This week on Zero Punctuation, Yahtzee roleplays a pale, lanky misogynist.
What would you get if you took the corpse of J.R.R. Tolkien, ground it into a fine powder, and snorted it off the doughy breasts of a prostitute suffering from Tourette's Syndrome? Well, first you'd get a throatful of dead writer, then the police would probably want to talk to you, and you'd no doubt make an enemy of Mrs. Tolkien. What you probably won't get is The Witcher, because it's a video game and more easily acquired from your local electronics retailer, you idiot.
The Witcher takes place in the same time-locked period of medieval England that all fantasy takes place in, as inevitably as the fucking tides, and follows the adventures of an amnesiac platinum blonde called Gerald. Sorry, Geralt. Gerald is a Witcher, a sort of demon hunter for hire. Not, as you might reasonably assume, a witch hunter, since you run into witches fairly often and don't seem to care. You could make a convincing case for the word "Witcher" meaning "a bloke who has sex with witches a lot", since even in the short time I was playing, female magic users were queueing up to nibble on my +69 Staff of Penetration.
What quickly becomes obvious is that Witcher is very much a PC-exclusive game, which are typically designed to be as complex and unintuitive as possible so that those dirty console-playing peasants don't ruin it for the glorious PC-gaming master race. The first warning sign is that the manual is thick enough to beat goats to death with, and then once you get into the game the interface is just a few steps shy of Microsoft Access in terms of friendliness. There's your inventory screen, your character screen, your alchemy screen, your glossary, your quests, your map, you have to switch between Combat mode and Stand-Around-Picking-Your-Nose-While-Enemies-Carve-You-Like-Turducken mode. And once you're in Combat mode, do you fight in Strong, Fast, or Group style? And if you'll be wanting to mix potions, then I hope you've gone through the necessary 8-week correspondence course. If disliking this sort of shit makes me stupid, then call me Retard McSpackyPants, but I'd rather be stupid and having fun than bored out of my huge genius mind.
My first quest seemed straightforward on the outset: bring 10 monster skulls to Talkative Prick Number 17 of 54, but a stipulation was that I couldn't get the skulls until I had researched the monster in question. Apparently Gerald's amnesia extends so far that he needs to swot up before he can figure out where the motherfucking skull is located, but whatever, we'll run with it. When it came to revealing exactly how to research, however, the game was tight-lipped. God forbid that you could research the damn things by, you know, killing them. Admittedly, I might not be entitled to complain about the game's unintuitive nature because I didn't spend a weekend memorizing the documentation, but even that wouldn't have made the game any less dreary.
The box promises 80 hours of gameplay, and I believe it, because the game draws everything out mercilessly. A large percentage of those 80 hours will be spent making dull conversation, running from one side of the map to the other at the behest of fat NPC jerks, or just wondering what the chuffing hell you're supposed to be doing next. When you do finally get into some combat, it's almost on sufferance. You fight enemies by clicking on them once, and then if you're really advanced, clicking on them again.
As I progressed through the starting village, a set of red flags came up that brought me to a sinister realization. One-click combat? Endless trudging from place to place? Quests involving killing X amount of monster Y for lazy stationary cockhead Z? This is a mumorpuger! A single-player mumorpuger, with no Alliance dipshits teabagging your corpse, but a mumorpuger nonetheless.
Anyway, I have a tendency to completely lose interest in a game's story when I lose sight of the ultimate goal, and by the time I reached the second questing zone, I'd literally forgotten who I was supposed to kill, or why I had ever cared, because the three women I had dirty Middle Ages sex with had mellowed me out somewhat. Some people might call The Witcher misogynistic, for the fact that every single woman in the game shows off a cleavage you could lose your dog in, and will jump on you at the slightest provocation, for a PG-13 sex scene, followed by a paradoxically explicit dirty postcard. Personally, I think it's less The Witcher's obvious hatred of women, and more the same misguided pretension to maturity that also causes the characters to cuss with every alternate word. You might say it's sexist to treat women like a baseball card collecting mini-game, so you can ogle their luscious rounded boobies and melt away between their smooth milky thighs as the sweat runs in rivulets from their writhing, sensuous body, but...sorry, I forgot where I was going with that.
The reason why this is a "first impressions" rather than a full review is that I found the game to be so boring and stodgy that I couldn't play it for more than a couple of hours before deciding I had to do my laundry or wash the gimp or anything that would mean I wouldn't have to put myself through more of it, and as a general rule of mine, a game that feels like work generally isn't looking at a good write-up. The Witcher was not fun for me, but you might have a better time if you're incredibly boring, and if it's been decades since your last sexual encounter. And if that's the case, stop watching my reviews, Dad.
Of course you want me: Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw
Why are dwarves always Scottish? Funny how this has become accepted fact because all the Scottish people I know are tall buggers
Ask me again how long it's been since I've known the touch of a woman
(A cutscene from Painkiller is given new dialogue by Yahtzee)
Painkiller, with apologies
Daniel: "Hello, Piety Corporation. How may I direct your call? Please hold."
(Sammael walks up)
Daniel: "Can I help you?"
Sammael: "Yes, I'm here about the Systems Analyst position. This is my résumé, please look impressed."
Daniel: "You do know that this is a piece of wood with the word "résumé" scribbled on it with crayon? And also that you spelled "résumé" with three s's?"
Sammael: "Yes, I think it says it all. So, when do I start? First thing Monday morning is good for me. Also, I'm going to need next week off because of a minor statutory rape conviction."
Daniel: "Okay, well, first I should explain that I'm not the interviewer, I'm the receptionist... Also, I'd like you to leave now, because you fill me with disgust."
Sammael: "Jesus, what do I have to do to get a job in today's market? Shall I do a little dance? Oooh, oooh, are you satisfied now? Are you satisfied with my little dance, you bureaucratic shit?!"
Daniel: "Well, that wasn't really a dance."
Sammael: "Oh, you wanted a real dance, did you, you officious bugger?! I'm sorry, clearly you wanted me to bring a jazz quartet in here and a line of chorus girls to accompany me through a rendition of 'O, What a Beautiful Morning!' Well, I'm afraid I can't do any better, because I somehow got the apparently mistaken impression that this was a Systems Analyst job, not a bloody audition! Christ, your type makes me want to puke a fat one!"
Daniel: "Look, I'm sorry, but I really don't think we have a place in our company for you."
Sammael: "Okay, well, what if I sucked you off?"
Daniel: "What did you just say to me? I think you should leave now before I..."
Sammael: "Listen well. You know what this is? This is the first prize trophy of the All-County Cock Sucking Championships. The judges said I was like a vacuum cleaner with a pufferfish on the end. Meet me out front in twenty minutes and you will have the most mind-blowing thirty seconds of your life. Twenty minutes. Out front. Pufferfish."
(Sammael walks away)
Daniel: "Okay, now I just have to figure out if that was a man or a woman."