True Love in ‘The Witcher 3’

The Witcher 3 tells one of the most beautiful love stories in videogames.

Written by M. Joshua Cauller / Published on August 31, 2016

The Witcher 3 weaves this longform story of pursuit that’s only possible in a 50+ hour game—a tale of a love deeper than romance. I won’t be able to preserve all spoilers, yet I will avoid specifics, because I hope you experience this yourself.

You can see it in his eyes as he looks at her—uncanny for a video game character—Geralt loves her more than anybody else in the world. I’m not talking about romantic love, but something deeper—beyond desire.

Geralt begins this epic with the pursuit of his ‘lover of yore,’ Yennifer—which you soon discover to be a ruse; one that gives way to the real hunt—for Geralt’s adopted daughter, Ciri.

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I caught up with the local warlord; a self-appointed Baron, who crossed paths with Ciri. He begins sharing what he saw of her, when suddenly we’re no longer playing as Geralt, but the ashen-haired young woman, herself.

"“This is my story, not yours. You must let me finish telling it.”"
We stumble into the woods in Ciri’s boots—a telling misstep that points to her wounded state. She discovers a little girl looking for her father; who soon finds herself surrounded by wolves. Ciri dispatches the beasts with a precision and flow of movement that echoes Geralt’s; but when she dodges a wolf’s lunge, she lights the air with unnatural green—and is suddenly ten meters away (leading to questions about how she did that). After Ciri kills the ravenous pack, she shields her sword, and comforts the girl—telling her she’s looking for her father too.

Suddenly we’re back in Geralt’s boots. The Baron promises to tell you more—if you do a major favor for him.

This is the Witcher 3’s key currency: narrative about Ciri. The only way to earn this precious commodity is to perform impossible feats for those who have information. I feel Geralt’s dogged insistence: I want to know more about this generous young woman who stands-up for the weak—even when she’s wounded.

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Everybody wants Ciri: wraiths called The Wild Hunt chase her through across worlds for her blood. The emperor employs his whole army and spy network to track her down to make her his successor. Even Yennifer tries to coerce Ciri to serve in the Lodge of Sorceresses. But not Geralt: he just wants Ciri to have the freedom to choose what she wants.

After Geralt and Ciri are reunited, she sets in her heart to go after a particular enemy that’s been hunting her. It’s brash and potentially stupid, but Geralt’s excited that she’s choosing what she desires. So he’s in.

Geralt and Ciri need to split up, but they disagree on who goes where. So they settle the dispute with rock paper scissors—which I thought was silly until I realized: they’re disagreeing as equals. As the player, I get to enjoy both boss fights, and in that moment, step into the solidarity of knowing that both parties are exactly where they need to be: supporting one another. Fighting for one another. A short while later, Ciri runs ahead of Geralt: making a new dangerous decision—she doesn’t wait for Geralt’s input. She cuts him off when he tries to stop her, “This is my story, not yours. You must let me finish telling it.”

This is the make-it-or-break-it moment. Everything has been said, and now there’s nothing Geralt can do — but trust that their relationship is strong enough to endure all possible outcomes.