Thronebreaker: The Witcher Tales / Gwent (PC/PS4/XBO)

  • I've finished now three maps, the journey's taken over 30 hrs so far. A massive game, and in a good sense in my eyes. The story is really good, it's written with great twists here and there and with very solid dialogue. Both in the main story and in minor side events. And the characters are fleshed-out people, you simply like and appreciate them more and more as you go along. Especially Meve just works, I love and respect her attitude and actions (for sure, some / a lot of those are my own choices, but any way). And the voice actor does wonderful work as her, as do pretty much everyone. The story is a joy to live through with this group.

  • Sounds like I'm gonna have to add this one to the backlog!

  • I finished this game not so long ago and had great time despite never playing collectable card games before. I was pleasantly surprised that you can freely walk around the map. I immensely enjoyed puzzle battles (where you have predetermined deck with special (often unique) cards and have to do something specific (also usually unique)). Also I thought it’s nice that story is heavily integrated into the battles with special cards and victory conditions. And of course it has a true Witcher story, where you can’t just pick “Paragon” options every time to get the best outcome.

    Also it’s so relaxing for me to have a game that I can play with just a mouse.

  • It took me the whole January, but finally I finished Meve's journey after whopping 58 hours. That's was waaaaay more than I would have ever imagined, but luckily it was all practically quality stuff. I emptied every map of everything etc. Only for the final big match I had to turn down the difficulty and still I struggled, so I eventually googled a sound strategy and won the match. It had to do with a lot of the cards and units I'd ignored completely and was now amazed at how they actually could be played. So a bit of a bummer at the last stop, but hey, it's about the journey itself.

    Meve is up there with Arthur Morgan for my Character of the Year 2018. What a woman! A warrior queen with a heart of gold, put against often choices with only bad outcomes. And still she moved onwards, never giving up. Loved her voice talent Lucy Black, she truly brought her to life. And hats off to Timothy Watson as the Storyteller. An incredible amount of text to read, and the man delivered it all with just the perfect style and balance in his voice. It was honestly just a joy to listen to him and see it all unfold before my eyes.

    One specific choice cost me the platinum trophy, it seems, as I didn't get one of the weapons for Meve. That smarts a bit, I tell you. On a journey this long. Well, maybe at some point I'll start a new game on the easy difficulty and just speedrun through the story fights to get all the blades.

  • @sentinel-beach How interesting. My Meve wasn't a queen with a heart of gold, she was a ruler who puts the need to win the war above "good" and "justice". And it never felt out of character. Must be really incredible writing.

  • Finally picked it up last week and played for a few hours, I'm enjoying it a lot! Never played Witcher 3 so I'm not familiar at all with the world or with Gwent, but so far I'm managing. Actually might finally push me over the edge and make me play Witcher.

    The world map on which you walk is gorgeous, although your character's movement feels a bit sluggish. I like the puzzle battles, even the early ones can be tricky, but it's always reassuring to know that the solution is within those 3-4 cards, so you'll get it eventually. The real battles are still a bit confusing to me sometimes, took me a while to realize that the same cards are used across the 3 rounds so if you somehow use a lot of them in the first round you could be left with nothing for the other 2.

    And I encountered a couple interesting moral dilemmas already, the writing is engaging and really sells the world. Looking forward to picking away at this one in the coming weeks!

  • I'm nearing the end of the second map (this is a long game!!), and I've noticed a slightly annoying trend regarding the moral decisions you're asked to make: it feels like no matter what I do, it inevitably ends up biting me in the ass down the line.

    Spare the life of a cruel enemy I defeated? My soldiers are pissed off at me, and he'll end up poisoning their food or leading me into an ambush.
    Execute that enemy instead? His family/friends/people will be out for revenge and I'll be locked out of a future alliance.

    I don't know if I've just been unlucky with my choices or if they're all meant to be bad, but it's getting to the point where I find it hard to care since no matter what I pick, I'll be screwed one way or another.

    I appreciate the effort of having long-term consequences to your choices, but I've often found that games that attempt it often lean towards the negative. I had a similar issue in Assassin's Creed Odyssey where a choice I made led to a character refusing to side with me 30 hours later, and I felt robbed.

    There's a fine balance to find here and I'm not sure what games could do to alleviate that. I wouldn't want all consequences to be immediate or signposted, as I understand the value in generating surprises, but when the player has absolutely no way to anticipate the outcome, it just feels cheap.

    On some RPGs I worked on, we sometimes tried to provide additional, optional information you could acquire that would hint at a character's behavior, whether they should be trusted or not, so thorough players could avoid betrayals and the like. But it feels only possible to pull off in huge RPGs, not so much in smaller scale games.

    In Thronebreaker, it's almost becoming predictable, and every time I see a "The villagers are about to execute this seemingly innocent person" dilemma-type, I just think "Let me guess, if I let them kill him it'll turn out he really was innocent, and if I free him he'll go on to slaughter the entire village..."

    Has anyone else felt this?

  • @axel I think I saw the same thing, but it didn't bother me. In fact, I liked it, because it made the act of making choice different. Usually games have a good option and a bad option. Even when I don't know which is which right away, I still try to go for particular outcome each time. But when I must pick between bad and another bad, it's way more interesting, because I must pause to think which bad option is worse for me personally. In your villager example I had to compare "one certain death" and "many possible deaths", which is a more challenging moral equation than "should he live or die?". Also, this approach creates a much more fleshed out playable character (in my opinion), who is not simply good or evil. Maybe it's just me, but I love stuff like this.

  • @ffff0 Having to choose between two evils is perfectly fine, and I absolutely love these kinds of dilemmas. My (minor) issue is more with the unforeseeable long-term consequences of my decisions, which always come back to punish me down the line.

    Choosing between "one certain death" and "many possible deaths" is interesting in itself, and the game could very well leave it at that, you'd have to carry on knowing what you did may or may not have been the best choice.

    But instead, the game makes sure to let you know each time that the worst case scenario indeed happened, that the "one certain death" which was already hard to swallow led to even more negative consequences, or that you taking the risk of "many possible deaths" happening led to... many deaths happening.

    So it's a bit of a downer, but I understand it's the grim tone and outlook on war that the game wants to present, and I'm mostly fine with it. Just wish I could be satisfied with my choices once in a while.

  • Finished it last night, clocked in at 41 hours, did pretty much everything. It's really, really good.

    The world and characters grew on me throughout, and my gripes about some of the moral choices feeling unfair slowly disappeared as I learned to accept them, and also saw positive consequences finally happen too. When I finally dive into The Witcher 3, I will be on the lookout for these people, and I'll probably be disappointed if they aren't in it.

    The final battle is ridiculously difficult though, to the point where it feels like only one specific strategy can work, the one shared online by everyone, which I had to resort to after failing so many times. Felt dirty and unsatisfying, but it doesn't take anything away from the overall experience.

    I feel like if you enjoy the world of the Witcher and are not totally allergic to card games, this is a must-play. It has excellent writing and voice-acting too, a very polished UI, gorgeous 2D art... Truly a gem, kudos to the team!