CD Projekt Red is best known for making The Witcher fantasy role-playing adventures, but it was not the first studio to attempt to conjure up a gaming adaptation of Geralt of Rivia. A new Polish documentary from gaming site ARHN.eu (which we found through Eurogamer) has provided new details about the first attempt to turn the novel series into a game.
In 1997, during the primitive early days of 3D graphics, Polish developer Metropolis purchased the rights and began working on a version of The Witcher that looked like Tekken, Bushido Blade, and other original PlayStation releases. ARHN’s film shows those visuals as well as early artwork and gameplay concepts.
In Metropolis’s The Witcher, players would explore a dangerous world as Geralt. The game’s producers, Adrian Chmielarz and Pawel Smyla, put most of their early efforts into figuring out how a game like that would work from a technical standpoint. In the documentary, Smyla explains that the company decided to make characters that looked similar to Tekken and environments similar to Resident Evil.
“The character looks, their proportions, as per Adrian Chimelarz’s suggestions, were based off of PlayStation era fighting games,” Smyla said in the documentary. “Tekken 1 [in particular], if I remember correctly. The fighters has this nice weight to them.”
Metropolis would then take those 3D characters and place them in front of pre-rendered static backgrounds.
“We had some nice-looking static 3D scenes for the time,” said Smyla.
The studio only ever figured out bits and pieces of how the rest of the game would work. Battles would have taken elements from the turn-based fights in Final Fantasy VII, and the story was a single-page outline. But Metropolis would never get around to fleshing any of that out. It ceased production on the ambitious project, and the rights to The Witcher shifted to their current home at CD Projekt Red.
Thanks to this documentary, we can take a fascinating look back on the history of The Witcher and some games that almost were.