You will find countless threads and reviews on the masterpiece that The Witcher and its DLCs are, but I felt like sharing my 2 cents on the first expansion of the game, Hearts Of Stone.
After completing Blood & Wine and being left mesmerized by the beauty and detail of Toussaint, I went into the next and final DLC of my first playthrough without many expectations. I thought of it as a minor DLC, with less available playhours and no new maps, maybe with a good plotline and quests but nothing more.
So I start playing. Cool, a witcher contract by a weird lad, just like the other 200 one I have already completed. But then things goes south: you end up on a ship in death row because you actually killed a cursed prince. Great, let me guess, Geralt finds his way out, slains everybody and yada yada yada. Well actually, no. Who shows up? One of the first, irrelevant characters that you met on the path just a few hundreds of hours before: Gaunter O'Dimm. He saves your ass with the condition of repaying your debt, and to assure himself that you'll respect the pact, he leaves a mark on your face. Alright, feels pretty satanish, but I guess he's just a petty mage. Come on, just open the cell and let me chop everybody to pieces. But what does he do instead? He randomly breaks a spoon and he fucking disappears. Weird I guess, but you know, mages and their portals, pretty standard. I wonder if he's actually going to help me or if I just got a free tattoo.
And then, for the first time, happens something which in my restricted and limited knowledge of The Witcher lore makes me start doubting about his real identity. Because he throws a huge fucking storm at the ship. How? Mages aren't that powerful, even the best ones. Did he manage to capture a Djinn? I remember a legend about a sorcerer who moved a mountain by doing so. Or maybe he is a Djinn?
After this point, Hearts Of Stones got me hooked to the screen. I instantly forget about all my other sidequests and contracts: I want to know who this "Gaunter O'Dimm" actually is. Fueled by curiosity I go forward through the quests, with the plotline managing to marvelously develop and outline the characters involved. All. Expect. One. O'Dimm himself. He's just weird. You don't get many encounters with him, but you can feel it in your bones: there's something about him which you aren't grasping. What does he want from Olgierd? How did he make him immortal? Did he actually make him immortal? He's always alone, appearing and disappearing out of thin air. He always feels out of place. The quests go on, you fulfill Olgierd's last wish and you meet O'Dimm at the pub. What comes next is possibly the most powerful cutscene of the game, maybe only second to Geralt finding Ciri. It's powerful because it was at this point that my curiosity for O'Dimm turned into fear. As soon as you walk in, a drunk interrupts him by inviting you for a drink. And O'Dimm is right there. He doesn't cast a spell. He doesn't tell him to fuck off. He claps his hands. And the time fucking stops. It's in this moment that you start to grasp the real extent of his power. He's no Eredin with its dark armor and sword, nor a blazingly fast vampire with claws. He looks like a regular men. Talks like a regular man. But his personality and behavior feels twisted in a horrible way. Kind of like Stephen King describes terror, you aren't scared because of what he can do, you are scared because you don't know what he can do, and the feel which runs through your spine screams that his nature, whatever the fuck he is, is actually horribly evil. Leaving the poor man who stopped you with a spoon in his eye is just another confirmation to your suspects. At this point, my thirst to discover more turned into just wanting to get rid of this fucked up character and of the mark which during every second of your playthrough reminds you of the pact you unknowingly signed. After tricking Olgierd with another beautifully crafted catch in the contract he signed, he takes his soul, leaving nothing but the charred skull of what once was the eternal Olgierd Von Everac. What follows perfectly resumes the character and the feeling that he gave me for the past 20 hours of gameplay. He just leaves. With little no to indication about his next intentions he removes the mark from Geralt's temple, before whistling his creepy-as-fuck theme as he walks away tossing Olgierd's skull in the air. And for what is possibly the first time in the game, you see a glimpse of fear in Geralt's cold look. Just like in yours.
CDPR made what I know possibly consider the greatest DLC plotline ever. I was left with so many questions, and the anwsers given by the professor's quest only managed to fuel more speculation about his true nature. So thanks CDPR, the experience and the emotions I felt throughout the game were nothing short of amazing. I can't wait to start my second playthrough.
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