The Witcher is an independent title from Polish publisher CD Projekt, a company that has refrained from development until now. Using a modified version of the Neverwinter Nights engine, the Witcher puts the character in the role of, well, a witcher. Set in a medieval fantasy world created by renowned Polish author Andrzej Sapkowski (who seems to have been translated into every language but English), which combines a gritty, realistic interpretation of the mid ages with magic and monsters - often not following stereotypes at all. The result is almost like low fantasy, though Sapkowski's world clearly isn't ours.
CD Projekt put the NWN engine through some amazing changes in a short period of time. While there are cues and effects that are still recognizable, in many ways the engine has been completely redone. Gone, for example, is the limited perspective camera, which has been replaced by one that tracks the game's character from a Tomb Raider-style view, though the camera is adjustable. Also departed are the tile-based maps, instead being replaced with areas designed by artists in 3DSMax that give the game a more natural look.
One of the key facets of the world that the team is trying to recreate is the focus on sword combat, and while the style shown off at E3 was hardly compelling, it did add a measure of complexity that is missing in a game like Diablo. An excellent combat system is key to the game's success and we feel that CD Projekt should experiment and playtest to find the best possible solution.
Dialogue is to be a focus of the game and a comparison was made to Fallout, how NPCs would remember what you said and what you did, holding grudges or being particularly willing to help. In keeping with Sapkowski's narrative world, good and evil aren't readily discernible, it's usually a matter of shades of grey, and this will be reflected in the conversations the character will have. Along the way to one of three possible endings, the player will cross a world map from location to location, find random encounters and set the tone through his words and deeds.
CD Projekt is aiming for a 2005 release, though they wouldn't specify further than that.