Do ‘The Witcher’ Games Follow the Books? (& How Closely)

Do the Witcher Games Follow the Books How Closely
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The Witcher series of books written by Andrzej Sapkowski spawned an extremely fascinating world that has been adapted in numerous forms of media. The most well-known adaptations are, of course, video games developed by CD Projekt Red and Netflix series. In today’s post, we’re going to focus on The Witcher games series which includes three massively successful games. Many fans are wondering whether the Witcher games follow the books closely, and if not, what are the differences?

  • Article Breakdown:
  • Witcher games follow the books in the sense that they serve as non-canon sequels to the books. The story of the first game in the Witcher series follows the events that happened after the last book in the series called “Lady of the Lake”.
  • Despite the strong connection between Witcher books and Witcher games, there are some small and significant differences between the two works.

Did The Witcher start as a book or a game?

The Witcher series started as a series of books written by Polish author Andrzej Sapkowski. The main series of books includes 5 novels and all revolve around Geralt of Rivia, a famed monster-hunter who belongs to the group of mutated humans called Witchers. Witchers are genetically enhanced humans, they enhance themselves via mutagens, this is needed in order to fight monsters that appeared after the event called “Conjunction of Spheres”.

There was no magic, nor magical races and creatures in the world prior to this event. Geralt of Rivia is not only the main protagonist of the books, but he is also the main character in the game series as well, but if you’re reading this you’re probably aware of that.

How many books do the Witcher games cover?

Witcher games do not cover any books because the games are not direct adaptations of the books. They serve as sequels to the book series and are so far considered to be non-canon. The events of the first game called Witcher 1, follow Geralt of Rivia after he wakes up with severe amnesia in Kaer Morhen.

This is a direct continuation of the last book in the series called Lady of the Lake during which Geralt supposedly dies. The games start off by giving Geralt another chance at life and giving him amnesia which easily explains why you, at the start of the games, know nothing about yourself, your abilities, and the world around you.

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Do you need to read the books to play the Witcher games?

You don’t need to necessarily read the Witcher books to play the games. The games tell a unique story that follows Geralt after the main events of the books already took place. You can easily learn everything about the world, magic, characters, and prior events just by playing the games, reading the codex, and reading in-game books. However, I will always recommend reading the source material in order to experience the story and the context better.

What are the differences between the Witcher games and books?

It’s reasonable to assume that some things had to be added and subtracted from the source material in order for the games to be interesting and engaging, after all, we’re talking about adaptations to a completely different form of media. The Witcher games weren’t exempt from this rule and as such, we can notice the following differences between the books and games.

Geralt

geralt games

Geralt is well, a completely different person in the books than he is in the series. In the books he is flawed, he is sad, he constantly moans and we are constantly exposed to his internal ranting. He is also nowhere near as invincible as he is in the games, he breaks easily, and he has old wounds that never healed properly. Geralt is still a superhuman fighter don’t get me wrong, he has advanced knowledge of alchemy and monsters and to an extent some minor knowledge of magic but he is not an all-mighty and all-knowledgable killing machine as he is in the games.

Book Geralt is human first and foremost, while the game Geralt is Witcher first and foremost. His personality had to be made more neutral in the games, this is a reasonable change since most of the big decisions and dialogues are left for the players to choose. He also had to be made into an overpowered superhero type of monster hunter, if he wasn’t the game would severely lack in action.

Other characters

Witcher 3 characters

Significant differences have been made for the supporting characters of the franchise as well. Let’s start with Dandelion. Book Dandelion is kind, loyal, funny, and the oldest Geralt’s friend. In the game, he comes off as comic relief, a fool, an annoyance, and someone who complicates things further. Triss plays significant roles in the games and you would be surprised to know that in the books, she is not as prominent.

She is basically obsessed with Geralt and has to resort to some desperate tricks to win him over. On the other side, Yennefer is present only in the third installment of the game series, and in the books, she is much more present and plays a significant role. So when it comes to Yennefer and Triss their roles as characters have been completely reversed. The bond Yennefer and Ciri share is also more meaningful and fleshed out in the books.

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Eredin, the White Frost and Ciri

ereding

If you’re not familiar with the books you might be surprised that the main conflict in the books and in the games is totally different. In the books Eredin is not a stereotypical villain in plate armor, White Frost is not a mystical and ominous force that conquers the worlds and rids them of life, and Ciri…well Ciri is not the chosen one.

It’s hard, to sum up, the story of 5 books and 3 games into a single sentence but I will try to explain it to the best of my extent. Eredin plays a smart part in the books, White Frost is actually a climate change that cannot be stopped and will happen no matter who sits on the throne. Ciri is not the chosen one herself, rather her child is prophesized to conquer the whole world! As you can see significant changes have been made to the main conflict, I have no doubt that those changes were implemented in order to give a satisfying ending to the players and to make the story more exciting.

Magic, Combat & Monsters

signs menu and consumables

Significant changes have been made to signs, combat, and monsters. Monsters are not nearly as prevalent as in the games, although they are present, not every inch of the world is covered with them. Geralt uses signs in the books rarely, and only some of the signs are mentioned in the games.

We’ve already covered the parts with the combat, it’s somewhat overexaggerated in the games. Considering the fact that Witcher is an action RPG (the keyword being action) this is a reasonable adjustment.

There are numerous other changes across the two media, but it would be difficult to sum them all up in this short post.

Have something to add? Let us know in the comments below!

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