The Tragedy of The Witcher 2

Spoilers for The Witcher games.


I’ve been playing through The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings very slowly over the past few weeks, and during my time playing through the game I am continually struck by how the series sets you up for a long-term tragedy around the geopolitics of the Northern Kingdoms.

The Witcher 2 gives us a world with some hope for a free state in the north. While the various already-existing kingdoms are not going to give the Upper Aedirn up without a fight (to take it over from Stennis), it really does look like it could all happen. There might be a place for some kind of weird proto-democracy to take hold, or at least for some kind of French Revolution scenario, but then the (necessary) death of Saskia and this constant betrayal of people by other people makes sure that doesn’t happen.

The Witcher 2 really is this story of watching a wave crest and fall back again. The Witcher 3 has this feeling of “personal quest” for Geralt, but it’s also this journey through the political outcomes that the previous two games have presented us with. The idea that there was something better in the world and then is slowly slid back under the pressure of violence, intimidation, and greed is so profoundly sad. More than that, the game doesn’t flag all of this. It isn’t rubbing the ordeal in your face and talking about your personal, Spec Ops failings. Instead it is merely showing a character, his (important) place in the world, and the fallout of humanity being itself. It’s better at that than any other game, for sure, and I’m very much excited for a replay of The Wild Hunt with all of the DLC.

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