When Thronebreaker: The Witcher Tales was initially announced, I was elated to hear that CDPR (CD Projekt Red) was adding on to the already gripping Witcher mythos. Adding to the excitement was the moment I also found out that the main gameplay would be done by playing GWENT! It is like CDPR took the standalone Witcher games and GWENT: The Witcher Card Game and smashed them together into this beautiful amalgamation.
In Thronbreaker, you follow the story of Meve, the war-veteran Queen of Lyria and Rivia as tensions between the Northern Realms and the Nilgaardian Empire grow stronger. CD Projekt Red’s excellent writing comes through in one of the best written RPG’s of this year. Thronebreaker will test your mettle by having you make decisions that don’t really balance the idea of good and evil, but rather put your morale to the test with decisions that will leave you feeling, well, feelings, for hours afterwards. Consider this a semi spoiler warning, but this takes place right in the beginning of the game. You come across a small town where some non-humans were being harassed by a group of humans, you then have to choose between the two. A short gwent game later and the battle finishes. The post game aftermath explains that you decided to hang the lot, leaving a terrible impression on the townsfolk and hung bodies strung up on the world map.
Thronebreaker is a beautifully crafted game, from the visual representation to the sound. Thronebreaker is packed with great voice acting as well as mood setting music throughout the maps that you play through. Whenever you aren’t in a game of gwent, the world is cel-shaded, which brings the characters and environments to life. The world itself benefits from the graphical style that CDPR chose to go with. The over-world map is where you will spend a lot of your time in Thronebreaker. Here is where you will gather resources needed to craft cards and make certain game changing choices. This is simply done by holding down right click on your mouse until the progress bar fills up. These resources could either be gold, wood, or troops, without these you won’t be able to do certain things in the game. Navigation of the map is similar to an isometric RPG with simple click to move controls, which adds a nice buffer to the story and card gameplay.
The place where you will spend most of your resources will be at the Warcamp. Here, you can craft new cards and upgrade your camp, which will sub sequentially grant you new stats and better skills. This bit of micromanagement allows you to craft the way you want to play, without having to open up booster packs to hopefully get the cards you are looking for. The story mode lets you play through the game with a pre-built deck that you can edit through crafting new cards that you unlock by upgrading your Warcamp. Thronebreaker puts you through much more than just regular Gwent matches. Throughout the game you will be put up against puzzles and challenges that’ll test your knowledge of the game Gwent. There are some seriously challenging puzzles in Thronebreaker and I felt extremely accomplished after figuring out some of them. Good news is that most of these puzzles are optional and can be passed up if you can’t complete them. Some of the puzzles in the beginning have a high learning curve, but it is to be expected since Gwent has been out and playable for awhile now.
Thronebreaker: The Witcher Tales does offer a multiplayer mode, but when you click on it it just prompts you to open up the game, GWENT: The Witcher Card Game. Overall, Thronebreaker: The Witcher Tales offers some of the best storytelling in an RPG title this year, thanks to CD Projekt RED. On top of the brilliant writing, you have the engaging and unique gameplay of Gwent to back it up. I think that little entries into the series that tell these gripping stories is a great way to keep this fantasy alive and well. If you are even remotely a fan of The Witcher and love the card game Gwent, then you need to buy Thronebreaker: The Witcher Tales, as soon as possible!
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Review statement: The game was supplied by the developer for the sake of this review.