For a mature-rated game, The Witcher III definitely showcases a ton of feels. Most AAA, M-rated games either fail miserably at establishing an emotional connection with the player, or they just don’t try in the first place. That’s fine, and there’s certainly room in gaming for those types of experiences, but The Witcher III is clearly a different animal entirely.
The main plot revolves around Geralt and Yennefer attempting to locate Ciri, who is someone they’ve been looking after for ages. Ciri’s biological father, the Emperor of Nilfgaard, Emhyr var Emreis, tasks Geralt and Yennefer with her. If that doesn’t confuse you, I applaud your ability to follow along.
What ensues is a long trek around the world to find Ciri and bring her to her father, but of course, there’s a few hiccups along the way.
Not Here To Talk About The Plot
What struck me about the story wasn’t the bond between Emhyr and Ciri, but Geralt and Ciri instead. This is hammered home once Geralt first finds Ciri, and his hopes at reuniting with her is dashed. CD Projekt Red did an amazing job demonstrating the connection between the two… It’s easy to feel the link between them. When they’re reunited, it’s like watching family members meet who haven’t been around each other in years.
However, while it’s a sweet moment seeing Geralt and Ciri catch up after such a long time being apart, the most powerful moment I remember was…
You know what? Spoilers… If you haven’t beaten The Witcher III yet, you should.
When I finished The Witcher III recently (the main story at least), the decisions I made over the course of the game led to what is considered the best ending. Ciri lives, and eventually becomes the Empress of Nilfgaard, though it makes for a bittersweet moment when Geralt needs to say his goodbyes. Ciri’s fate isn’t determined directly by the player, but rather as a consequence of the player’s decisions.
There are a number of ways that you can influence what will happen to Ciri; some subtle and others far more overt. What happens to her is a result of how empowered, loved, and supported Geralt makes Ciri feel before the final encounters with the Wild Hunt. To me, it’s a perfect illustration of a great father-daughter relationship.
Nothing made that more obvious to me than the moment when Geralt brings Ciri before her biological father for the first time. It’s an optional activity, but it’s not one you’d want to miss because Ciri takes what happens between Emhyr and Geralt to heart. Geralt took the job to find Ciri because he was already emotionally invested in locating her again. That doesn’t stop Emhyr from trying to reward Geralt out of obligation though; his servant brings Geralt a paltry sum of money as a reward for his deeds. You can either reject or accept the money, though if you do, you might as well plunge that silver sword in your own gut… you monster…
If you choose correctly and refuse payment, Ciri realizes that she means more to Geralt than just a paycheck, and helps cement Geralt’s character as greater than her actual father’s. There’s love there, which is probably why it’s even more heartbreaking if Ciri chooses to leave for Vizima in the end, because while Ciri is leaving those that care for her to begin a life as royalty, she’s also fulfilling a larger purpose in her life.
More Of This, Please
Don’t get me wrong. I’m fine with games that are comical or action-oriented, and don’t try to include heartfelt moments. Sometimes it’s fun just to sit down and play, but there is a dedicated place in my heart for games that make me feel. It’s interesting that a game like The Witcher III has captivated me so much, considering that I previously had no interest in the series before. What’s more, is that despite Jennifer or I having any interest in the franchise, we’re now invested in its lore and overall narrative. Jennifer went back and played The Witcher II, and we’ve purchased the book series as well. None of that would’ve happened if The Witcher games were devoid of emotion; there’s something funny about that, considering all the talk you hear about witchers not having emotions following the Trials.
The Witcher III possesses what so many other games, including those of the same genre, are missing. I don’t know what it is exactly that it does so right, but I’d venture a guess that it has much to do with the characters you meet, and the connections they have with one another.
Are there any moments in gaming that struck out at your heart? Do you enjoy games that make you feel?
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