Thronebreaker: The Witcher Tales is a role-playing strategy video game developed by CD Projekt RED. It is a single-player spin-off of Gwent: The Witcher Card Game. The game combines gameplay elements of point-and-click adventure games, strategy card games, and visual novels. If you’re anywhere near as big of a fan of Gwent as I am, you’ll want to check out Thronebreaker.
You play as Meve, war-veteran Queen of Lyria and Rivia. Tensions between the power-hungry Nilfgaardian Empire and proud Northern Realms grow. Meve is forced to once again enter the warpath, and set out on a dark journey of destruction and revenge.
Thronebreaker is played from a top-down perspective. As Queen Meve, you roam the map freely and complete quests. At the same time you’ll be gathering resources such as gold, wood, and recruits which are used to maintain and expand an army.
Animated cutscenes similar to those found in visual novels portray interactions between characters. In these cutscenes, it is possible to make dialogue choices which may affect the course of the story. Combat mechanics closely resemble the gameplay of Gwent: The Witcher Card Game.
On the surface, Thronebreaker appears to be a niche video game that will have limited appeal. If you were a fan of The Witcher 3 and had hopes of a similar experience then look elsewhere. Truly, this is a game for hardcore fans of Gwent and those that have a deep interest in the lore of The Witcher universe. Thankfully, I’m a massive fan of both so I was in heaven.
CD Projekt RED have gone above and beyond with Thronebreaker. Firstly, they have almost entirely revamped Gwent from what it was in The Witcher 3. Whether that is for better or worse will depend on the person. However, I found many of the changes had improved it as a whole. Thronebreaker offers a fantastic tutorial for those that may be playing this addictive card game for the first time.
Secondly, it delivers a highly engrossing tale. One of the strongest aspects of the game is the impeccable writing and voice acting. It plays out like a “choose your own adventure” type of story. Along the way you’ll have a lot of difficult choices to make. You’ll find yourself having to choose one evil over another. Genuinely, there are some very tough decisions to make. Each feel important and have real impact on the developing tale.
The Witcher universe is packed with compelling characters and Thronebreaker delivers a handful of them. Meve in particular is very interesting, really well rounded. There is a lot of dialogue in the game so be prepared for a lot of listening and reading. I must admit, as good as it all is the lengthy blocks of dialogue and text can become tiresome in the latter stages.
Traversing the world is simple enough. Although, it can be a little cumbersome as Meve can easily get stuck on small objects. It’s hard to complain to be honest, it was really fun to be back in the world of the Witcher.
If I must pick a negative aspect then I’d direct it at the Gwent side of the game. In my opinion, it’s far too easy even on medium difficulty. Many of the battles are scripted in nature which helps keep things from getting stale. As soon as you develop a solid strategy with certain cards, you’ll rarely struggle.
Finally, Thronebreaker had a lot of bugs when I first played it. I experienced a number of crashes and infuriating slow-down and stuttering. Thankfully, every issue has now been patched but it was very disappointing.
Overall, Thronebreaker is absolutely fantastic. You can tell that it has been crafted by people who really gave their all to deliver something of high quality. As a fan of Gwent and The Witcher franchise, I couldn’t have hoped for much more.
Thronebreaker: The Witcher Tales