I finished The Witcher 3 over the weekend, and I’m currently feeling a little...well, empty. But also reflective, on how it was such a remarkable game, not just for its writing, but for more superficial things.
Namely, that it’s one of—if not the—most beautiful video games I’ve ever played. Which was helped a little by the fact I could play it on ultra settings on a PC, sure (with all the glorious lighting and weather effects that entails), but it’s mostly because it’s a game with such a keen eye for the cinematic.
From the opening cutscene to the very end, the game isn’t afraid to wrest control away from you for important scenes and get all Hollywood, ignoring the trap of focusing on talking heads (looking at you, Mass Effect) and framing its cutscenes and key moments in a way that would make a cinematographer proud.
If you haven’t played the game (or just want to revisit it), below are some examples of what I’m talking about. This is an abridged journey through the game’s story, told through the times I had to reach for the screenshot button while muttering “good Lord this looks wondrous”. Just...look at the framing. The angles. The focus. Other games need an entirely seperate photo mode to pull off shots like this.
When people say a game is “epic”, they’re usually being hyperbolic, or simply referring to the amount of content in a title. The Witcher 3 is an actual epic; yes, it’s long, but in cinematic terms it certainly looks the part as well.