Thronebreaker: The Witcher Tales has made its debut on Nintendo Switch following the successful launch of The Witcher 3. Is this a side offering worthy or does it hold less water than a Drowner? Read on.
Thronebreaker: The Witcher Tales is an odd little beast, on paper it doesn’t sound like much, essentially its Gwent with a story mode. It doesn’t take long after starting up the game you remember this is CDProjekt RED and something they know is captivating stories!.
The first thing that’ll jump out at anyone who’s coming into this off of the back of the Witcher 3 is that you play as Queen Meve, queen of Lyria and Rivia. Yes this a Witchers Tale so the Butcher of Blavikin himself does make someone of an appearance but this is a more world building experience.
Meve returns to her countries which are being run by her son, she returns to things being worse for wear and the uneasy shadow of Nilfgaard hangs over her home.
The story here in Thronebreaker could have easily been just an excuse to go from games of Gwent but you can see there is such a love for the source material here. The characters are well written, the story gripping and the choices harrowing and tough, each one changes the narrative to craft your path through this tale. There is something CD Projekt RED have a knack for and it’s the narrative choices, it’s not always black and white, good and evil, this game presents you with these choices too and much like the series leaves it with you to decide which is the lesser evil.
Visually Thronebreaker: The Witcher Tales is stunning, rather than the graphical powerhouse of Witcher 3 it leans more into a fantasy art style which oozes the source material from every single pour. The game looks like you are playing a work of art, created to honour the series locales, it truly is something to look at as you make your way through the 5 different areas, that of which have yet to have been explored in a Witcher game!.
On the audio side of things, the same high level of polish the main series is known for is back. Voice acting is superb and the music fits the title perfectly, despite being a “spin off” title there hasn’t been any punches held in visuals or audio department.
The gameplay of Thronebreaker: The Witcher Tales is made up of 3 parts, exploration around the gorgeously painted map, the choose your own adventure style dialogue and GWENT.
The exploration is done on a beautiful world map, it almost looks like a living painting. You’re given some freedom to explore, take on side quests, chat to NPCs and collect resources which allow you to improve your camp, craft more cards and further your battle against the Nilfgaardian empire!.
During the exploration you’ll come to some rather tasty choices, while they might not immediately bore fruit, rest assured every choice counts and even the smaller choices have a direct effect on your army morale. The army morale can give you a boost or hamper you in your next battle & can often be a decider of how the match will go.
The bulk of Thronebreaker is made up of GWENT, for fans of The Witcher 3 you’ll know this as the outstanding side activity from that game, here it takes centre stage. For those not acquainted with the cards the very very basic gist is that each card has a value, you need to have the highest value at the end of a round, do that and you win.
Now my description of GWENT really doesn’t give it justice of how nuanced and down right fun GWENT can be, if you’re not too sure you could always try the standalone GWENT game available on PC, X BOX ONE, PS4, IOS & Android (coming soon). I know how that last statement felt like an advert but if you haven’t played Witcher 3 and want to know how good GWENT is, that’s the best way without dropping the coin on this.
IF by chance you don’t like GWENT but still fancy trying the game out, there is a difficulty option allowing you to skip any and all matches of GWENT to continue the story, this is ideal for Witcher buffs who just don’t like the card game, something for everyone here.
It’s fantastic to have not one but two Witcher titles on this portable beast, a quick game of cards and a little story progress on the way to work will set anyone up well. The fun of GWENT has translated over well and Meve is a brilliant main character. Fans of the ol’ White Wolf himself may be a little disheartened to hear he isn’t quite that prominent in this title but this isn’t his story, this is Queen Meve and her tale, what a tale it is!
Thronebreaker: The Witcher Tales was a fantastic surprise both in release and in quality, as much as I love GWENT I didn’t think the game could pull of such a gripping narrative and keep GWENT interesting, it does and it does it well. Between standard battles, special puzzle matches, making tough decisions and crafting new cards I’ve seen my hours whittle back and can see me losing many more! Hail the Thronebreaker!.