TouchArcade Game of the Week: ‘Thronebreaker: The Witcher Tales’
The idea behind the TouchArcade Game of the Week is that every Friday afternoon we post the one game that came out this week that we think is worth giving a special nod to. Now, before anyone goes over-thinking this, it doesn’t necessarily mean our Game of the Week pick is the highest scoring game in a review, the game with the best graphics, or really any other quantifiable “best” thing. Instead, it’s more just us picking out the single game out of the week’s releases that we think is the most noteworthy, surprising, interesting, or really any other hard to describe quality that makes it worth having if you were just going to pick up one.
These picks might be controversial, and that’s OK. If you disagree with what we’ve chosen, let’s try to use the comments of these articles to have conversations about what game is your game of the week and why.
Without further ado…
Thronebreaker: The Witcher Tales
Some of my favorite games on mobile are ones that seemingly appear out of nowhere, and that is the case with the surprise iOS release of Thronebreaker: The Witcher Tales ($9.99) from CD Projekt Red this week. This is a spin-off game of the larger Witcher franchise, which many people probably know from the most recent game in the mainline series The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt or from the popular live-action The Witcher TV series on Netflix. However, this is a totally standalone experience that doesn’t require you having any knowledge of anything Witcher-related beforehand, and seeing as it’s a prequel of sorts to the original 2007 video game The Witcher, it’s probably a nice place to jump into the world of The Witcher if you’re totally unfamiliar. It’s also just a damn great fit for mobile due to the type of game it is.
Thronebreaker is an isometric RPG that sees you playing as Queen Meve who rules over the lands Lyria and Rivia in the Witcher universe. You’ll explore a number of huge overworld maps collecting resources, talking to NPCs, and completing quests. You’ll also have your fair share of battles, and this is where Thronebreaker channels another Witcher spin-off game called Gwent: The Witcher Card Game, which itself was a standalone spin-off of the playable in-game card game of the same name in The Witcher 3. A spin-off of a spin-off of an in-game mini-game? Yep! The card-based combat in Thronebreaker isn’t identical to Gwent in every way but is extremely similar, and in fact Thronebreaker was originally designed as a story-driven campaign for Gwent: The Witcher Card Game but CD Projekt Red decided to release it as its own distinct game.
Probably the thing that has struck me most about Thronebreaker so far is just how high the production values are at every turn. The in-game graphics are beautiful, as are the illustrated character art during cutscenes. All of the game’s dialogue is fully voice-acted too, and done extremely well. There’s even animated mouths on the character art while they’re talking, which sounds like a little thing but is actually pretty rare in a lot of games on mobile. The story and writing seems super intriguing so far and all of the excellent voice work brings everything to life, but it does come at a cost. This is a hefty game weighing in at over 4GB, so make sure you have the space to spare before diving in.
I know that Thronebreaker was originally developed for consoles and PC a couple of years ago and so really this new iOS version is just a port, but it isn’t all that often that you get to experience a game of this quality on mobile. This is a real-deal 30+ hour RPG with production values through the roof that you can stick in your pocket. The style of the game also fits really well on the touchscreen as you tap to move around the map and interact with things and drag cards into the playfield during the combat portions. It almost feels like it was designed for mobile from the start. If you’re a Witcher fan and haven’t played this one on another platform already, this new iOS version is an easy recommendation, but I’d also recommend it to people who aren’t familiar with The Witcher but appreciate mobile games of a caliber we don’t see all that frequently.