Wither The Witcher 2

My hard drive crashed before I finished Witcher 2 the first time.  I was pretty far along, very near the end, but after losing my save files, I set it aside and didn't return for quite a long time.

I finally did though and boy am I glad I did.  I'd forgotten how very, very good the game is.

It was shorter than I recall, which makes me think I must have missed some side missions this time.  I wound up on a different 'side'.  I didn't mean to, but mostly just went with it, even knowing I was often in the wrong or on the 'wrong' side at times.  I just took it as circumstances, since this time, my Geralt never strayed far from his goal of finding Yennifer and the Wild Hunt; everything else going on was just in his way.

While I recognize that most of the 'choices' don't really change the final outcome of the game (ala Mass Effect), I found them all deeply compelling choices and often made them knowing (KNOWING!) that they weren't the 'best' from the perspective of the best outcome.  In that regard I found them far more meaningful choices than Mass Effect, which seemed much more clearly on the good/bad side of things.

Mass Effect was clearly Paragon Blue or Renegade Red.  The Witcher was Morally Grey or Muddy Brown.  That made the choices seem far more real and far more personal.  It wasn't about being good or bad.  It was about doing what was best in a bad situation. There's even a line at one point where he says "I'm tired of choosing between the lesser of two evils."  When I heard that, I felt, yes (YES!), that's the game and that's why it stands out so brightly compared to most games out there that offer some semblance of a branching 'choice' tree.  

In most games, choice is laid out in stark contrast: kill or spare, free or imprison, take a bribe or refuse a reward.  In The Witcher, it's about not only leaving someone to a horrible fate, it's a question of which horrible fate you leave them to.

In my case, I found that I often made the choice that on the surface would run counter to what I presumed is the 'best' outcome.  I killed people when I knew it would hurt the 'world' down the line and didn't kill others, knowing it would lead to more deaths later on.  I felt for the oppressed peoples and races, but unless I could help or punish an 'individual' directly, I simply turned a blind eye to the greater conflict (even though it 'hurt' to do so).

I'm filled with regret at the end for those that were lost or suffered (many of which I considered friends), but, my choices felt like the only reasonable choices that could be made, at least while remaining 'in character'.

My Geralt cared very little about Kings (in fact, he disliked them all generally), cared nothing for lines on maps, cared only slightly for those oppressed by others (whether of other races or social ranks) and really only cared for his friends and to a lesser degree people who kept their words.  Otherwise, he was mostly indifferent, unless someone hurt his friends or attacked him, in which case he was merciless, and in the end... well... I'm really looking forward to Witcher 3 and I pity the Wild Hunt because they will suffer for the Geralt they've created.