A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this game.
Players are forced to do more than simply fight. Relationships are forged via lengthy dialogue sequences, and consequences good and bad are associated with the decisions the player makes through the game. That said, it’s still a dark game that sensationalizes violence, sexuality, profanity, substance abuse, and gambling.
Positive Role Models
Our hero is a monster hunter framed for the murder of his king. He clearly leans toward righteousness and helping others, and he often solves problems through dialogue rather than with his sword. However, it’s largely up to the player to shape his character via in-game choices that let them select whether to help or condemn innocents, mete out justice, or turn a blind eye to offenders and engage in gambling and romantic trysts.
Ease of Play
Strangely, the game is very difficult to start, even on the “easy” difficulty setting, but gradually becomes a bit easier as the player’s character becomes more powerful. Menus are difficult to understand and navigate with a gamepad. Playing with a keyboard improves menu interactions, but imposes limitations on subtle movement by replacing an analog joystick with WASD keys.
Violence & Scariness
Players engage in combat using a variety of bladed weapons (swords, axes, shovels) and magical spells. Blood gushes from enemy wounds, splatters the environment, and can sometimes be seen glistening on the protagonist’s back. Limbs are occasionally severed and heads decapitated. Narrative sequences show extreme acts of violence, including torture and a throat being slit.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Several scenes show women topless, in acts of passion, and being kissed and caressed. Sex is implied by participants’ gyrating, grinding movements, and moans. No genitals are shown. Characters engage in frank sexual discussions, and side characters are frequently overheard letting loose insults involving sexual acts with family relations.
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Profanity is an unavoidable facet of the game’s voice and text dialogue, which includes frequent instances of just about every English curse word imaginable, including “c--k,” “c--t,” “s--t,” “f--k,” and several creative derivations.
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Many characters can be seen smoking cigarettes and drinking ale and wine, with some appearing to be drunk. One scene depicts a powdery substance being snorted.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings is a dark fantasy role-playing game clearly intended for adult consumption. It contains frequent scenes of bloody carnage, frank sexuality, extreme profanity, substance abuse, and virtual gambling. While the politically-charged story tends to push players in the directions of virtuous behavior that includes helping others, opportunity exists for players to ally themselves with clearly villainous characters and play the roles of judge, jury, and executioner in some scenes. These largely open-ended subplots allow players to make their hero as honorable or as conniving as they choose.
Is It Any Good?
The Witcher 2 stands out for its gorgeous graphics and superlative storytelling. The world you explore is enormous, stunningly rendered (assuming you have a PC powerful enough to handle it), and filled with secrets that players must seek out. Among these secrets are countless side quests that introduce you to memorable personalities and shocking events that help shape Geralt’s personality. Playing the game feels like seeing an adult-oriented fantasy novel spring to life and then stepping into it.
Unfortunately, it’s not exactly accessible. Combat can be exceptionally challenging, especially at first, and menu design and inventory management is clunky at best, confusing at worst. These are issues that diehard fans of dark, Western-style RPGs will gladly endure for the grander experience, but will almost certainly turn off genre rookies. Regardless, they ought not to take away from the game’s significant achievements in world design and narrative.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.