After being announced and then officially shown during the summer of this year, the series Netflix The Witcher has finally landed on the large digital distribution platform. With 8 episodes lasting about an hour each, the title is being rather appreciated by those who are about to watch the latter, which is obviously free for subscribers to the service. The company has invested heavily in the creation of the live-action, unquestionably managing to do an excellent job, at least on a technical level. In case you are interested in learning more, we refer you to our review of The Witcher.
We have in our hands a re-adaptation, which has as its main objective the revival, but under a completely different perspective, the narrative universe that sees the iconic witcher Geralt as the protagonist. Having originally created The Witcher universe through several books published in the 90s, the writer Andrzej Sapkowski he managed to tell a story that has survived to this day very well, thanks also to the help of the videogame medium. In 2007, the now famous software house CD Projekt Red brought the first episode of The Witcher video games to the shelves, obtaining some success. The real surge of this franchise, however, can be found by focusing on the third episode of the series: The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt. This has in fact completely shocked the market for the intrinsic qualities presented and for some DLC to say the least out of the ordinary - despite presenting some uncertainties related to input lag and a combat system not fully up to expectations.
After analyzing the entire Netflix series we have gathered the major differences and curiosities that distinguish it from its playful counterpart, and we are here to tell you about them. We also suggest to those who have been able to enjoy and appreciate only one of the two products, to look at the “opposite” version with some interest. Before continuing with the reading we would like to remind you that the following text contains spoilers, divided into major and minor, on the re-adaptations of The Witcher by Netflix and CD Projekt Red.
Same as The Witcher, but more varied
The newcomer in the Netflix catalog is configured immediately as a re-adaptation to the series, which is very different from the definition of porting. Whether you agree with this idea or not, you have to consider that many choices related to the plot and the characters have been purposely made going "against the tide" compared to the more strictly canonical details. Nonetheless, it is certainly noteworthy that original author Andrzej Sapkowski was in close contact with showrunner Lauren Schmidt Hissrich while filming The Witcher, precisely to ensure a review that is at least respectful of the most crucial moments of the plot and of the various choices made during production.
Without digging too deeply, the first detail that catches the eye is the presence of several black actors in the cast of The Witcher. Generally this might seem like a fairly common feature, which almost all productions take for granted now, but many users have turned their noses up on it - especially when the writers rated a black actress for the role of Princess Cirille. It must be considered that the origins of this franchise are 100% Polish, and that in Poland about 97% of individuals have white skin. Precisely for this reason, both in video games and in books, the presence of black people is not even taken into consideration.
Since the Netflix series is a reinterpretation, this standard can be largely bypassed, also considering that the world of The Witcher is very different from ours already starting from its conformation. Even if the general design of several characters has therefore been altered, in the production a particular eye has been paid to the characterization, which instead wants to be as faithful as possible to Sapkowski's books. In the various scenes, being in front of individuals of various ethnicities is actually pleasant, and this choice for the cast therefore shows itself to be well thought out and implemented… almost always. In fact, although some iconic designs such as that of Geralt, Cirille and Yennefer (even if its portals are much less showy) have been respected with extreme fidelity ... the same cannot be said for the sorceress Triss Merigold.
Variations for the characters of The Witcher
The particularly pale sorceress, with the scarlet hair that had always distinguished her in the events of video games, has given way to an actress very different from this image, who was not strongly appreciated by those who loved the CD Triss Projekt Red, and by those who have also chosen her as a partner, putting aside Yennefer. Referring precisely to this, it is in fact easy to notice the fact that in the series - at least as regards the first season shown - Geralt doesn't even consider Triss Merigold as his mate, as he is immediately bewitched by Yennefer.
Among the characters closely related to the plot we also find Dandelion, who has also received many reinterpretations. Starting from the name it immediately turns out that the typical minstrel has the name of Jaskier, a Polish translation of Dandelion. For the rest we find the classic guy always inclined to get in the middle of trouble, while he is intent on composing some melody to raise a nest egg. Nonetheless, his appearance is less whimsical and colorful, and Jaskier is much more attached to Geralt (against his will) as the witcher does his job.
Speaking of the latter, however, we note how some sides of his character have been changed and perhaps softened. The design embodied by Henry Cavill is undoubtedly well mirrored and realized, and the actor manages to best interpret the very difficult Geralt of Rivia. Nevertheless, the character turns out to be a little different from the classic canons, for various reasons. It is appreciable how the Netflix production has decided to highlight its extreme neutrality, omnipresent when it comes to taking sides anywhere, but also its avoidance of killing monsters until it is strictly necessary has been well studied among other things. In principle, however, as a character who shouldn't be able to feel Geralt was particularly mellowed, as can be seen on some occasions that are not too sporadic.
Transition between mediums
The real basic differences - which manage to strongly distinguish the re-proposal of the universe of The Witcher by Netflix from the one by CD Projekt Red - mainly reside in the difference of medium. The transition that occurs between when you play with a peripheral in your hands and when you are in your living room watching the images that scroll independently is certainly obvious, but this is not limited so much to the way in which the work is enjoyed, as to the contents present within the latter. One of the main defects that those who have played The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt and the previous chapters have encountered, lies precisely in the combat system. This was in fact rather simplified, with hitboxes and rather permissive time windows and the often too marked possibilities of getting away with a fight. The game over always reduced to the bone, however, also resided in the possibility of engaging and conducting the clashes at will, with the essence of the RPG of the game that was consecrated by the latter. An infinity of potions, objects and reagents, there was certainly little choice of action and also the signs that characterized all the works of the witcher were certainly no less.
In the Netflix series of course all this is missing, as the choices have already been made for us. Nevertheless, the creators of The Witcher have tried to reduce this gap in the best possible way, through an out-of-the-ordinary manufacturing quality. The clashes, even if quite small, are particularly memorable and almost make us forget those we have experienced in video games. With sensational directing movements and special effects certainly very accurate, what was possible to do to respect Geralt's character has been done. Unfortunately the signs were also not very present and except for some Aard and an attempted Axii nothing else was shown, at least in the first series of episodes. Potion brewing wasn't particularly mentioned in Geralt's skills either, although the witcher will find himself dealing with them on occasion. It is also possible to notice, leaving aside the moments of adrenalinic combat already mentioned, how some habits of the WItcher turn out to be slightly different. In fact, Geralt is never seen with two swords as is his usual in the game, precisely because, except for special occasions, he always carries the metal one with him, leaving the silver weapon to his trusty horse Rutillia. This choice is justified by the fact that silver is a precious mineral and the problems of the Witcher are already many ... let alone if some bandit decides to strike a fight trying to steal it! Nevertheless, the silver swords are only effective against monsters even in the series, and the dilemma of which to choose has not therefore disappeared, it has simply been cleverly hidden.
What then we often ask ourselves when dealing with the various episodes is whether the criterion by which all the choices were considered was valid. If we think about it, one of the characteristics that made the witcher adventures popular was precisely the freedom of action and behavior, with decisions capable of destroying or saving entire populations. These then were often necessary also to outline the character of the protagonist, who from completely apathetic he was at the end of the events very similar to how we would have liked him to be, especially with the ending that managed to mirror all of that.
The last big difference that we want to underline lies in the map of the continent: this was never really drawn by the writing Andrzej Sapkowski, on the contrary, for example, by the author of Tolkien who started from the creation of a map. The continents seen in the game are also not faithfully represented, given that these are also adapted for playful needs, and the series has decided in a sense to do the same. In fact, in the realization the Netflix authors took a cue in part from that of Cd Projekt Red and in part from that narrated in the books. In doing so, a combination that may seem acceptable and optimal for the recordings has been created, and the work done turns out to be well done too.
The Witcher: Do I Watch It Or Don't I Watch It?
As also mentioned in our review, although this series turns out to be mediocre in some ways, it is certainly a more than good product. The manufacturing quality and the choices made in the development environment have allowed us to bring a well-packaged and undoubtedly appreciable product to the Netflix catalog. Nevertheless, we advise you not to dwell too much on how different you may have loved in video games and books, and to resign yourself to the fact that you are not dealing with a medium where choices of any kind can be made. If you have loved Geralt's adventures in another form, however, you will at least be satisfied even if perhaps not fully satisfied.
For those who have seen the series and have never touched one of the three main titles of CD Projekt Red ... well what are you waiting for? If you enjoyed this adventure even just a little, you can't help but throw yourself back into this narrative universe with your consoles and your PCs. By doing so you will live many new adventures with Geralt - who you will be in charge of yourself - and you will realize that video games are more easily able to give value to the latter. We also want to remind you that The Witcher 3 will be available soon on Xbox Game Pass, which may be the best way to get your hands on the work.