I normally give these ‘early impressions’ games about two or so hours. Generally, that’s enough. With Thronebreaker, I’ve put in about 6 hours now, and every time I dipped back in for ‘I just need this one screenshot’, I ended up at least doing another battle or two.

Which should be something of a good sign, right?

Ehhh.

Yes and no.

Thronebreaker unravels its secrets very slowly. First, perhaps a good idea to head back a few steps and tell you what Thronebreaker even is… Well, it’s a spin-off of The Witcher game series. Possibly the name gave that away. Specifically, it followed hot on the heels of Gwent: The Witcher Card Game, itself an extracted and expanded version of the Gwent card game that featured heavily as a constant distraction in The Witcher 3.

The biggest divergence from the original Witcher 3 version of Gwent, I think, is the removal of a row — from three per side, down to two — and a loosening of restrictions on where cards can be placed. Rather than each card being forced in a certain position, you might find that some cards have abilities that can activate from a certain position or that activate differently depending on where they’re placed.

Initially, this wasn’t a change I much cared for, but with further play, I’ve come to appreciate the increased dynamism allowed for.

Perhaps surprisingly for a CCG (although then again, maybe not so surprising given the developers) Thronebreaker has a story to tell. It’s a CRPG where you trade in character stats for your craftable, changeable deck of cards. You get a series of build trees to develop your camp. You get a fully voiced — narrator and characters both — tale.

The voice acting is, for the most part, very competent and the story has certainly picked up. With where I am, I believe I’m essentially done with the first map of the game and I’m looking forward to moving on to a new region, with hopefully more of a progression to both story and what cards are available to me to craft.

Asides from pacing with the game, the other complaint I have is that the big, fancy, ‘gold chests’ you can occasionally find around the map which look to have the best of the best treasure in them give you rewards for.. Er, a different game. They give you things in Gwent, the multiplayer edition.

If you’re interested in playing that, bonus! It’s what the Multiplayer option on the main menu takes you to, even. But if you’re not interested in that at all, realising you’ll never get anything beneficial from these for the game you are playing becomes incredibly irksome.

For all that… I’ve enjoyed Thronebreaker.

Many of these in-world story events will have decisions for you to make, which carry the promise of consequences down the line. Already there have been a few of these which, like the best of them in The Witcher 3, I’ve been left wondering if I did the right thing and what it might mean for the future.

Will I finish it?

Hard to say. But I’ll definitely be carrying on past the point of simply playing it for the purpose of this Humble Choice impressions post.

So if you’re wondering whether or not the inclusion of Thronebreaker in February’s Humble Choice should stay your hand from hitting ‘Pause’, my opinion based on these early impressions so far is that it should. :)


Naithin

Gamer, reader, writer, husband and father of two boys. Former WoW and Gaming blogger, making a return to the fold to share my love of all things looty.

3 Comments

WCRobinson · February 27, 2023 at 11:59 am

I adore GWENT and have put in hundreds of hours, but for some reason Thronebreaker didn’t grab me. I think, because you’re against rigidly designed CPU enemies, it becomes more of a puzzle game, whereas GWENT feels like an active chess match where every move is about predicting your opponent.

Without that strategic element, I struggle to enjoy it as much personally. I do really like the presentation and characters, however. Maybe I’ll go back to it one day.

    Naithin · February 27, 2023 at 7:13 pm

    Funny you should say that. At first I really liked the puzzle fights where it gave you specific mechanics/criteria for victory. But at least on the first map, and with how I was approaching completion of it, it did rather quickly come to feel like every battle was a puzzle battle and I started hankering for the ‘standard’ format ones again.

    And that’s even before adding in any consideration for the difference in versusing another player vs. mere AI. xD

    I still think I’ll go back and do some more of it, and it did what was probably intended, and got me to install GWENT (which I hadn’t tried since beta), but I’m not yet convinced I’d do a lot more of that one. Although more due to time constraints rather than any belief it isn’t fun!

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