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'The Witcher: Monster Slayer’ Review: Fast Progress Doesn’t Come Cheap

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'The Witcher: Monster Slayer’ Review: Fast Progress Doesn’t Come Cheap

We're big fans of The Witcher here at GAMINGbible. From Andrzej Sapkowski's books, to the trilogy of mainline games, and the more recent Netflix Series, there's a lot to enjoy in the franchise. In fact, we even voted The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt as our second best game of all time. (Although, we also put The Last Of Us at number seven, so what do we know?) So naturally, when The Witcher: Monster Slayer, a new mobile game, came out, I had to find out for myself what's on offer here.

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I'd like to begin by saying The Witcher: Monster Slayer is somewhere between Pokémon GO and Harry Potter: Wizards Unite, in so much as you have to travel the real world with your phone in hand in order to play the game. Like in both of those games, monsters spawn - but in Monster Slayer, you'll have to kill the appearing creatures. In exchange, you're rewarded with materials that can be used to craft potions, oils and other useful items. If you're familiar with the world of the Witcher, you won't be surprised to learn that potions and oils are used when combatting various beasts.

Check out the gameplay in this trailer

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Before each battle, you're given the option of equipping yourself with the aforementioned items, as well as a sword and a type of bomb. When combat begins, your potion and/or oil will be in effect. You use your sword by swiping a finger across the screen. You can carry out fast attacks and strong attacks, with the latter requiring a slower pull from one edge to the other. The more attacks you use without interruption, the more you build your critical hit meter, triggering a stronger attack when full. You can also parry attacks by holding your finger to the relevant on-screen area as a monster strikes you. To use a bomb, you simply tap the icon when it's available (there's a cooldown period after use). You also have your sign.

At the time of writing, I only have the Igni sign, which lets me burn foes. To use this attack, I tap the icon and then draw a 'V' shape on the screen. Once performed, there's a cooldown for this attack, too. There are other signs, which are unlocked by using skill points on a skill tree, but I've yet to progress beyond the Igni sign as I've been sharing my skill points on other trees, in order to increase other traits, like my attack stats.

The Witcher: Monster Slayer / Credit: CD Projekt / Spokko
The Witcher: Monster Slayer / Credit: CD Projekt / Spokko
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Back to the monsters, and I have to say I'm impressed by how many different enemies there are in The Witcher: Monster Slayer. Low-level enemies like Nekkers and Endrega Drones, to rarer creatures such as Bruxas and Leshens, ensure you won't be bored while trying to fill your bestiary. The only issue is how far you have to travel to face them. Enemies don't naturally populate the same area, and you can only initiate a fight if they're in your vicinity (demonstrated by a circle surrounding your character). There are items you can buy in-game to summon more creatures at a time, but that can get expensive, and leads me to my biggest qualm with Monster Slayer.

Although The Witcher: Monster Slayer is a free game, it's virtually impossible to enjoy without spending money. CD Projekt/Spokko sent me £19.99 of the in-game currency (referred to as gold), but I still felt the need to buy more of it myself, running up a total of £7.96 of my own spend, making for a combined £27.95. All of that gold is gone now, by the way, and I don't know if any of it was truly worth it. What I will say is that I wouldn't have used that much if it was all from my own pocket, so I can't give a definitive opinion on the in-game microtransactions, but something about it doesn't sit right with me. I never feel the urge to spend this much on Pokémon GO, for example.

The Witcher: Monster Slayer / Credit: CD Projekt / Spokko
The Witcher: Monster Slayer / Credit: CD Projekt / Spokko
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All that being said, The Witcher: Monster Slayer does genuinely make me feel like a real witcher more than any other game I've played before. The simple gimmick of physically moving in real life, to go from one point on a map to another, does add a sense of realism to the experience that I haven't encountered when playing one of the more traditional Witcher games. The problem with this part is just how much movement is needed.

In truth, the developers have taken the concept of 'The Path' from the Witcher a bit too literally. There are in-game quests that require you to travel over half a mile, which doesn't sound like much, until you get there and find the final area is inaccessible. No joke, this happened to me twice. The first time, I started from my home and found the final point hidden in a private garden. The next time I tried, I relocated the beginning of the quest to the entrance of a local park, only to find the finish line was quite literally on an official running course, locked away from the general public. I eventually found a way to complete the quest on my third attempt, but the previous efforts show that CDPR have some refining to do because this was more frustrating than I would have ever expected.

The Witcher: Monster Slayer / Credit: CD Projekt / Spokko
The Witcher: Monster Slayer / Credit: CD Projekt / Spokko
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There are some issues with The Witcher: Monster Slayer that will likely hold it back from being a huge success, but there's still a good game in here. Little touches like dialogue options in the quests, or the ability to unlock weapons and outfits that we've seen in other Witcher games are delightful inclusions. It's also less than 2GB according to my phone, so it won't eat much storage space. Sadly, the overall experience is marred by a gesturing towards microtransactions and a tendency for quests to lead you down real-life dead ends.

Pros: Feels like The Witcher, variety of creatures, solid combat system

Cons: The need to spend to progress, map issues, enemies don't spawn close together

For fans of: The Witcher franchise, Pokémon GO, Harry Potter: Wizards Unite

6/10: Good

The Witcher: Monster Slayer is out now for Android and iOS. Some in-game currency provided by the publisher. Find a guide to GAMINGbible's review scores here.

Featured Image Credit: CD Projekt/Spokko

Topics: Mobile Games, Review

James Daly
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