Thronebreaker: The Witcher Tales Xbox One X

Thronebreaker: The Witcher Tales is easily one of the best fantasy games available now and those who dismiss this title for its card-based system will miss out on one of the best narratives this generation

By Grayshadow, Posted 13 Dec 2018

Thronebreaker: The Witcher Tales does something remarkable, it captures the essence of what made The Witcher games using cards as its core gameplay system. CD Projekt RED has used the optional card game Gwent from The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt and turned it into a fully realized single-player adventure with a dense and complex story full of remarkable moments. Thronebreaker: The Witcher Tales takes the Gwent mini-game and molds it into its own adventure that easily matches the quality of the Witcher trilogy.

Thronebreaker: The Witcher Tales,NoobFeed,CD Projekt RED,

CD Projekt RED took the same care and effort found in the core Witcher trilogy with Thronebreaker: The Witcher Tales. Set during the Second Nifgaard War players take control of Queen Meve of Lyria and Rivia as she attempts to secure her victory in this war. Meve will be constantly tested with moral choices that alter the story and force the player into different situations based on those decisions. Some options are black and white, with an indicator showing which of the choices are righteous or tyrannical, but most are based on your preferences. Each yielding different results and advantages.

Thronebreaker: The Witcher Tales is not an easy game and requires the player to prepare for each encounter using their deck. Gwent is a complex game and while the tutorial attempts to teach you the basics it's up to you to invest the time to properly construct a deck that compliments each card. The goal of each encounter, with the exception of unique battles, is to win 2 out of 3 rounds by having a higher score than the opponent after the end of each round. You accomplish this by adding units to your side while crippling and destroying units on the opponent's side using your cards various special techniques. This sounds simple but as you progress the rules become increasingly complex as new cards offer different special abilities that if used correctly can stage a comeback or leave you destroyed.

Most of the missions have specific requirements such as preventing the escape of certain cards or using specialized decks, this means you cannot stack your deck with powerful cards alone. Certain missions require the use of specific cards that must be used in a particular pattern and other times handicaps are placed to prevent specific actions. This constant barrage of handicaps does prevent experimentation since the game rarely allows you to play a more traditional version of Gwent but it also keeps you on your toes.

Thronebreaker: The Witcher Tales,NoobFeed,CD Projekt RED,

The journey is amplified by the outstanding cast of characters and voice-actors that lent their voices. Whether it's speaking to Meve's loyal companion Reynard or the clever bandit leader Gascon each one helps adds life to this already densely populated world. Since every character has their own identity it's hard to keep them all happy, forcing you to make tough decisions of who to keep and who to let go.

Losing a companion doesn't only alter the story, it creates new challenges within the game. These characters act as hero cards, the most powerful cards in the game, and can access special solution to certain story events. For example, having Sir Eyck, who specializes in killing monsters, can save the lives of your men when scavenging resources in an area saturated with deadly monsters. You can craft your own cards and build up your camp by using resources collected throughout the environment but the most robust cards are only available through diplomacy. If players do find themselves struggling with the game CD Projekt RED has included an easier option that allows the player to skip battles to experience the game's story alone.

The quests and characters are excellently written, providing emotionally gratifying moments and crushing misfortune. In one mission Meve is tasked with quelling a peasant uprising that resulted in the death of several non-human characters. During this, the player must decide whether to hang those responsible or whip them. Do one or the other will cause one side to feel targeted and vexed at your actions organically. Yes, those responsible should be punished for killing a bunch of innocent people but you're leaving those who weren't responsible without their husbands and fathers while not punishing them will cause the non-humans to feel belittled like their lives don't matter to humans. This consequential narrative prevents the story from ever getting stale as your characters always carry weight in both what cards you earn and lose but how the story will shift. 

Thronebreaker: The Witcher Tales,NoobFeed,CD Projekt RED,

The world itself is beautifully crafted with incredible hand-painted visuals and animations. Premium cards, character models, and the environment itself shares a beautiful array of colors and fluid animation that is pure eye candy. It makes the 6 maps feel more like a richly decorated open world than a 2D isometric RPG. Everything brought together thanks to an easy-to-navigate interface that allows you to see all the optional objectives, main missions, and other important information critical to the player.

Thronebreaker: The Witcher Tales captures the same incredible quality storytelling found in CD Projekt RED's Witcher trilogy. The complex and branching story is full of eventful choices and is complemented with the game's exceptional characters, writing, and voice-acting. It does require a steep learning curve as Gwent is an intricate game to fully understand but those seeking a challenge will find one here. Thronebreaker: The Witcher Tales is easily one of the best fantasy games available now and those who dismiss this title for its card-based system will miss out on one of the best narratives this generation.

Adam Siddiqui, NoobFeed
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General Information

Platform(s): PC
Publisher(s): CD Projekt RED
Developer(s): CD Projekt RED
Genres: RPG, Collectible Card Game
Themes: Fantasy
Release Date: 2018-10-23

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