I've actually posted this review in the Gwent subreddit, but I feel like the game is very underappreciated, so I've decided to post it here as well. After all, I think that if you like the Witcher universe, Thronebreaker is definitely worth considering. Hope to convince some of you that may be undecided!
I wasn't sure if I wanted to play Thronebreaker. Yeah, I've heard the story is pretty good, but basically playing Gwent against bots didn't seem that exciting for me. Finally, after seeing some positive posts on the subreddit recently, I decided to try it out. And well, the game exceeded my expectations. For TLDR, read the last paragraph.
So, let's start with some strong points:
story – you know that CDPR are capable of delivering fantastic storytelling. This time it's no different. Even though we don't play as Geralt, Queen Meve is actually a very interesting character as well and I had no idea I would grow to like her so much. Even though the first chapter may start a bit slow, the story picks up rapidly and especially towards the end it becomes a masterpiece. You don't need to read the books or play the Witcher games to enjoy the story, but if did (especially if you read the books), there are some hidden flavors that are also pretty great.
decisions – the Witcher universe is famous for its' grey morality, almost nothing is ever black or white and the decisions you face often don't have a good answer – you have to decide between two evils. In this game you're playing as a monarch, so you hold much more responsibility than a witcher and your decisions often have meaningful consequences which you may not know at the time. When I look back to my playthrough, I almost feel like I regret the majority of my choices, but that's the beauty of decision-based story games.
companions – there are several people who can join you in your adventures and they are all really fleshed out characters with interesting backgrounds and stories. You may get attached to some, you may dislike some, but one is certain – they are not just random NPCs that are just there. And they evolve as the story progresses – you may need to resolve conflicts between them, some may leave due to your choices, some may not even join you in the first place because of what you did in the past.
gameplay – I write this at the end of the advantages section, because I'm actually not sure what to think about it. This is definitely a game you play for the story, not for the gameplay. Nevertheless, most battles are not just playing ordinary Gwent against enemies – there are a lot of interesting puzzles and some more important battles have special mechanics which are also very cool and fitting. Also, the cards in Thronebreaker are much more explosive and you can get off some really fun combos and huge point swings. Before I bought Thronebreaker, I thought the gameplay would be pretty boring, but it's actually much better than expected and I had fun in a lot of battles. As to the exploration part, the maps are pretty big and there's a lot to do as there are many interesting side quests.
Now let's get to some weak points of Thronebreaker:
gameplay – let's start with the worse part of the gameplay. While there are a lot of interesting puzzles and battle mechanics, standard battles against random ghouls or another small nilfgaardian unit got old pretty fast for me. Especially in the later chapters, collecting all the loot on the map and fighting constant battles against unnamed enemies felt a bit like a chore to me. I actually feel like the game would be better if it was a bit shorter, I found myself playing through these battles as fast as I can just to be done with it and get to the next story moment. Of course, a lot of them you can just skip and run in a straight line to the main objective, but when you want to find every chest for Gwent rewards, unfortunately you have to grind through those battles.
crashes, freezes – there were a lot of them and I play on PC so it's allegedly better than on consoles. The game froze a few times during a battle or during the loading screen and I had to restart it. Sometimes I would also have to launch it a few times because it would get stuck in the opening cinematics.
Overall, Thronebreaker is a great game, especially if you're a fan of the Witcher universe. The story and the decisions you have to make are amazing, while the characters are very interesting and fleshed out. The gameplay is ok, better than I expected, but sometimes gets a bit tedious. And I hope there will be still some patches to improve the stability. If you're on the fence about buying it, I definitely recommend it.
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