The Witcher is based on the fantasy series of the same name by the Polish author Andrzej Sapkowski, but the majority of fans in the West, including Brazil, Geralt of Rivia in a different way: playing video games. Developer's Witcher trilogy CD Projekt Red, is one of the most popular RPG series of all time, especially the final, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, which won several Game of the Year awards.
But the new Netflix series is not based on games, which Sapkowski calls “free adaptation… written by other authors”. Like the games themselves, it relies directly on books. In addition, although Sapkowski has little to do with the digital recreation of the continent of CD Projekt Red, the author is a creative consultant to the program and worked directly with showrunner Lauren Schmidt Hissrich to bring The Witcher to the small screen.
But don’t worry, Geralt is still Geralt, and if you like Witcher games, you’ll also love the series Netflix. This is not already checked. Still, if you fell in love with Ciri, Yennefer, Triss and all the rest of the characters in your Xbox, PlayStation, PC or Nintendo Switch, there are some surprises ahead. Here are some of the differences between the Witcher games and the TV show (with spoilers – be careful) so you can go prepared.
Remembering that the valid will always be the books and not the games. So, before saying that everything is wrong, remember this, as games have also been adapted from tales and novels and the creator, as everyone knows, hates games.
One of the best characters in the CD Projekt Red games and Sapkowski's original novels is the elegant and womanizing bard Dandelion, who somehow manages to remain one of Geralt's closest friends, despite his penchant for trouble. Well, he is also fantastic on the Netflix show, although he has a different name.
Instead of Dandelion, in the series the character is called Jaskier. It sounds like a strange change, but it makes a lot of sense when you know why. Jaskier is actually the name of Dandelion in Polish, the language of the original novels, and translates as Buttercup.
In games, the name Dandelion fits pretty well — the bard is a dandy, so the pun works — but his flamboyant personality has been toned down for the show. Even so, Jaskier is still a rogue, and actor Joey Batey steals almost every scene, but he's not quite as flamboyant as the Dandelion of the games.
Furthermore, the Netflix program has a much more serious and grounded tone. A silly name like Dandelion would stand out as a 'thumb sore' in the English language.
7Bringing a little bit of diversity into the world of The Witcher
Witcher games are very, very 'white'. This makes sense as Sapkowski as well as CD Projekt Red are based in Poland, where over 97% of the population is white. When you're there, you just don't see a lot of people of other ethnicities.
But the continent is an invented place. It's fantasy. You don't have to stick to real-life demographics, and Netflix thought about that too. On the show, Yennefer is played by Anya Chalhotra, a British actress of Indian descent. Anna Shaffer plays Triss Merigold, who traditionally had pale skin and red hair. Fringilla is played by Mimi Ndiweni, who is black. A new character named Dara, played by Wilson Radjou-Pujalte, also has dark skin. The supporting cast and background actors are equally diverse. Everywhere you look, there is diversity.
The characters in The Witcher still act like the characters you know and love from games. They just look a little different. As Lauren Schmidt Hissrich explained, she wanted to cast the best actors for the parties, regardless of race. Not only that, but Hissrich says Sapkowski said that a more diverse cast honors their own intentions in writing the novel. If you want a definitive source, it can't get much better than having the endorsement of the creator himself. So, no complaints!
6To be or not to be… Geralt de Rivia
For many fans, Doug Cockle is Geralt of Rivia. The actor, who has appeared in Steven Spielberg's productions and Tom Hanks' WWII drama Band of Brothers, even in the 2019 Blair Witch game, has been playing The Witcher for a dozen years. He voiced Geralt in all three games on CD Projekt Red, as well as in the spin-off based on the card game Gwent and in cameos in Soulcalibur VI and Monster Hunter: World. Open one of Sapkowski's books and start reading. It is Cockle's voice that you will hear for sure.
The Witcher star Henry Cavill is in the same vibe. He is also a huge fan of games and loves Cockle's performance. However, while there are many similarities between Cavill's voice and Cockle's, they are not identical. On the one hand, Cavill is British, and he on the show speaks with his natural accent. His tone is also deeper than Cockle's, which Cavill describes as "more within whispering range."
Still, Cavill borrowed Cockle's “bass” style, which he blended with his own voice to create something new. Geralt de Cavill doesn't look the same as the game, but he still feels right. That's what really matter.
5Silver Sword, for what?
In games, Geralt carries two swords: the steel one for regular fights and the silver one for fighting monsters. On the show, that hasn't changed, but you won't see Geralt with two swords stuck to his back very often. Most of the time, Cavill carries only one sword at a time.
In case it pissed you off, know that this is a note that comes directly from the books, in which Geralt tends to leave his silver sword on his horse, Roach, unless it is a very special occasion. It is also a practical concern, according to The Witcher gunsmith, Nick Jeffries. Silver is a soft and fragile material, and it wouldn't do much good during battle, Jeffries said in an interview with Polygon. It is also expensive, and would attract bad guys. Geralt already has enough problems and doesn't need any more.
In fact, all weapons and costumes on the show are more grounded than games. What works in the digital world doesn't always work in live action. When costume designer Tim Aslam was instructed not to be inspired by the game, he replied, "'That's not going to happen because it actually looks a little tacky." Unlike the clothes seen in games, The Witcher's clothes are grounded and practical. They might not be as visually memorable, but they hold up much better in a fight.
4Game vs Series
The Witcher has a lot of backstory and, unlike games, it has to appeal to an audience that isn't always willing to buy a fantasy series. "You don't want to alienate people who have never heard of The Witcher," Hissrich told Looper. “In trying to explain what a Witcher was and all these new names and all these new places and things that seem unfamiliar…I wanted to make sure I was giving it in small doses.
So some of the characters you know from the games have been combined or given new roles. For example, the wizard Mousesack – or Ermion, as the game calls him – can be found in The Witcher 3, which takes place after the events of the TV series and books. He won't play a similar role on the show, as he was murdered midway through the first season.
Renfri, on the other hand, the cursed princess in the first episode of The Witcher, is only mentioned in the passage in the CD trilogy Projekt Red, but her story seems familiar to anyone who has played the first game: Deidre, the star of the Price expansion pack of Neutrality, is inspired by it. You're going to come across that sort of thing – familiar characters or personalities, but remixed in a way that makes them feel fresh or new.
3Time for a geography class
Andrzej Sapkowski is not JRR Tolkien. This is a fact, just as The Witcher is not the new Game of Thrones, which turns out to be an insult to book and game fans when they end up reading titles like “The Witcher the new Game of Thrones from Netflix. Back to the point, while the man who created Middle-earth said, "I began wisely with a map," Sapkowski never bothered to create a canonical guide for the continent. That hasn't stopped fans — and Sapkowski's editors — from trying to create their own, which the author claimed was more accurate but which he never officially endorsed.
As such, anyone working with The Witcher needs to sift through the text for clues and plan the continent's locations on their own. As you can imagine, the final products tend to differ. The map produced for the games works very well, but contains some inaccuracies when compared to the books. The map made for the Netflix show, on the other hand, looks like a mashup of the game's map and the one posted on the book's Polish website.
When you look to the north, especially close to Ciri's hometown, Cintra, the two maps combine very well. Further south, they begin to diverge. On the game map, the kingdoms around Nilfgaard curve inward. In the program, they protrude outward, forming a more irregular coastline. The Nilfgaardian region of Mag Turga is further north, in the program. The provinces of Gemmera and Etoloa are switched. Does it make a difference when you're watching? Not at all.
Triss Merigold is one of the first people you meet on CD Projekt Red's The Witcher, and is in the first two games as Geralt's main love interest. In The Witcher 3, when Geralt's love, Yennefer, finally appears, the game embraces a legitimate love triangle. Players have to choose which of the two witches they want Geralt to have a romance with. Both are strong characters. Just don't try to do this twice in the end, because you will regret it.
In case you pick Triss, – here's spoiler from the game – we have bad news: while Yennefer is an important character on the show, Triss is only a part, and she and Geralt don't have much chemistry. Of course they work great together and when Triss helps Geralt deal with the striga (another big change in Witcher lore), but as far as the Netflix series goes, Yennefer is Geralt's only love. Romantically, Triss isn't even an afterthought.
It's a shame to miss all this drama, but honestly, the Witcher is busy enough. A love triangle is a good way to end a 90-hour game, but the show has only eight episodes. There are more important things to spend that time on during the series.
1The Last Wish
If you're only familiar with Geralt and Yennefer's romance in The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, you probably think a Genius made them fall in love. After all, this is the main objective of the quest “The Last Wish”, which serves as a sequel to the Sapkowski tale of the same name. In the mission, Geralt and Yennefer hunt a Djinn (Genius) to undo the wish that united the two. When successful, you can either continue dating Yennefer or leave her. It's your decision.
The game implies that magic brought Geralt and Yennefer together. In the program, it's much more complicated. Episode five, "Bottled Appetites," shows Geralt and Yennefer's first encounter, and although it features Geralt ultimately saving Yennefer's life, the wish itself is ambiguous. As in the books, you don't hear exactly what Geralt wanted.
Furthermore, it is quite clear on the show that Geralt has feelings for Yennefer. The elf Chireadan says the same thing, and Henry Cavill's performance practically confirms it. In fact, the mutual attraction of Geralt and Yennefer is important to the plot. Geralt risks his life for Yennefer because he likes her, and Yennefer's seductive dialogue suggests that she feels the same way. The genie may seal the deal, but the sparks are already flying.