How The Witcher TV Show Differs From Video Games & Books
It’s safe to assume that when Andrzej Sapkowski published the first story portraying the life and adventures of Geralt of Rivia, the Polish author had no idea what an immense success his creation was about to become. Following the string of short stories and books, CD Projekt Red studio unleashed the video game that rapidly took over the world as one of the most popular RPG series, culminating with the last addition “The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt” taking home every notable gaming award.
When Netflix announced the launch of The Witcher TV series, it was clear that Sapkowski’s creative effort has reached its peak. Having your books turned into an award-winning video game and a popular TV show is a recognition of the value that only the best fantasy authors can hope for. However, how much of the original book content is described through Netflix’s TV series and how does that compare to what we know about The Witcher saga based on video games series? That’s what we’re going to see in this article as we compare different types of content based on the same narrative.
What happens to the characters?
The protagonist, Geralt of Rivia is the same guy you’ve met if you ever played The Witcher video game or read any of the books about the events on the Continent. Nevertheless, the TV show introduces us to the Bucher of Blaviken as he earns the title, whilst in the first instalment of the RPG trilogy, he is somewhat older and was widely known for the events depicted in the first episode of the show.
Furthermore, the wide array of spells that Geralt could cast in video games is not even hinted in the TV show. We didn’t see the Witcher casting Axii, one of the most popular charms in the video games. However, since we’ve seen the use of Aard spell in the TV series, it’s pretty clear that the series developers decided to start with the simple spells so we can hope to see some more powerful spell casting in the future.
Besides, there’s the question of the scar, which is a trademark of the Witcher series game character. We can only hope that we’ll get the chance to witness the moment Geralt earns his battle mark. Also, the video game fans were surprised to see their hero carrying a single sword on his back. This is where Netflix decided to go with the books, where Geralt wields only one sword, while the other stays with the Roach (Geralt’s horse) until there’s a need for the second blade.
If you’re wondering what happened to Dandelion in the TV series, you probably didn’t look too closely, or you failed to grasp the essence of this character. Julian Pankratz plays Jaskier, who is the same character as Dandelion, only younger, just like his Witcher companion. What’s interesting about this name change is that Jaskier is the original character’s name from the books in the Polish language and it means “Buttercup”.
Where did all the monsters go?
When we explore the world of the Witcher Geralt of Rivia through award-winning RPG trilogy, there are more monsters and the world is densely populated. However, the novels, as well as the Netflix show depict a world in which monsters and Witchers are all but vanished, thus leaving more room for drama and storytelling.
It’s expected to see fewer monsters and fights in the TV show compared to the action-packed gaming series. Game developers need a way to engage the players, and nothing is as engaging as a good old fight against different monsters and foes.
The absence of monsters and the people’s scepticism to the Witcher’s suggestions that particular monsters could be responsible for trouble are there to show us that the world of Witchers and different monsters is all but perished. Perhaps in season two, we should expect to see a vast, obscure monsters’ community and the TV show becomes a bit more like the video game in that sense.
Moreover, unlike the books, where Gerald is eager to converse, vocally express his thoughts, and generally speak a lot; the TV show makes the Witcher more of a listener. It’s safe to say that the Netflix series hero is more open for communication through gestures and swordfight. This makes him much more similar to video game character, which fans seem to appreciate.
The absence of the love triangle
During the first two instalments of the Witcher video game series, Triss Merigold is an important part of Gerald’s love life. In the third game, Yennefer shows up and there’s a time when many of us wished we decided for one of them, instead of trying for double or nothing.
In the Netflix series, it appears, there’s no time for lovers’ drama, Yennefer is with Gerald, and Triss’ character is not even hinted as a potential third wheel. The reason for this is probably the shortage of time to introduce a love triangle when there’s so much more to experience.
The absence of emotional struggle between these characters reminds me of those times when I want to write my research proposal, but the topic is so wide I end up cutting down a dozen authors. In this case, producers took a similar step to ensure a consistent narrative.
Another interesting point regarding the romantic relationship between Geralt and Yennefer is how these two begin their love adventure. In the video game, you get a side mission that puts the couple on a hunt for the Djinn to break the binding curse that brought them together.
Books and the TV show are on the same page when it comes to how these two became love partners. The series, as well as the Sapkowski’s original narrative, show Geralt saving the girl with the help of a Djinn, however, we don’t know what the powerful Witcher whispered to the Djinn.
Unlike the video games, that represent the developers’ view on the realm created by Andrzej Sapkowski, Netflix decided to include the writer as a creative consultant, therefore the show is much closer to the books than it is to video games. Some supporting characters are blended into one, others are not included in the first season of the show.
What’s important is that the TV show will keep you interested and won’t let you down, no matter if you’re a video game or books fan. It’s more likely that after watching the show, you’ll feel more intrigued about the world depicted in books and popular video games trilogy.
‘The Witcher‘ Season 1 can be watched on Netflix right now. Season 2 returns to filming on 17th August 2020 following the pandemic shutdown, and is expected to air in 2021.
Michael Turner is a writer and editor, engaged with a series of online publishers. Michael loves games, fiction and he is a fan of The Witcher books. He is a specialist in Western Literature.