The Untold Story: A Different Team’s Attempt at The Witcher Video Game Adaptation

A Different Team’s Attempt at The Witcher Video Game Adaptation

The Witcher has become a popular franchise consisting of books, a series, and most notably, video games! Between 2007 and 2015, the adventures of Geralt De Riv captivated the media and gamers, with the third installment – Wild Hunt – often hailed as one of the greatest RPGs of all time. Behind this success is CD Projekt, a studio based in Poland, where Andrzej Sapkowski imagined the world of the witcher. But did you know that another team was initially responsible for the video game adaptation?

A Letter? A Game!

In 1997, ten years before CD Projekt entered the picture, it was Metropolis Software that embarked on the production of the first Witcher title. Although you may not be familiar with the studio, it was a small company comprised of 20 people that had achieved moderate success in Poland and some European countries. They were responsible for titles like “Teen Agent” in 1994, a point-and-click adventure game about a teenager aspiring to be a secret agent, and “Katharsis” in 1997, a futuristic shooter partially published by CD Projekt.

In the same year, Metropolis Software began its adaptation of The Witcher, aiming to contribute to the growing popularity of Andrzej Sapkowski’s work in Poland. Co-founder Adrian Chmielarz took a direct approach by writing a letter to the author and acquired the rights after a meeting at a convention. The studio envisioned creating a “3D action-adventure game” that allowed players to make choices within the storyline and incorporated RPG elements to enhance the abilities of the protagonist, Geralt de Riv. Despite not receiving extensive promotion at the time, some images from the game were featured in a Polish video game magazine dated 1997, showcasing the team’s design reminiscent of the PlayStation 1 era with a touch of Resident Evil’s atmosphere.

“Drowned in Between”

Metropolis Software’s Witcher game was quite innovative for the 90s, featuring a mature story uncommon in the industry at that time. According to Adrian Chmielarz, the choices offered in the game’s moral and slightly darker storytelling were ahead of their time. The game also introduced avant-garde elements such as dynamic camera angles and non-static 3D levels, as described by developer Kacper Reutt. A rare video showcased Geralt de Riv in a purple outfit traversing through different rooms.

However, despite completing the first chapter, the game was never finished. Jarek Sobierski, another designer from Metropolis Software, recalls that the project was put on hold due to the need for additional development time. The studio’s priorities shifted to other projects, and The Witcher got lost in the shuffle. Moreover, doubts from publisher TopWare regarding the game’s potential international success contributed to its cancellation.

A few years later, CD Projekt acquired the rights to Andrzej Sapkowski’s work, transforming it into the franchise we know today. Adrian Chmielarz, while envious of CD Projekt’s success, expressed happiness that things turned out the way they did. In 2008, a year after The Witcher’s release, CD Projekt acquired Metropolis Software. Meanwhile, Grzegorz Miechowski, Metropolis Software’s other co-founder, and former colleagues went on to establish “11 bit” – a company that is now well-known for the Frostpunk franchise.

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