The Witcher: Versus
Reviewed by Didi Cardoso
Review Date Platform Genre Rating Production
2008-05-03 PC MMO RP (Rating Pending) CD Projekt RED / one2tribe

Before the D'jinni Adventure Editor and the new playable adventure for The Witcher came out, Witcher fans gathered to participate in the beta for a more casual browser game, The Witcher Versus.

Versus (formerly Duel Mail) is basically a 2D fighting game, with rock-paper-scissor mechanics. It's pretty simple, but this is also mostly a game of chance, because no matter how much time you invest in getting those skills up, you can end up being completely owned by someone who is of a lower level.

But first things first. There are three classes to play as: Witcher (Geralt), Sorceress (Triss) and Frightener (the first boss fight in Kaer Morhen).

Click to launch video

Click to launch video (5 MB)

The Frightener can stun, regenerate health and reflect spells, and has some pretty good attacks, which makes it a tricky opponent. The Sorceress can use four different types of magic (Life, Dimensional, Lightning and Earth), which translates into healing, teleporting and damage spells. They can do some serious damage, but like every caster in every other game, usually their HP is low. The Witcher is pretty neat to play with all those strength and stamina boosts, defensive and offensive Signs, and Alchemy boosts. Oh yeah, and the critical bonuses on certain swords.

The closed beta was pretty hilarious, since about 85% of the characters there were Witchers: huge army of Geralts, a handful of Trisses, and a couple of Frighteners. The open beta had a lot more people and a more balanced mix of the three, which allows for better matching for duels. You can challenge anyone and anyone can challenge you, so watch for the level ranges before accepting a duel, unless you want to lose often.

When you challenge someone to a duel or accept a duel notice, you have to pick the skills you want to use for you attack sequence and defensive sequence. As I mentioned before, the attack/defense mechanics are based on a rock-paper-scissor strategy. There are three types of attack and defense: fast, strong and magical. Obviously, the corresponding defenses will block those attacks, while some more advanced skills will have combined defenses (for example for fast and magical attacks simultaneously).

The thing is, you never know what your opponent is using until you watch the duel. The skills used will appear at the bottom of the screen, for each character, and your HP bar is at the top. The duel is an automated process, so as the skills in queue are used, they light up and your character will do the respective animation. At the end, the winner gets experience points and gold, a skill point if you level up. You always pay some orens for repairs and healing after a fight. As you win fights, your rank will go up, and you can compare your wins/losses rate with anyone else's on the leaderboard.

You can also equip two items on your character, some will have bonus "Fury" and "Elements", which are basically reagents for casting certain spells or using certain skills. Obviously, the best ones cost quite a bit, but there are a lot of skills that use neither, so it's totally up to you to pick what you want to equip and what skills you want to develop. It's a great way to personalize your character's fighting style.

If you happen to get tired of the class you picked, you can eventually switch by purchasing another playable class. Unfortunately, we can't play all three, which is a shame. At least I got to experience Sorceress on my beta account, and Witcher on my actual forum user account.

Enough people on the official forums have "complained" about the simplistic look, the 2D style, the game being a copy of some other... Personally, I like the simple look, I like the animations, I like the sound effects (even in the moments where my Sorceress sounded like a guy in lots of pain), and this totally takes me back to the days of playing 2D fighters on arcade machines. I suppose I could complain about the limited character selection, but the character development is so customizeable that even that is forgivable. But it would have been nice to select, let's say Leo, Vesemir, Eskel and Berengar in the Witcher class.

In the end, what we have in The Witcher: Versus is a fully free flash game that you can log on to, check your duels, have a couple of fights, send out some requests, and come back the next day to see how they turned out. And I love the fact that it's that casual.

So, who wants to duel me next?