Event: Witcher 2 Experience Day
The problem with drinking in Shoreditch (as I often do) is you really do see it all, all of London’s fashionistas and fashion faux pas converge around Hoxton square so really an elf wasn’t going to look out of place – Or was he? Welcome to the problems of questing with the Witcher 2 interactive launch experience.
Mere weeks after roaming these same streets in search of zombies I was back again stepping into another trendy Shoreditch watering hole only this time there was straw on the floor and a set of stocks in the corner, the darkened room bustled with the sights and sounds of medieval life. No mini foods here, just a table heaped with meat and cheeses and all the ale you could drink. Buxom serving wenches swept the floor, peasants gambled in the corner and a strongman challenged all comer’s to an arm wrestling content.
We had more pressing matters however, we had a banquet appointment with King Foltest, he had just waged a war against the elves and won, now we were to be his honoured guests. Climbing the rickety stairs to the banquet hall we see a feast laid out before us, the king sits at the head of the table and I bow to meet him “MY Liege” I proclaim chuckling to myself, we sit and are quizzed by the nobles opposite us about the days affairs…we play along and blag our way through this conversation until the toasting starts, the king makes several speeches and each time a toast is raised in his name “TO THE KING”, I am lucky enough to be sat next to him and he speaks kindly to me, eventually all this tasting makes our cups run dry and im asked to pass a goblet to his majesty, I do with much pomp and ceremony, our group again tittering – this stops as the king takes a swig, begins to choke and convulse before falling over dead. Immediately Baron Layfayette (I remember killing him in the game) names me as an assassin and calls for the guards…we sit there stunned only to be rescued by an agent of a Witcher, he bustles us downstairs back to the tavern where we started and instructs us to find out who knows the location of where the elves are hidden –surely they are the real assassins?
Working the floor in a manner not to dissimilar to the crew of Ocean’s 11 we – actually no – we were awful, we blundered from encounter to encounter, our fully ‘in character’ counterparts were gracious enough to adapt to our inability to quiz them properly. We lost to the strong man despite one of our party wagering a night of passion with his wife, we blundered through a conversation with a man and his toad, finally we happened across to gamblers ‘who revealed they had a lead, but due to differing politics would only tell us what they knew if we beat them at a dice game. As my companions gambled it out I concerned myself with my own quest – gathering herbs for a pouch the Witcher’s assistant had handed me – I had a feeling id be needing them. My companions won their game but the gamblers argued over who they should side with, one wanted peace with the elves, the others wanted them dead – we sided with him because he had a nice hat on.
They sent us out into the world with their squire, as we left the tavern I grabbed a handful of herbs off the registration table – I wasn’t sure if these were the ones I needed – but they would do. Being led through Hoxton Square by a boy who insisted on calling us Sire was unnerving, even more so when he drew a dagger to assure us we were in no danger….we were carrying herbs and a dagger, we were in Shoreditch for sure. The general public looked bemused but there was no time to lighten the mood, we had been framed for regicide. We arrived at the leafy Shoreditch Tennis courts and it’s there we first sighted the elves, our guide turned tail and fled (the coward) and we gingerly approached these heavily armed guardians of the forest, only to be flanked by more who were hiding in the bushes, I was manhandled and my companions were left to negotiate with their leader. He demanded to know our business (we were supposed to kill him) but we conveniently forgot, instead telling him he was being framed for assassinating the king. He handed us a note written in elvish…and with the rain pouring down we had to use an app that deciphered what it said…I was right…it WAS Baron Lafayette behind this! (go me).
Now led back through the square by an elven guide we were instructed to visit the “Prague inn” and he left us to our fates…standing there in the rain we looked around unsure of where to go next, darting from door way to door way we came across the Prague Bar, meh close enough. Opening the door to a seemingly normal bar an unimpressed bar maid scowled at our camera, a man in a business suit looked up from his cappuccino. We sheepishly stepped in and I was about to pluck up the courage to quiz our grumpy barmaid when a serving wench stepped out from a doorway (phew).
She led us down the stairs in the pitch black (ambush?) finally emerging to the sight to Lady Lafayette getting ready to take a bath. She alluringly suggested that we join her and began to disrobe, blushing we refused and she became furious, she demanded that we bowed before her and beg forgiveness; that her husband would be sure to have us executed. Things were becoming increasingly awkward – when thankfully a Witcher stepped from the shadows to intervene, he had the good Lady Lafayette restrained and asked us if we had a pouch of herbs (well lookey here – I did). With it he crafted a potion that lifted a Hex from Lady Lafayette (which made her put her clothes back on)…and from then the end game was revealed. We were to travel with a final confrontation with a rogue Witcher. Who could only be defeated with a stab from a silver dagger.
We travelled back to where we started, taking a b-line to the roof where our foe awaited us, we were handed swords (some members doubled up) whilst I was chosen to wield the dagger. Our imposing nemesis awaited us, taunting us (and handily recapping what we had done). Battle was inevitable…and when it started it was brutal, this guy was pulling no punches. I let my colleagues close in for the kill – only to see them beaten back but this only made our foe get increasingly cocky, he dropped his guard – just long enough for me to plunge the silver dagger between his shoulders.
He stumbled forward onto his knees and we stabbed at him with the fury only games journalists can muster. Standing over his corpse we contemplated stealing his boots, instead a pre-recording from the (new) king chimed in and we huddled around our phone to see what consequences our actions had been (turns out we had brokered a peace and saved the day). All that was left was to strut back downstairs to the tavern and gloat about our glorious quest.