Wednesday, October 22, 2008

More Witcher: The Embarrassment Continues

Is the personality flaw which allows me to enjoy The Witcher somewhat abated by the fact that I openly admit it? Would it be more sinister to enjoy my shame secretly? These questions I leave for you, constant reader.

So in the game, I'm working with this young, athletically-built redhead named Shani to recover some stolen property and (cliche alert) recover my lost memories. We run into an old friend (she tells me he's an old friend) in town and she suggests we get together at her place for some drinks. And Shani insists I bring someone. "Invite anyone" she says.

My first instinct is (predictably) to push the bounds of good taste, so I immediately head over to the Eager Thighs brothel and look up Carmen, the madame. Unsurprisingly, the conversation option to invite her to the party is available, so I take her up on it. She wants money for her time, but I gladly invest 1/10 of my accrued fortune toward the potential hilarity. That life-saving armor will have to wait: my hero has his priorities.

A quick aside about Carmen: We've done some business - I killed a gang of thugs who were trying to shake her down - and in gratitude she offered me the unlimited services of her girls. Except for her. In a world where just about every woman is available to be had (including the princess of the realm), an untouchable whore is deliciously ironic. And the fact that she'd demand money to go to a party with me, while she won't accept money for sex, is intriguing. So I pay her, and mayhem ensues.

Clearly, I'm far from the first guy who had this instinct, as there are cutscenes and scripted dialog aplenty specific to Carmen. Shani is curious about my choice of invite, and makes several catty comments about Carmen's profession. Carmen replies that the two of us are "purely business associates" with a deliberate sarcasm designed to rile Shani. The old friend is flirting non-stop with Carmen, even singing her a song, but everyone is ignoring him. Soon, Carmen suggests a game of Truth or Dare, which Shani accepts, not wanting to seem the prude.

This whole scene is an elaborately constructed male fantasy. It's a microcosm of the game as a whole - beyond wantonly ignoring political correctness, The Witcher instead unself-consciously celebrates chauvinism. Someone took a lot time to think this scene through, and devise clever lines as the two women subtly (and not-so-subtly) dig at each other. I can't remember being so amused at a game - and at the same time amused at myself for enjoying something so obviously contrived to target the loser gamer.

And I haven't even tried to invite other people - some of the women I've already slept with perhaps (the ones that are still speaking to me, of course), or one of the suspects I'm investigating (another valuable Witcher strategy: get people drunk and they talk more.) Chances are good that I didn't immediately stumble upon the only option, but that the town is full of potential gems. In a game where nothing is new - the combat system, spells, and mythology are all standard - there was a ton of effort put into the interpersonal relationships, and it's absolutely hilarious.

So back to the party - the Truth or Dare game gets quickly out of hand, and Shani tosses everyone out, except for me. In spite of my boorish behavior at the party, a few comforting words and a red rose earn me another card. (Imagine your hero, armed with two swords, an axe, a dagger, and an arsenal of flowers. I never travel anywhere without fresh daisies, tulips, and roses. Because you just never know when they'll come in handy.) The cutscene of the old lady living below, looking up at the ceiling in disgust as plaster flakes off, was so boldly cliche that I laughed out loud - again.

It's refreshing, or revolting, or both that in a genre constantly striving to do something "new", The Witcher has simply taken a very familiar RPG formula and added some well-designed philandering. And somehow it works. There's a lesson about myself in there which I'm trying desperately to avoid learning. In the meantime, I have a princess to woo. You think she likes flowers?


At 6:47 PM, Blogger millhousethecat said...

This is classic. Do you want me to weigh in with what I think it says about you?

Regardless, please keep playing and posting about it. These are my favorite posts so far.

At 7:41 PM, Blogger Sweet Tea said...

Please, anything but that. I fear criticism!


Post a Comment

<< Home