20 Days of Video Game Characters: Day 7 – Geralt of Rivia (The Witcher)

I know this slightly cheating, as The Witcher series source material are books. But, I could not pass up the opportunity to talk abut Geralt, he is such a brilliant character.

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, released back in 2015 to critical acclaim is one of my favourite games of all time. Leading up to its release I wasn’t that interested in it, due to to never playing the first game and not being a fan of the second, as I didn’t really know what was going on in the narrative. The third game changed all that, being much more accessible to newcomers and those that never read the books. The Witcher 3 changed my perception about how big a game could be, with so much content, yet retain incredible degrees of quality throughout. It had a gripping narrative, an expansive cast of memorable characters, and a plethora of side quests that nearly all had an interesting story with them. The game would not be what it was without Geralt of Rivia, the witty, gruff monster slayer himself.

What is particularly great about Geralt, much like the rest of the game, is his moral ambiguity. While throughout the games, he demonstrates a willingness and drive to help and protect innocents from the terror of many different monsters, it is also a job. Killing monsters is a part of his job, meaning he will require payment upon completing his tasks. This can lead to some tough moral situations, where taking money for saving people often leaves them in difficult financial times. However, there are opportunities in the games for the player to choose to reduce the fees or cut them out entirely, this allows for a more traditionally ‘good’ character.

However, it isn’t just this context that makes Geralt such a complex figure. His perceptions and views, which in many ways can be seen as progressive for the setting, about the world and people around him, make him all the more likeable and relatable to audiences today. ‘Racism’ and xenophobia are themes that run throughout the world of The Witcher. Geralt often shows his opposition to these types of views, ironically exhibiting more empathy than normal people, considering Witchers’ are known to have their emotions removed.

In addition, the relationships with his many different companions are another highlight. While he may not always show it, he cares deeply for his friends and allies, portraying a strong loyalty that isn’t common in the world he inhabits. It’s in these conversations with those close to him do we see more layers of his character, particularly with Triss, Yennefer and Ciri. The latter allows us to see a proud and tender fatherly side that is unexpected from the cold front he puts on. Furthermore, his sharp wit and cynicism are more of his defining traits, and are quite relatable in various circumstances. There are so many moments that left me in stitches because of Geralt’s responses to the people around him and the situations he gets himself into. The Witcher would not be the same without Geralt, and he remains one of gaming’s most iconic characters.

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