of Rivia – a Witcher, or monster-hunter – on a series of open-world adventures.
I hadn’t played The Witcher 2, before playing The Witcher 3, so was disadvantaged in some ways, although some might argue that playing The Witcher 2 might put you off The Witcher 3… Personally, I was shocked by how clunky The Witcher 2 is (to 3), when it comes to combat, the menu system, and various other things. Just playing through the tutorial brought on serious doubts. The graphics were so garish, compared to The Witcher 3. The facial models were so lifeless… It almost put me off. But I’m glad I ploughed on regardless and got to the meat of the game itself, because the opening is very exciting.
The first act shows Geralt in prison, being interrogated. His predicament is explained in a series of flashbacks, which you play out in real time. The way these first sequences play is very interesting and clever game design, as it slowly dawns on you what is going on. Without wanting to give too much away, you’re then launched into a whodunnit type hunt for multiple assassins of multiple kings, of which you yourself are implicated.
The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings is a superb game, but looks and feels a bit outdated, compared to The Witcher 3. The tutorial, in particular, looks and plays horribly, and further dents confidence. Ignore that, though, and play the first act. Then you’ll know that this game is good. Oh, and consider playing with combat set to ‘easy’, because it’s one of the weaker aspects of the game. The story and characters are all top class in this, though, and are worth experiencing if you liked The Witcher 3. Letho of Gulet is especially interesting. As is Foltest. Both of whom appear as Gwent cards in The Witcher 3, but not in the game itself (well Letho of Gulet can, if you import a Witcher 2 saved game).
Anyway, don’t judge a book by its cover (or a game by its tutorial), like I almost did. And ignore the dead-faced characters; the under-developed combat; the archaic levelling system; the clunky menus; the primitive 3D models and animation; the dull conversation menus; and the slightly blurry wolf medallion in the top left hand corner… There is a great game in there!
One thing is for sure: the Witcher series definitely got better and better as it went along. I REALLY want a fourth! 🙂
Steam: The Witcher 2 on Steam
GOG.com: The Witcher 2 on GOG.com