The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt was 2015’s award-winning game of the year for a number of reasons. One of the biggest reasons for the game’s success is that it is set in a very mature, brutal and adult-themed world. The world of The Witcher, originally created by author Andrzej Sapkowski, is a fantasy world, but it’s a fantasy steeped in darkness and amorality. Throughout the gameplay experience of The Witcher 3, players as Geralt of Rivia are constantly forced to make choices. However, sometimes, no matter what choice is made, it is only a choice of the lesser of two evils. Sometimes no matter where you turn, the outcome will never be desirable. As such, The Witcher 3 had its fair share of quite shocking and insane moments as the intrepid Geralt tries to navigate through such a grey world in his attempts to make coin, dodge manipulative politicians and corrupt regents, find his adopted daughter Ciri and maybe some romance along the way. Here are some of the most jaw-dropping moments throughout the experience of The Witcher 3.
5. The Death of a Friend
Vesemir is a very popular character in The Witcher franchise. He’s the closest thing Geralt of Rivia has to a father figure. Despite his Witcher nature, Vesemir is an honorable and noble man. He cares and looks out for his friends. However, even he too is mortal. In The Witcher 3, one of the major battle setpieces is the Battle of Kaer Morhen, where Geralt and his allies attempt to repel an attack from Eredin and the Wild Hunt. It’s pretty much a suicide mission to protect Ciri. The heroes do their best to fight back against Eredin’s horde, but eventually Ciri and Vesemir are both cornered by Eredin and his minions. With no trump cards left, Vesemir sacrifices his life in a last-ditch attempt to protect Ciri. Unfortunately, it does not work, but the act does manage to Ciri to involuntarily activate her Elder Blood powers. It’s a huge moment in the game as it is the one moment that showcases the awesome height of Ciri’s powers. This magical release of energy is so powerful that even the Wild Hunt are powerless against it, and they are forced to flee the scene. The mission was a success, but at what cost? The mainstay character of the franchise, Vesemir, has passed on. It was one of the most tragic, depressing and shocking moments of the game. This was something Geralt, and the players, were powerless to stop.
4. No Place Like Home
This entire quest made the game for me. For a game that is so dark and violent, this was a sequence where it was more shocking and insane for its non-stop, utter hilarity. There is nothing wrong with moments of levity, even in games like The Witcher 3. However, what happens here is quite possibly some of the funniest moments ever inserted into an interactive RPG. Geralt of Rivia returns to Kaer Morhen. Certain events later have him enjoy a night of drinking with his fellow School of the Wolf members Eskel and Lambert. Eventually, the quest moves to three Witchers playing a game of I Never, but it only gets better. Lambert steals Vesemir’s hat and starts imitating his mentor, and the Witchers proceed to get more hammered. The dialogue here was outrageous and insane, but my favorite line is probably Geralt’s: “If I’d bent over, I woulda thrown up.” Just the delivery of that line with his drunk-sounding voice was amazing. This whole sequence, from Eskel being found napping next to a goat, the Witchers cross-dressing to use the megascope to contact the sorceresses to bring some women to the party, it was outstanding.
The reason why this sequence is so crazy is because The Witcher is very dark and serious for the most part. The Witchers are generally stoic characters, and you are not so used to seeing them have fun and enjoy themselves. This was a great moment to see them all taking off their armor (literally) and not having to worry about the cares of the outside world. The game gives this respite to players in one big gulp, but it pays off big time. It’s a sequence that keeps paying off even after its over. The next morning, Vesemir is none too pleased about the liberties Lambert took with his prized hat, leading to this amazing exchange, “That hat was a memento, Lambert!” “Relax, old man. It’ll come out in the wash.”
3. The Secret Ingredient for the Larder Is…Halfling!
One side quest for Hearts of Stone expansion has Geralt searching for the halfling apprentice of the herbalist Otto Bamber. Geralt goes looking for the apprentice Folkert, and the trail leads to a seemingly harmless but decaying and dilapidated village occupied by an old couple. Nothing seems amiss until Geralt picks up a scent to a hidden larder for the old folks. It was here that Geralt of Rivia finds that these seemingly innocent and harmless old folks are the scum of the Earth. It is a larder made for people and halflings that the old couple has been butchering and eating like cattle. Even Geralt finds the remains of poor Folkert and as Geralt describes, “ripped open, gutted and drained.” It’s no way for anyone to die. It’s heavily implied that the old couple has been doing this for some time. It’s up to the player if Geralt will dispense his own brand of Witcher justice on these cannibals or go on his merry way. Why? Geralt might be Witcher, but he only does what he’s paid to do. There are some pretty dark and brutal moments in the game, but none come much more brutal than finding a larder with signs of human remains to feed to the scum of the Earth.
2. Put the Baby in the Oven!
At one point in the game, Geralt can go forth on a quest that finds him on the Skellige island of Spikerood involving the island’s leader Jarl Udalryk. Unfortunately for Udalryk, he’s being haunted by a nasty specter called a hym. The hym is preying and torturing on the haunted man, who is struggling to come to grips over the death of his brother. At one point, Geralt gets involved with Cerys an Craite for the quest to make a daring attempt to exorcise Udalryk of this curse by tricking the hym. However, Cerys realizes that in order to best defeat the hym, it has to be tricked. So she decides to go for a Batman Gambit by kidnapping Udalryk’s infant baby, shoving it into Geralt’s hands…and tossing it into an oven! Seriously, the game actually gives you a finite amount of time to choose whether or not to toss an innocent infant into an oven. Luckily, Geralt is an emotionless Witcher, and Cerys’ Batman Gambit can work. If you throw the baby into the oven, he comes out unharmed, and Geralt and Cerys are able to successfully defeat the hym. Still, this is how crazy the game will get, as you are forced to make split-second decisions about tossing a baby into a fiery oven.
1. Death by Spoon
The first major expansion for The Witcher 3 is Hearts of Stone. What makes the expansion so interesting is that it features an antagonist by the name of Gaunter O’Dimm aka The Man of Glass aka Master Mirror. O’Dimm is simply terrifying because despite his rather unassuming and non-threatening look, he’s a character that defies the typical paradigm for any previous villain introduced in the world of The Witcher before. O’Dimm is not a creature of the night that Geralt can defeat with swords, potions and signs. He is omnipotent, and he can literally bend time to his will. It’s never explicitly stated, but O’Dimm is basically this world’s version of Satan or the Devil. Perhaps he’s something even more malevolent and sinister. O’Dimm rarely loses his cool or gets outwardly angry. But there is one specific moment in the game that shows how stupid it would be to upset him.
When Geralt goes to meet O’Dimm in an Oxenfurt tavern, he’s quickly interrupted by a local patron who wants to share some drinks with Geralt. The patron even offers to treat the Witcher. However, O’Dimm is not amused since he was there to talk business with Geralt. With a simple clap of his hands, O’Dimm freezes time save for both he and Geralt. After a quick chat, O’Dimm casually picks up a seemingly innocuous wooden spoon and slides it handle first through the bar patron’s eye. With another clap of his hands, time restarts and the bar patron keels over with a spoon through his skull without even a second to know what happened to him. The Witcher 3 is a world of monsters, djinns, ghosts, spirits, vampires and demons. However, O’Dimm is someone even more terrifying than any of them put together. He is evil incarnate, and if you tick him off…he will shove a spoon through your eye with a smile on his face, without even giving it a second thought. Even when Geralt “defeats” O’Dimm, it’s hardly final. O’Dimm is a character who you never want to cross.