Another week, another announcement of a major video game remake. We seem to be in the midst of a sort of remake renaissance, this time with The Witcher being set to get a fresh coat of paint from CD Projekt Red and developer Fool’s Theory. But while many of the recently released and revealed remakes tend to be met with their fair share of skepticism, it feels like the original Witcher game is the exact sort of project that makes sense to be rebuilt and released for new audiences.
There’s no doubting that The Witcher has grown into an absolutely massive franchise. The Witcher 3 surpassed 40 million copies sold earlier this year, which makes it one of the 20 bestselling games ever. Along with this, Cyberpunk 2077 has turned the corner on the heels of the wonderful Edgerunners anime, with the ambitious RPG finally starting to live up to its promises of two years ago. And the recent announcement of no fewer than eight upcoming games showed that CD Projekt’s future is as bright as it is (there’s that word again) ambitious.
It turns out one of those games is the aforementioned remake of the original Witcher. For as big as the franchise has become, the original game still remains a bit of an unplayed oddity for a majority of its fans. It was released on PC back in 2007, and other than an Enhanced Edition / Director’s Cut a few years later, it never really grew outside of that. Plans for console ports to PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 were scrapped, and the team would end up turning its attention to 2011’s The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings.
Not only is the original Witcher locked away on a single platform, but the game remains a pretty janky first RPG for the Polish studio. Despite some rough edges, most fans agree that the second game remains enjoyable thanks to its ambitious ideas and fleshed-out world, but the same can’t be said for the 2007 original. And that’s why revisiting it now as a remake makes so much sense on paper. If CD Projekt and Fool’s Theory take the original game’s story — which still holds up — add the mechanical and combat enhancements of The Witcher 3, and update it visually in Unreal Engine 5, it could be a massive hit.
That said, I’m infinitely curious as to how the remake will handle certain elements like the “romance cards,” where the player earns a different collectible card featuring a nude portrait of a character after Geralt has sex with them. Removing this pretty weird feature from 15 years ago seems like an easy and wise move, and I’m sure no corners of the internet would be deeply upset by it and start some kind of weird online petition to boycott the game.
While The Witcher seems like it makes total sense for a remake, the case for a lot of other recent and upcoming games isn’t as clear. Last week’s announcement of a Silent Hill 2 remake from Bloober Team was met with a lot of skepticism, and deservedly so given the developer’s pedigree and the tone of the original game. The same goes for next year’s Resident Evil 4 and Dead Space remakes, although I’m really excited for those two based on how great they’ve looked so far in previews and trailers.
Personally, I’m totally fine with anything being remade, just so long as the original is still easily available to purchase and play across other platforms. Resident Evil 4 and Dead Space are perfect examples of this, with Capcom’s classic being on nearly every console under the sun and Dead Space being available as a part of Game Pass Ultimate. That said, Silent Hill 2 is a different case, as the original game is pretty hard to come by save for the crummy HD Collection.
And then we have The Last of Us Part I, which still seems to have a lot of folks confused about why it exists in the first place. When reports about a remake first started making the rounds last year, I wrote about how it kind of made sense for Sony to spruce up the 2013 classic on PlayStation 5 in anticipation of the upcoming HBO series. I’m not saying I was clamoring for the remake of a game that already had a great PlayStation 4 remaster, but I at least understood why Sony viewed it as a smart move.
While there are a lot of folks who gag whenever they hear the word “remake,” the fact of the matter is a lot of the recent ones we’ve gotten have turned out pretty incredible. I loved testing out my new PS5 by making my way back through Boletaria in Bluepoint’s Demon’s Souls. Capcom absolutely nailed the Resident Evil 2 remake, The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening on Switch delivered a charming little living diorama, and Shadow of the Colossus on PS4 made an incredible game so much more playable. And that’s not even mentioning ambitious projects like the Final Fantasy VII Remake trilogy, which is focused more on deconstruction than reconstruction. These games are a wonderful way for people like me to re-experience classics, while also providing a great entry point for an entirely new generation.
The Witcher news got me thinking of other games that have been left behind to time and deserve the remake treatment. The Dreamcast was packed with forgotten gems like Skies of Arcadia, Jet Set Radio, and Power Stone that would hold up remarkably well today, especially with some quality-of-life tweaks. And with Square Enix seemingly releasing a handful of remakes and remasters every year, it feels like Chrono Trigger, Xenogears, and Parasite Eve are about set to have their time in the sun. Likewise, Capcom is sitting on quite a few games and franchises that could use a defibrillator, like Dino Crisis and Mega Man Legends.
Regardless of what you think about remakes on a philosophical level, I feel like The Witcher makes perfect sense and is going to sell incredibly well. Given how immensely popular the franchise has become, this will be a chance for millions of people to experience Geralt’s inaugural game for the first time, and it’ll provide a nice appetizer for fans before CD Projekt Red embarks on the next major trilogy in the series.