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It’s smaller detail in the graphics, narrative and

It’s hard to forget the
smaller moments in the Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt, the soft pink sunset in White
Orchard or Pricilla’s enchanting musical performance in Novigrad. In contrast
to this the Witcher 3 has a very dark atmosphere to it that is used to create
fear from different aspects such as the environments, narrative, graphics to
name a few. The game uses smaller detail in the graphics, narrative and audio
to make a more engaging experience for the player. In this assignment, I will
be explaining different textual elements of the Witcher 3 and linking them to
how fear is used throughout the Witcher 3 and in the different textual elements
used throughout the game.

I chose to use the Witcher
3 as the topic of this document revolves around because of the various
different themes running throughout the game that I could have used, such as
War, death and poverty just to name a few. But I chose to use fear over the
rest because I felt that it was one of the prominent themes running throughout
the Witcher 3 without deriving or taking away for the main narrative of the
game. Another reason I chose to talk about fear in the Witcher 3 because of the
different types of fear used, this ranges from fear of the Unknown to the fear
of heights and the fear of death. All of these add up to make a more engaging experience
for the player without removing for the overall atmosphere created within the
Witcher 3 but enhancing it to make a more enjoyable experience for the player.

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Fear is usually defined by “A
distressing emotion aroused by impending danger, evil, pain, etc., whether the
threat is real or imagined; the feeling or condition of being afraid.”  The Witcher 3 uses fear as a means of
engaging the player emotionally within the premise of the Witcher 3.

The Narrative contextualises the
feeling of fear amongst the NPC’s (Non-Playable Characters) or character with
the world and the overall prospect of war. In the Witcher 3 there exists larger
conflicts, including that of the Wild Hunt closing in and the larger northern
wars. If this was a more typical fantasy RPG (Role Playing Game), Geralt would
be duty-bound to fight and stop the conflict singlehandedly for no reason other
than he was the player character and the player character must be at the centre
of the action at all times.  Game such as Skyrim and Destiny elevate the
player into a position of that I have just mentioned due to the game following
a more traditional trend in placing the player in this position.

 

However, in the Witcher 3 this is
not the case, so the conflict of the northern wars becomes a framing device
more than anything else. It contextualises the general uneasiness of the world,
hanging over it like a tarpaulin, but never making its presence felt in any
direct way. This brings the focus of the game down to the citizens of the world
and how these wars are affecting their lives. These people are not concerned
about the outcome of the war, they are fearful of poverty, about how their
relationships with others are now strained and how they cannot trust those
around them anymore. These fears make the civilians appear to be more human
like in their approach to these uncertainties. This in turn creates an
opportunity for the player to empathise with the civilians and be fearful about
what will happen to them.

 

As well as the concerns and fears
of the wars the civilians are also fearful about outside help like that from
Witchers such as Geralt due to their mutant nature, The Witchers are
simultaneously hated and feared by the populace of the world, viewing them as
greedy sellswords at best, and unnatural freaks at worst. Mankind within this
world generally dislikes and fears anything that is not exactly like them. This
stigma for anything that is not a hundred percent like civilians, mimics racism
and creates unease and a feeling of fear and mistrust in the player towards the
civilians and how they interact with the player.

 

The Witcher 3 narrative consists
of much more than the main story of the game, through the story the player will
experience the vast world of the Witcher whilst they will have an opportunity
to solve and take part in a wide range of side quests, slaying giant monsters,
gathering items for crafting and hunting down thieves that disrupt villagers.
The designers of the world used the mechanism of the game as a metaphor, this
in turn allows the player to tell part of the story. By having the gameplay
influence the decisions of the character will make through the story and within
the world. This is not only letting the player have certain agencies in the
world but also explore different ideas and concepts that are fleshed out in the
world.

 

The world of the Witcher 3 is
immensely beautiful because of the quality of the photorealistic graphics.
Mountains and fields are filled with the beauty of nature, so much so that
simple things like rocks and grass can catch the player’s attention. The game’s
day to night cycle and intricate lighting system can mean something as simple
as a lake can look drastically different depending on the time of day. This
contrast with the design of the world induces a feeling of fear in the player
due to different environments such a swamps and mountain.

 

Velen is a former province but
has become a war-torn swampland. The swamp generates fear of the unknown about
what is lurking within it. Skellige is a very mountainous and volcanic province
and therefore invokes a fear of heights. Each environment uses a different type
of fear stimulant to create a more engaging experience for the player.

 

The monsters scattered throughout
the world of the Witcher 3 use elements that are recognisable such as the
griffin which is a cross between a lion and an eagle but also have elements
that are off-putting and create a sense of fear. The “Uncanny Valley” theory
suggest there is a characteristic drop in emotional responses that happens when
someone encounters an entity that is almost but not quite human such as the
some of the creatures used throughout the game. In general people tend to
develop a sense of unease, discomfort and can become fearful of the entity that
have these characteristics. Creatures within the Witcher such as neckers and
drowners use this theory to great length to create a sense of fear within the
player when fighting them.        

 

Like the narrative, the
environment and the way it has been designed is a constant reminder of the
northern wars. This is shown through subtle design choices such as hangings and
dead bodies littered throughout the world. These different elements are placed
in such a way that the player does not directly acknowledge them, unless
specifically looking for them but rather subconsciously.  All of the different elements are
designed to induce a sense of fear amongst players. This is done through
lighting, world designs and objects placed throughout the world.

 

The
audio used throughout the Witcher 3 compliments the atmosphere created by the
narrative and the graphics. Linking the audio to the narrative the graphics
create visual cues as well as audio cues that are memorable for the player, the
creatures within the world sound different from one another and are easily
identifiable and Roach’s trotting sounds different on wet mud as opposed to dry
mud. The audio used in the Witcher 3 comes from five different sources, these
being; music, ambiance, FX, language and Foley. 
All of sources add up to create a more engaging experience but can also
be used to create fear.  

 

The
Language or dialog used varies depending on the location, this affects the way
the NPC’s speak and the accents used. The majority of the occupants of the
world have varying different British accents but some have more of a German
accent. The British/English accent is usually preferred for film villains
because it comes off as less trustworthy. 
This stigma created by films and media
can relate to fear in the case of the Witcher
3.  The use of this accent makes the
civilians of the world create a sense of unease and make the player fearful of
what they are going to do. “British
accents are perfect for film villains because it makes them appear less
trustworthy”

 

Fear
is created in a similar way to how horror game uses audio as a device to
unsettle the player and ultimately create a feeling of fear. Horror games
usually link sounds to unusual visuals such as different creatures used and
uses jump scares to create fear.  The
Witcher uses these concept to a slightly lesser degree.  For example, the player will usually hear
something before seeing it. This creates fear of the unknown and allows the
player to speculate what it is without seeing it. Audio is a massively
important part of creating the atmosphere and feeling of the game without
impeding the narrative and graphics because it enhances them. Without the use
of audio, the Witcher 3 wouldn’t have the atmosphere and the amount of fear
enduring moments that it has, most games are completely different with the
audio vs the game without the audio. 

 

The
mechanics of the Witcher 3 are similar to other RPG game such as Skyrim and
Fallout but with alterations that make it unique to other games. The Witcher principally
revolves around combat and different strategies to defeat different opponents
and monsters throughout the world. If the player gets these strategies wrong
the player would die. This allows the player to fear death within the game and
forces them to plan for each encounter. For example, neckers are susceptible to
being slowed but without a slowing effect they can overwhelm the player, drowners
are similar to neckers but instead of a slowing effect, they are affected by
fire.

 

As
well as strategies to affect the creatures in the Witcher, the player can
affect Geralt himself through different positions that augment different
attributes such as health and stamina. These give an immediate buff to the
player but don’t last long. This gives the player an advantage in combat but if
the positions are used too much it increases the player’s toxicity level. With
the increase in toxicity levels the player’s health bar depletes over time
again giving the player the fear of death. This fear of death forces the player
to take strategical use positions when they are needed, not when the player
feels like using them. The positions are also limited to three so the game makes
the player use them wisely. As well as being able to craft positions, the
player can also craft different weapons and armour. These give the player a
bonus in defence and attack to a certain extent. There are three different
armour types in the game, these being light, medium and heavy. Each one of
these provide different enhancements like increased health recovery. Having the
wrong equipment or broken equipment can allow the player to get defeated more
easily and in turn create a fear of being defeated by different enemies   

 

Overall
the Witcher 3 uses different textual elements throughout the game to provoke
fear in the player. This feeling of fear makes the game feel more engaging and
create a more immersive experience because the game feels more grounded and
realistic.  Fear allows the player to
empathise with the world and create an emotional investment with the different
characters and civilians of the world and fear what will happen to them. The
Witcher 3 uses more traditional fear simulants such as heights and the fear of
the unknown to scare the player and allow for a more memorable experience.  

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