Footage of an unfinished Witcher game surfaces after 20 years

Over the last decade, CD Projekt Red’s adaptation of a series of novels popular in Eastern Europe became one of the biggest franchises in all of gaming. Now, footage of an earlier attempt to bring The Witcher series to life as a video game has been released to the internet.

It’s been known for some time that a studio called Metropolis Software worked on a game based on The Witcher books in the 1990s, as detailed in a 2014 interview with Eurogamer. The team was led by Adrian Chmielarz, the Polish designer now known for titles like Bulletstorm and The Vanishing of Ethan Carter.

Chmielarz, like many of his compatriots, loved the novels written by Andrzej Sapkowski. As a frequent attendee of sci-fi conventions throughout his youth, he had the opportunity to meet the author and strike up a friendship. Some time later, he would write him a letter asking for permission to produce a game based on his stories.

Apparently, it was Chmielarz who came up with the translation of the title held by Geralt of Rivia, years before CD Projekt Red. He claims that he suggests ‘Witcher’ as a stand-in for ‘Wiedźmin’ during his early communications with Sapkowski.

In the end, the game didn’t come to fruition but a playable first chapter was completed before the project was shelved. Now, footage of that section has been shared online as part of an interview conducted in Polish by Arhn.eu.

Obviously, based on the time that it was created, the game looks quite different to the version of The Witcher that was released in 2007. However, it would apparently have possessed some similarities, like a heavy emphasis on “adult” storylines and a basis in role-playing mechanics.

“Things like moral choices or hard choices or slightly darker storytelling — it wasn’t common,” Chmielarz told Eurogamer. “But that was the goal and it was all because of the quality of the source material — it inspired us to do something very special.”

If this version of The Witcher had been finished, we may never have seen CD Projekt Red’s take, which would have denied gamers of some of the best RPG experiences of the last few years. Still, it’s fascinating to see what could have been if things had played out differently.

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