Ask any role-playing game fan to describe The Witcher and you’ll see their eyes mist over as they endlessly describe the subtle morality system that has arguably never been bettered by another game in the genre.
Ask them about the combat, however, and they’ll most likely ignore you and describe the vague moral compass of the story again - it just wasn’t that memorable.
So the idea of a brawler based around the game's combat is an odd one, until you realise that The Witcher: Versus has about as much to do with the weighty role-playing series as Wicca has with pointy black hats.Tough decisions
The game sees you squaring off against hundreds, if not thousands, of players in head-to-head battles. You start by selecting from three character classes - Witcher, Sorceress, and Frightener. Their physical appearance and skill sets are different, but they effectively all play out the same way.
Once you've created a character, you challenge others of a similar rank using the Arena menu. Should your opponent accept the fight (either while you’re online or away), the 2D bout is automatically resolved and then experience and cash is doled out.
As you gain levels you unlock new skills, upgrade existing ones, or purchase items that temporarily aid you in battle using either virtual or real currency.Tough fight
Combat isn’t quite what you’d expect from a role-playing game spin-off, taking the form of a of rock-paper-scissors.
Before each battle, you and your opponent pick a sequence of defensive and offensive moves that fall into three categories: Strong, Fast, and Magical. Your characters then take turns executing the sequence you laid out until one dies or time runs out.
Should you pick the same type of move as your opponent, whomever was the attacker misses. So if you pick a fast move for your second attack, and I pick a fast defensive on my second defence, you miss and I’m laughing.Tough luck
Despite this simplicity, The Witcher: Versus looks and plays rather well thanks to some smooth animations, well-paced levelling, and the ability to fire over a challenge, set up your moves, and come back in your own time to see the results.
It is, however, still a glorified game of rock-paper-scissors and despite all the trimmings you’re essentially picking a random selection of icons and hoping for the best.
If there was an easy way of seeing move summaries of your opponents’ last few fights, better stats for what skills they’ve upgraded, or just a way of noting the moves quickly from fights you’ve already fought, then the game wouldn't feel so random.
As it is, The Witcher: Versus ends up sitting in that grey area of games: it's polished and can be great fun at first, but it's too reliant on luck to be more than a passing distraction.