Thronebreaker: The Witcher Tales Review PC
key review info
- Game: Thronebreaker: The Witcher Tales
- Platform: PC
- Gamepad support: Yes
- Reviewed on:
- Show system requirements
Let's admit that we all live with the secret desire to play a new Witcher game, although we know that's not going to happen, at least not anytime soon. However, the folks over at CD Projekt Red have been kind enough to offer fans of the Witcher universe some sort of closure following the end of Geralt's saga.
Thronebreaker: The Witcher Takes is a brand new RPG game that touches other aspects of the Witcher universe and locations, which did not appear in the Witcher games. Some iconic characters from the beloved franchise appear in the game, but Thronebreaker's story focuses on grand-scale events rather than the adventures of a single character.
It's true that Thronebreaker tells the story of Meve, queen of two Northern Realms, Lyria and Rivia, but what CDPR really wants us to learn is what the war means for every faction, race and social class involved.
Thronebreaker is a RPG that mixes narrative-driven exploration and card game combat mechanics. If you've played Gwent, you'll feel right at home in Thronebreaker, although it wouldn't make it justice to call it a card game because it's so much more.
You play as Meve, a just ruler of Lyria and Rivia, who loses control of the two Northern Realms following a coup orchestrated by Nilfgaardian agents. Determined to gain control of her country, Meve embarks on an epic journey that will test her military and political skills.
While storytelling is the backbone of Thronebreaker, the part that offers shockingly intense moments, combat provides the fun aspect. Meve's army consists of Gwent cards that can be mixed to form a powerful army. Aside from usual troops, your deck include heroes, artifacts and spells cards.
Although you start with a limited number of cards, several hours in and you'll amass a fairly decent force that can break just about any enemy. Besides standard and event battles, Thronebreaker is sprinkled with lots of puzzles with special requirements.
Standard battles consist of three rounds, but if you win the first two it's “game over” for the enemy. Event battles (or short battles) forces you to win in just one round, and most of the time puzzles have the same requirement only that you'll use the cards provided by the AI.
Short battles and puzzles are the bread and butter of the game, but also the most rewarding and interesting aspects involving combat. Just like Geralt, Meve will fight brutal, and sometimes weird monsters, in her race for resources, vital for sustaining a sizeable army and upgrading its mobile field of operations.
Meve's military headquarter comprises of several buildings that can be upgraded spending two of the three types of resources available in the game: gold and wood. A third resource – manpower is only used for crafting cards and it's by far the least useful, unless you like to experiment and wish to craft all cards that you find during your adventures.
Thronebreaker: The Witcher Tales is split in chapters, each with their own objectives, which Meve must achieve in order to advance the story. Naturally, you're not required to complete all the puzzles or short battles shown on the map, but that will most certainly deprive you of lots of interesting lore and resources. And one piece of advice, use the Scouts to highlight resources, event battles and puzzles on the map as often as possible.
It's true that you'll be spending most of the time trying to complete a puzzle or simply battling monsters, but the story is what makes Thronebreaker: The Witcher Tales unique. Meve will be faced with hard choices on her warpath and while the outcome is obvious, the road to victory is what counts.
Thronebreaker is not about right and wrong, but about choosing the lesser evil. The problem is you'll never know the consequences of your choices until later on when it's too late to do anything. Many of these mini-stories that can help paint the bigger picture, while other introduce (or remove) some of the characters that actively support your war campaign.
Thronebreaker forces players to choose between two evils because there's rarely anything good happening when waging wars. Also, the game subtly touches on various types of conflicts from ethnic disputes to clashes between kingdoms or races. It's all out war in the Witcher universe and everyone is involved, but each group is driven by its own motivations and that makes Thronebreaker a game of politics and strategy at the same time.
- Appealing story
- Deep characterization
- State-of-the-art presentation
- Top-notch voice acting
- Solid card game mechanics
- Fun, varied puzzles
- Long campaign
- Meaningful choices with real consequences
- Some buildings aren't worth upgrading
- Resources become useless in the last chapter
Although it's a narrative-driven game, Thronebreaker is a great tutorial for CDPR's Gwent card game, even though some of the gameplay mechanics don't apply in the latter. Not to mention that you can use some of the cards that you find in Thronebreaker to improve your Gwent decks. It's a pretty nice gameplay feature that's trying to introduce Gwent players to a deeper Witcher experience.
An exquisite combination of deep storytelling and refined card game combat mechanics, Thronebreaker delivers an exceptional RPG experience that not many developers can achieve these days. It's a pity that Geralt's saga has ended after just three games, but Thronebreaker is definitely going to quench your thirst for anything The Witcher related, at least for a while.