It has been a long day for Geralt the witcher. The hunter of evil solved the case of arson at the forge, got the appreciative dwarven smith to craft a suit of magic armour for him, beat the innkeeper in a card game of Gwent, sent a wandering phantom to its eternal rest, and topped off his duties by staging an epic fight with the huge griffin that had been terrorising the inhabitants of White Orchard.
Welcome to the epic adventure of The Witcher 3.
You play Geralt of Riva, one of the remaining monster-hunting mercenaries who use swords and sorcery to rid human lands of evil denizens.
He also has a way with women, which explains why this game is rated M18 and not something your young kids should be watching or playing.
Expect plenty of challenging battles. You will often have to brew potions and apply special oils to your swords to defeat tough creatures. You can throw bombs to blind enemies, slow them down, or even quick-freeze them before making short work of them with your sword
You may also cast a protective shield, stun enemies with a spell of force, mess with their minds to incapacitate them or simply chuck a blast of fire at them. Even better, throw a poison-cloud bomb at your enemies before your hands unleash flames to wreak maximum damage.
To create potions and bombs, and get smiths to craft better equipment for you, you first need to find the ingredients and the blueprints.
Not surprisingly, I found myself scaling high towers, diving into hidden caverns at the bottom of the sea and charging into monster nests, in a ceaseless quest for riches and superior equipment to win ever tougher battles ahead.
While there is a main campaign to follow, I found myself wandering off the beaten track in this vast fantasy world, in search of greater adventure. As a witcher, I am blessed with keen smell and sight, and can use my special senses to look for clues to solve mysteries.
Rushing through the game would be a huge disservice. I read every book I picked up, and took time to analyse flowers and plants to create the potions I needed, sometimes taking many minutes to admire the picturesque scenery before me when I managed to make my way to a high tower or other point of espial. And then there were also quite a few beautiful women to bed.
But my favourite activity is still playing a hand of Gwent with the many strategy card masters strewn across the lands. Beating them often meant winning a special card to add to my deck, which often opened up new strategies to adopt against tougher opponents.
The graphics are simply stunning, especially as I have been playing the game on an ultra-wide 34-inch curved monitor in 3,440 x 1,440 resolution. It works on the console too, but if you have enough juice in your PC, nothing quite beats playing it in the highest graphical settings.
I think I have already spent more than 30 hours on The Witcher 3, yet my hero has reached only level 7 and I have probably completed only about 10 per cent of the game.
This is a game I will be playing for many more weeks and months to come. There is no doubt in my mind that this is the best game I have played this year, and that it already deserves a permanent seat in gaming's Hall of Fame.
This article was first published on June 3, 2015.
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