A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Thronebreaker: The Witcher Tales is a downloadable role-playing/strategy card game hybrid for the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and Windows PCs. The game's set in the world of the popular fantasy series The Witcher. It contains some swearing with words like "shite," and alcohol's visually and verbally referenced. Combat takes the form of a turn-based card game, and violence is implied by cards being destroyed. During story mode, players will encounter dead and bloody bodies.
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What's it about?
THRONEBREAKER: THE WITCHER TALES is half role-playing game, half turn-based card game. Players assume the mantle of a warrior queen who must defend her kingdom from an invasive foreign power, and gameplay revolves among several different modes. Adventure mode lets players explore various maps, fighting monsters, recruiting soldiers, and collecting resources. Resources come in handy during Camp mode, where players manage their armies, craft new cards, and build custom card decks. The twist-filled story unwinds as players solve puzzles and defeat AI opponents in turn-based card game combat. In addition to the practical business of running a kingdom, players are also faced with morally complicated decisions that affect people's livelihoods, belief systems, and freedom.
Is it any good?
This exceptional game is the result of an unlikely blend of adventure game storytelling, resource management, role-playing, and collectible card game mechanics. As entertaining as the various modes of Thronebreaker: The Witcher Tales are, though, the game's true center lies in Queen Meve. This armor-clad monarch possesses the strength and charisma of Geralt of Rivia (the series' usual star) while also being a smart, fearless defender of her people. Though you can play Meve as stern and mercenary, she's a noble character faced with the burden of running a kingdom, fighting her enemies, and dealing with a weak, wayward teenage son. As a result, the decisions you're asked to make are never easy.
What's great about having to make the tough decisions, though, is seeing how they affect the world around you. Do you hang a highwayman or let him go? Find in favor of one neighbor or the other? These choices will come back later on to help or to haunt you. While exploration and dialogue are readily accessible, the turn-based card game combat is harder to absorb. It isn't easy to remember what each card does or how it interacts with others in the midst of battle. On top of that, story twists alter which cards are available to you for certain missions or puzzles, which can make success challenging. Thankfully, if your skills just aren't up to the task, the easy difficulty setting lets you skip (without penalty) harder battles and get on with the story. In addition to its awesome heroine, emotionally wrenching storyline, and brain-taxing combat, Thronebreaker: The Witcher Tales succeeds because of its great visuals and sound. The game has more than 30 hours of gorgeous character and background art, plus a sweeping musical score and great voice acting. Despite all this, card game purists could be put off by deck usage and building limitations. But these are small things compared to the fun you'll have playing such a stellar Witcher game, especially now that it's on all platforms. Even better, players can take it with them on the go if they have the Switch version, ensuring that you can get your fantasy card fights anywhere.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how women are represented in games. How often do games let women be heroes? Why is it notable that Thronebreaker: The Witcher Tales chose to focus on female heroes for this game?
Which women (in real life or fiction) do your kids look up to? What makes them great role models?
Is it better for a leader to be strong and imposing or kind and benevolent?
- Platforms: Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Windows, Xbox One
- Price: $19.99
- Pricing structure: Paid
- Available online? Available online
- Developer: CD PROJEKT RED
- Release date: January 28, 2020
- Genre: Strategy
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Adventures, Great Girl Role Models
- ESRB rating: T for Blood, Crude Humor, Language, Violence
- Last updated: February 4, 2020
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.