It is pretty safe to say that at this point in time, The Witcher franchise is more popular than it has ever been. With the success of the Netflix original series, we have seen the games and books fly off the shelves, physical and digital. One particular game is CD Projekt Red’s Thronebreaker: The Witcher Tales. Originally released for PC, the Playstation 4, and Xbox One back in 2018. The card game-based RPG (role-playing game) recently received a port over to the Nintendo Switch, bringing it back into the spotlight. But does it live up to all the hype surrounding the franchise? Read more to find out! 

Be wary there are spoilers ahead.

Queen Meve choosing what to do with villagers in Thronebreaker: The Witcher Tales.

Queen Meve choosing what to do with villagers in Thronebreaker: The Witcher Tales. Image provided by CD Projekt Red.

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A Story Fit for a Queen

If you thought Thronebreaker: The Witcher Tales would spin another tale for Geralt, you thought wrong. The story actually follows Queen Meve of Lyria and Rivia as she faces off against a Nilfgaardian invasion and protects the north during the Second Nilfgaard-Nordling War. Only a small portion of this battle appears in the books, leaving a large portion of the story up to the team to create. And I have to say, they did a pretty fantastic job doing so. It feels very much at home within the franchise.

The story is told through beautiful artwork and top-notch voice acting and narration that really help to bring it to life. Queen Meve is a well written leader and the choices you make throughout the game can define how she grows. Something to keep in mind as you play the game is that you can not reload a save. This means if you miss a side quest or make a choice you weren’t happy with you can’t go back and change it. With a story so vast, it has multiple endings and paths to follow, things are bound to be missed.

Puzzle or Card Game?

Thronebreaker: The Witcher Tales took the popular Gwent mini-game from The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt and used it to create the battles and puzzles. If you are a fan of the mini-game and have an idea of how to play it, the battles will be fine. Unfortunately, I did not have enough experience with the mini-game and struggled in the beginning before turning to outside tutorials to guide me even after restarting and replaying the opening.

What complicates the game more is the use of puzzles throughout. It plays out like a battle would, except they all have a different set of rules you need to keep in mind. It all came down to math and only one possible solution. These weren’t fun; they felt like homework. I never felt that I was having fun trying to solve them, only frustrated and wanting to get back to the interesting part of the game, the story.

World map exploration takes players through towns to collect items.

The player moves Queen Meve around the world map collecting pick ups and finding puzzles and battles. Image provided by CD Projekt Red.

Be Prepared to Take the Long Road

The advertising for Thronebreaker: The Witcher Tales doesn’t lie when it tells you that it features a 30-hour campaign. This isn’t a bad thing, except when it comes to just how slow gameplay really is. When I would finally take a break and put the controller down, I felt like I had been playing far longer than I actually had. Even the most basic function of moving around and searching for materials felt exhausting to play through.

After I hit the 20-hour mark, I knew I couldn’t go any further. I went into each gaming session excited to learn what was happening next only to be hit with the stress and frustration of the gameplay side. The story alone was not enough to keep me invested until the very end. If there was another mechanic or two to help break up the monotony, the gameplay could have been more interesting. 

Overall Opinions

Summary for Thronebreaker: The Witcher Tales

In the end, Thronebreaker: The Witcher Tales just didn’t deliver for me. The story alone was not enough to carry me through the frustrating gameplay. That being said, I still recommend this game to anyone who finds enjoyment in solving Gwent themed math puzzles and doesn’t mind the slow-paced game style. If you are just looking for another battle-based card game, I would recommend looking elsewhere. 

Thronebreaker: The Witcher Tales is available now on PC through Steam, PS4, Xbox One and the Nintendo Switch.

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Julia Roth
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