"Come for the story, tolerate the rest."
When I left Geralt of Rivia at the end of CD Red Projekt's first Witcher game, he'd recently dispatched an assassin attempting to dispose of King Foltest of Temeria. Not just any assassin, but one whose features showed the telltale signs of also being a Witcher. All in all, a pretty good moment for the hero of this trilogy of games. Not only did he have Foltest's gratitude for spending the bulk of the game solving problems in and around the Temerian city of Vizima, but he just saved the monarch's life. And what could be better than having one of the most powerful men in the world viewing you as his personal savior?
Turns out, quite a lot. As a Witcher, in theory, Geralt's life is pretty simple. He goes from one place to the next, slays monsters for coin, indulges the fantasies of one woman after the next and has his personal bard, Dandelion, compose epic after epic detailing his every feat. As the guy whom a king trusts with his life…well, he basically exists in a gilded cage. While he has long-time consort Triss, a powerful sorceress, by his side and in his bed, he also is kept on retainer by Foltest. And, as he ruefully admits, when a powerful king calls, he has little choice but to come.
And so, The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings begins with Geralt helping Foltest take custody of children who may have been illegitimately produced by him in order to prevent lesser nobles from using them for political gain. Everything goes quite swimmingly until Foltest reaches his children; at which point the hefty monk watching over them promptly kills the king right in front of Geralt's shocked gaze. Fortunately for the Witcher, his stay at the local dungeon in the grasp of guards eager to display their prowess with fisticuffs on a bound man incapable of fighting back isn't long. Vernon Roche, head of Temeria's secret police might be hot-headed, violent and not above cold-blooded torture, but he's also willing to listen to Geralt's tale and, if not completely believe it, at least indulge it. The prologue ends with Geralt, Triss and Roche's team heading to the remote town of Flotsam for clues pertaining to the true assassin.
And this guy is immediately portrayed as a formidable opponent, especially if you purchased the Enhanced Edition of this game, which opens with a kick-ass bit of cinema showing him storming another king's party ship to effortlessly kill everyone on board, including the unfortunate monarch. If you're still not convinced after watching that or helplessly observing him dispatch Foltest, just wait until you confront him late in the game's first chapter. He'll freely use many of the same Witcher signs (aka: spells) that you have access to, making him a bear to fight up close or from a distance. The dude is a major roadblock keeping you away from much of the game and you'll have to get pretty damn good at controlling Geralt to have a chance of driving him off and getting the plot moving again.
Community review by overdrive (August 29, 2019)
Rob Hamilton is the official drunken master of review writing for Honestgamers.
If you enjoyed this The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings review, you're encouraged to discuss it with the author and with other members of the site's community. If you don't already have an HonestGamers account, you can sign up for one in a snap. Thank you for reading!