Witcher 3: The Jack Reacher of Video Games

I’m not a big gamer, but there are certain types of games that I like. I enjoy games like the Ultima series. A few years ago, shortly after we got an Xbox, I played Skyrim, and thought it was pretty fantastic. Generally thought, time spent playing video games is not time reading or writing, so I keep it to a minimum.

A few weeks ago, I read Blood, Sweat, and Pixels: The Triumphant, Turbulent Stories Behind How Video Games Are Made by Jason Schreier. The book discussed the development of 10 games. Among them was Witcher 3 made by a Polish video game company. The discussion of the development intrigued me, as did the game itself, which is based on a novel by a Polish writer.

Blood, Sweat, and Pixels by Jason Schreier

A few weeks passed and then, this weekend, I decided to get the game. I began playing it and I really enjoy so far. I’ve spent far too much time playing it (Friday night, I stayed up until nearly 1 am Saturday morning playing) but I think that says a lot about the story. In the days since, I’ve been thinking about what it is I like so much about the main character, Geralt. He seemed somehow familiar. He has a somber, quiet way, more ready to fight than talk. I liked him a lot.

I made the connection Saturday night. I’ve been reading a fascinating books called Reacher Said Nothing by Andy Martin. I’ve never come across a book quite like this one. Martin followed Lee Child around while he wrote the 20th Jack Reacher book, Make Me. The book is part biography, part craft, and a big part behind-the-scenes of how a bestselling author goes from idea to publication. Think of it as the “making of” portion on the DVD for a movie. I’ve read all 23 Jack Reacher books and so I’ve found this book particularly fascinating. And it was while reading this book that I realized that the reason I liked Geralt so much is that he comes across as a kind of video game fantasy world version of Jack Reacher.

Reacher Said Nothing by Andy Martin

Indeed, when I play the game, I find myself playing as if I was Reacher. What would Reacher do in this particular situation or that? How would Reacher answer this question? Would he help? Fight? Reacher’s rules even help out: hit first, hit hard. Always move forward. It’s made for an interesting gaming experience for me.

I’m not that far into the game. My method for playing is to start slowly, doing all of the little side quests in order to better learn how to play and to build experience. But I am impressed by the game play, by the depth of the story line, the characters, and by the feel of that particular imagined world.

Published by Jamie Todd Rubin

Jamie Todd Rubin writes fiction and nonfiction for a variety of publications including Analog, Clarkesworld, The Daily Beast, 99U, Daily Science Fiction, Lightspeed, InterGalactic Medicine Show, and several anthologies. He was featured in Lifehacker’s How I Work series. He has been blogging since 2005. By day, he manages software projects and occasionally writes code. He lives in Falls Church, Virginia with his wife and three children. Find him on Twitter at @jamietr.

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1 Comment

  1. I like the Witcher concept, but I’ve always found the games too restrictive. You have to play the character they give you. If you really want to play you character 100% Reacher-like, you should try one of the Bioware RPGs, like Dragon Age or Mass Effect.

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