It's been an amazing year for Geralt of Rivia - The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt's grizzled lead. The final instalment in CD Projekt Red's gritty trilogy deserves to be right up near the top of any Game of the Year list, and not just because of its overall quality; this is a title that's practically bursting with passion from a truly committed developer.
Set in a land that's rife with danger and dark dealings, this sprawling role-playing release is utterly engrossing from start to finish. Boasting an impressively detailed open world that acts as more of a vehicle for the many twisting and turning storylines that flow through it, Wild Hunt ends up feeling more focussed than its competitors in the sandbox space. Put simply, Geralt's journey is almost all killer with very little filler - and that's something of a rarity when it comes to this crowded genre.
"Geralt's journey is almost all killer with very little filler - and that's something of a rarity when it comes to this crowded genre"
Superb writing, voice acting, and plot pacing help to keep each and every quest engaging. The game sets the bar for what we should expect from similar releases, with very few stereotypical tasks or dreaded fetch quests hogging all of your time. Of course, stuffing a game with so much meaningful content is no easy task, and for that reason, the sheer amount of effort that the Polish studio has poured into this project should be lauded.
Unashamedly mature in its approach, Geralt's blood-soaked escapades certainly aren't for the faint of heart, but their often brutal nature only serves to make them that much more memorable. This is a game where many optional objectives end up becoming just as enjoyable as tasks that are found within the main story, and that's once again testament to how much care has been applied during the title's development.
Throw in some satisfyingly weighty combat, an addictive levelling system, and a whole lot of loot, and you've got the recipe for one heck of a fantasy adventure. Speaking of fantasy, it's perhaps a little disingenuous to lump The Witcher in with other titles involving dragons, trolls, and magic spells. With a world that's taken directly from a series of novels and short stories from writer Andrzej Sapkowski, Wild Hunt in particular makes fantastic use of existing knowledge, adapting it into something that can be understood and appreciated by both hardcore fans of the property and complete newcomers.
The same can also be said of how Wild Hunt makes itself accessible to those who may not have played the first two titles in the series. Being the first game in the franchise to release on a PlayStation platform, it came with expectations that were built high due to past praise from PC and Xbox players, and what we got is ultimately the complete Witcher package - an RPG that stands head and shoulders above its already solid predecessor.
Something that grizzly old Geralt is fond of doing, let's cut right to the chase: The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is one of the best RPGs we've ever played.
Did you have fun killing monsters in 2015? Does The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt deserve all of the praise that we've given it over the last seven months or so? Neck some deadly potions in the comments section below.