Thronebreaker: The Witcher Tales - Recensione

Author: Lorenzo Fantoni
Date: 2020-07-30 23:33:56
My first contact with Thronebreaker: The Witcher Tales was a bit like climbing a small mountain without any particular experience. The view was pleasant, but at the slightest misstep I was punished by slamming my face against my mistakes. I was therefore extremely curious to understand what awaited me in the final version, if the history and mechanics of the Gwent were able to mix well as it seemed and if the draconian difficulty was a choice or only material for previews.

We can answer the second doubt immediately with a sigh of relief: if you do not chew the dynamics of Gwent with particular ease and above all want to enjoy another story in the world of Geralt, Thronebreaker will not get in the way too much. There are three levels of difficulty and if you already have experts we advise you to aim for the most difficult immediately, otherwise you risk watering down your experience with a lot of trivial skirmishes. If you do happen to get caught up in a clash that you think is impossible, you can always solve it automatically, saving horrible wounds to your troops and limiting them to your ego.

The first curiosity instead requires a more articulated answer: Thronebreaker is undoubtedly an interesting spin-off, but requires a little of your trust and your time to be appreciated in the right way. Above all, it requires passing the first hour and a half of the game, which basically acts as a long tutorial. The story is based on the deeds of Princess Meve, proud queen of Lyria and Rivia, who, like many other rulers of her period, has to face the incredible military capacity of the Nilfgaard army. A long, complex and fluctuating story that unfortunately every now and then loses its compass and offers long digressions that we would have gladly done without, almost as if we wanted to lengthen the broth of a TV series on Netflix that must at all costs reach twelve episodes. It's a shame, because when everything goes smoothly, epic sensations are felt like the smell of Nekker in a marsh.

From a strictly narrative point of view, Thronebreaker represents something different than The Witcher: Meve is not a character completely in the player's hands, he offers less freedom than Geralt. He is a character with his own moral code, positioned in a context of a different class than the monster hunter, however we will be able to decide whether to impersonate an icy ruler willing to hang anyone who contravenes his laws or a queen of the people willing to forgive, at least every now and then . However, do not get too used to court jangles, because soon you will find yourself in the mud and horror of a story that when it wants to speak directly to our hearts and puts us in front of those swampy areas of consciousness that the Polish developer likes so much . Meve's journey is made much more interesting by the court of characters who over time find themselves at his side, often angular personalities, who clash with each other in a series of dialogues capable of sparking sparks of humor and cynicism, giving advice often diametrically opposed to the queen, underlining the difficulty of making a choice that is actually "right".

Continuing the tradition of The Witcher, some decisions will have some weight as the story continues, unlocking new travel companions (and related cards) or transforming choices that seemed magnanimous into bad decisions. However, it is fair to point out that in most cases they will simply make us choose between a fight or peace. And since each victory will bring us money with which to forge new cards and expand the camp it is quite clear which is the most sensible way. Also because playing a game of Gwent is undoubtedly more interesting than exploring by clicking around the map.

If the 25 hours of history have their ups and downs, where Thronebreaker excels is undoubtedly in the technical sector, both from a visual and sound point of view. The game environments are made with painstaking care that overflows with details and the same goes for the illustrations of the cards and the dialogue sequences. The various maps of the game come out of the screen with their bright colors, positioning themselves halfway between the richness of an ancient tapestry and the stylization of a game board. Since Meve's adventures can ultimately be described as a kind of personal board game, the choice is undoubtedly appropriate. And if the eye is satisfied, the ear is forced to say enough in the fourth encore because the excellent Italian dubbing, the music and the sound effects are able to help the static images that describe the most important events and help our fantasy.

But what happens when the talk ends and the swords have to be drawn? A lot of interesting things. CD Projekt developers know that card games do their best with a human opponent and that a computer, no matter how good, cannot offer the same clash. He doesn't bluff, he doesn't think outside the box and on long distance he succumbs, even in a game based on the cards you have in his hand. Moreover, the Gwent is different from its competitors, it is based much less on the attack and more on the accumulation, on the movement of the cards between the two rows, it is less "aggressive" and often the computer simply cannot counter a good accumulation of cards. For this reason it is essential to immediately seek the maximum confrontation if you are expert players, otherwise there is the risk of getting bored (and in any case nothing can replace a human opponent).

To overcome the risk of boring the player too much, most of the fights are puzzles or otherwise subject to particular modifiers that make everything much more peppery. In many cases we will have to resolve the clash in one turn, trying to find the correct mechanism with which to put the right armies on the table at the right time, instead of simply throwing everything we have against the opponent.

Those who are already accustomed to the original game will find that in Thronebreaker things are a bit different: there are only two lines, you need to know how to use the skill of the commander, there are only gold and common cards and above all some of them are equipped with a one-off ability that can be used at any time of our turn and that can be "reloaded" by deploying particular units. For example, the card of an armored tank can deal a lot of damage when the units deployed after it on the same line, but it can only do it once. To be able to use it several times, we must therefore use a card that recharges that ability and try to move others between the two lines to increase the damage. This is just a small example of the joints that must be known (and that are widely explained) in Gwent and, believe us, it is not even one of the most complex.

Perhaps the most skilled players at the beginning will bite the brake, because even if the deck is widely modifiable the resources to do it are limited and it will be essential to choose carefully, but the good balance of the game offers a rewarding experience both for those looking for customization total, and to those who just add some cards every now and then. But be careful, dear Gwent novices, at the end of your adventure with Meve it is very likely that you will want to taste some of the real competition (and this is probably the real purpose of Thronebreaker).

I played Thronebreaker in PC version on a Legion Y720 with Nvidia Ge Force GTX 1070 and Intel i7 for about twenty hours, thanks to a code received from CD Projekt Red. I have completed the main quest and some of the side quests and puzzles.