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The Witcher started as an ugly Diablo clone

I’ve spent probably between thirty and forty hours so far in Witcher 3 and I’ve barely scratched the surface. What I’ve started to adore, however, is the combat - but, mainly, the characters, relationships and writing. The game has what I can only call “heart” that’s so often missing from what look like games from the minds of executive checklists.

It’s a good thing then that The Witcher games distanced themselves from the kinda of Diablo-style it initially took. Ryszard Chojnowski, a former project lead on the games, started showing off early demos on his YouTube channel.

It actually reminds me of Baldur’s Gate: Dark Alliance or Champions of Norrath. Remarkably, the biggest difference isn’t the play style - you can see some of that real-time hack and slash combat in Witcher today - but that you had a player-created character. As my love for Geralt grows every time I play Witcher 3, I’m increasingly glad I have a fully-fleshed character, with emotional weight and ties to others.

This is further insight into how radically games change. Remember when Alien: Isolation was a third-person game? It’s hard to imagine that now, but that was very much the vision of the game when it started - much like this version of Witcher was the one being shopped around to publishers.

Game development is a messy thing and it’s always fascinating to get insight into how a beloved game gets made. But we can also be glad that, as with Witcher and Alien: Isolation, the smart developers took the direction they eventually did.

Thanks Kotaku for drawing our attention to Witcher's troubling origin.

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