My Issues With Relationships Ruined A Witcher 3 Playthrough

Last year, I cheated in a relationship that was honestly the best I've ever had. This is a pattern in my life, a problem that, for a long time, I refused to acknowledge. It's even extended to video games like The Witcher 3.

It all started with me beginning to wonder the same thing I always do: "Is the relationship I'm in now the right one? Maybe I'm making a mistake." From there, I managed to clumsily demolish a really solid foundation I'd spent nearly a year constructing with another person. I started talking to (and eventually flirting with) another person I found interesting. Instead of communicating with my girlfriend and working on our issues, I grew emotionally close to someone else. I made my girlfriend miserable with worry and myself sick with anxiety. I never cheated on her physically, and I won't go too much further into the nitty gritty of it, but when it ended, it ended bad. And I absolutely deserved every bit of it.

It wasn't the first time I've done this. And it wasn't the first time I blamed the other person, or the situation, or us "growing apart" for the doubts and anxiety that led to my bad decisions. I justified when I should have analysed. I didn't see this pattern until recently, or the way it came out of my own insecurities about relationships, even in video games.

Which brings us to The Witcher 3 and the ridiculous things I did when doubt about my choices crept in. When I first started playing it back in 2015, I went through an entire romance arc with Triss Merigold, Geralt's main magical ladyfriend of the previous two Witcher games, up to the moment she was about to sail away into the cold night with a veritable Hogwarts-load of mages we'd rescued. It was a bittersweet moment; Geralt and Triss had a good run despite some big bumps in the road. A dialogue prompt popped up just as Triss turned to leave. "I love you," I made Geralt say. Triss stopped. She turned. She came back.

And then they fucked in a lighthouse, because this is The Witcher.

Triss still departed shortly after, but it was less of a dramatic, windswept "farewell forever" and more of a "see you later, [insert sexy wink here]." It was a fitting goodbye, and it felt nice.

Later, after I'd made another 15 hours of progress in the game, Kotaku's own Kirk Hamilton informed me of a fact that gave me pause: by telling Triss I loved her, I'd committed to that romance. While The Witcher 3 generally allows you to role-play renowned casual sex-haver Geralt of Rivia, there are actually two romances with Consequences. There's Triss, who I just talked about, and Yennefer, Geralt's lover from before The Witcher games even began. Yennefer didn't actually appear in either of the previous Witcher games, so I didn't know her. She was new to me. I realised, however, that I'd already cut off a possible GeraltxYen ending, as well as other developments in their relationship.

At that point, I stopped playing the game for months. I fretted and sulked. Had I made the wrong choice? The more I heard about the sort of character Yennefer was, the more I wished I'd gone with her instead. The whole thing hung over my playthrough like a Cupid arrow tipped with poison.

Finally, I made up my mind: I would reload a save from around 20 hours before (the closest one I still had) and redo the entire Triss thing, as well as countless quests and hunts surrounding it. I would redo 20 hours of a game I still remembered too well for it to be fun again, all to alter a single decision and open up a different romantic opportunity.

And I'd do all of this instead of just playing through the rest of the game and seeing what happened with Triss, accepting my choice and making the best of a good — not bad — situation. All because I couldn't stop wondering, "Is the grass greener on the other side?" (And no, I couldn't just watch this stuff on YouTube, because it had to be my Geralt.)

Many more hours of play later, I got to the Yennefer romance, and it was… pretty good. They had sex on a unicorn and beat up a genie to unbind their fates and see if their love was true. Also Yennefer took full blame for a heinous crime that Geralt kinda participated in — that was still mostly Yen's fault, mind — and it was sweet in that way where you're like, "This person is definitely a sociopath, but she means well!"

And yet. And yet.

I couldn't stop thinking back to this one part in The Witcher 2 where Geralt and Triss got trapped in some elven ruins and decided that, since they were stuck down there and surrounded by romantic roses (lol), they might as well dive into a pool and have sex. The setup for the scene is pretty goofy, but the actual moment is great. The way Geralt practically trips out of his pants when he realises Triss is into the idea is hilarious, and the scene unfolds in this really cute, heartfelt way.

It's not earth-shakingly dramatic or anything, but the best parts of relationships rarely are. The best times, I think, come when you can be silly with each other, when you can make a place feel like your own little world no matter where in the world you are.

Yennefer's arc was dramatic and sexy, but once again, I began picking at that ugly old sore: "Is the relationship I'm in now the right one? Maybe I'm making a mistake." All that grief, and I still failed to resolve anything.

Recently, I bit the bullet and finally started seeing a therapist. My therapist and I have been examining the underpinnings of these bad habits, of my anxiety about choices, especially when relationships are involved, and the ways I constantly sabotage myself and other people. We're only just getting started, but it feels good to actually confront this instead of chalking it up to Another One That Just Didn't Work Out.

It's also gotten me thinking, and in hindsight I realise that, yep, my ridiculous and ultimately fruitless indecision in The Witcher 3 came from the same place as my real-life relationship issues.

In my most recent real-life relationship, I found something good, supportive, and comfortable. Ideal, honestly. But then I let myself get drawn in by something that seemed dramatic and exciting. The person in question wasn't bad, but the way I went about doing everything was, and ultimately, I made myself and other people miserable.

Other people weren't the problem. It was me and this thing I keep doing, this toxic tendency that will ruin any relationship I'm in, no matter how good, and hurt people in the process. I really wish I'd realised that sooner. It would have saved me and other people a lot of time and grief. Also, I could've beaten, like, a lot of video games that weren't The Witcher 3.


Comments

    Triss is better than Yennefer anyway.

      You fickle bastard. YEN OTP.

        Having never played 1 or 2 and not knowing the history of the characters, to me it came down to miss goody two-shoes vs the saucy wench.

        I hope they cleaned that unicorn afterwards.

          Triss was only being all goody two-shoes in 3 because she was all contrite over getting sprung for what she did in 1 and 2... which was basically steal her 'best friend's' amnesiac boyfriend by letting him believe they were together.

            Right?! Seriously. I mean, I'll admit I still felt pretty darn terrible seeing Triss' face when you don't kiss her at the party, but what she did in TW1 and 2 was still super manipulative.

            But it's okay, because that was totally made up for by OH MY GOD YEN'S FACE AT THE END OF THE LAST WISH IF YOU SAY YOU STILL LOVE HER. *squees like a schoolgirl*

            Last edited 15/02/17 5:15 pm

              For all her brusque demeanour, at the end of it all she's just a girl, standing in front of a boy...

                Would you say he's just a boy, and she's just a girl, can you make it any more obvious?

                ...I'll see myself out.

            Yeah, that's ultimately the reason why I opted to follow Yennefer's romance path instead of Triss'. While Triss was the "main" love interest in the first two games (though I chose Shani in the first game), she got there by manipulating Geralt while he had amnesia and was struggling to recover is memory. When I let her sail away on the boat, the look she gave really was a look of disappointment, but to me Geralt belonged with Yen. It was a bit disheartening when Yen actually partly blamed Geralt for the affair with Triss though, but it didn't seem to hurt their relationship any.

            Last edited 15/02/17 6:22 pm

              Its true, Geralt is supposed to be with Yen.

              Now that doesn't mean Triss is the wrong choice, we can all agree they didn't skip on rewarding the choices of the players who wanted to pick Triss, it was just as deep.

              But overall the narrative seems more about the relationship between Yen and Geralt.
              We begin chasing her, reminded of the better times, the inescapable aspects of her allure.
              When you finally meet, parental bonds and torn apart again.

              Keira, delivered straight after.
              Seems safe, but she is built on secrecy and your first interaction is temptation. (Bath)

              When you meet Triss, she is delivered as a surprise (though an obvious one)
              She is a curve ball in a sense.

              Then your back to Yen and so on and so on, I'm going to leave it there lol.

              Anyway, it's a great game, I still wanna do a Triss run at some point.
              I was still able to say I loved her in a natural sense and have my Yen ending though.

              Last edited 16/02/17 12:00 am

      Nah, Yen4life. Best mumma and pappa bears for Ciri.
      Also I could never really look at the Triss romance the same way after reading the books and knowing that she knows about Geralt and Yen's relationship and just never brings it up while she flirts with the double amnesiac.

        Hey man, love conquers all. Triss saw her opportunity and took it. It's not like she was just toying with Geralt. He's all things to all women, after all :-)

        Does it say in the books why every other single one of Geralt's friends, acquaintances and, pretty much anybody else, never tells Geralt at any time that, you know, he basically has a wife and daughter somewhere?

        The games never seem to address this. If you say that Triss is manipulative, then surely all of the people Geralt actually cares about was in on it too.

    All that time I wasted with Shani in the original...

      And then they tease you with Hearts of Stone all over again...
      Really bummed me out when 2 starts of with "and it didn't work out with Shani, oh well" and then you're in bed with Triss

    I was always team Yen but yeah I told Triss I loved her too. to be fair though, in most games relationships don't work like real life so imagine my surprise when they were angry at me for loving both of them! I mean, jeez I'm a Witcher and known for making love to everybody. Nobody complained in Mass Effect when I was making love to everybody, possibly because I was commander...In all serious though, don't over think game choices too much as they are a means of escape (though 100+ hours invested in Witcherland's story can make it tough)

      I don't know about you but Miranda and Jack had a tizz about me in ME2. Come to think of it, I believe Liara and Ash fought over me too (kind of). Also, Tali made some comment about Ash in ME3... Women are a jealous bunch ;-)

        oh yeah there were a few people upset but most seemed content that I was sleeping around. I can't remember if it was 2 or 3 but one of them I slept with at least 4 characters I think. my commander Shephard inspired his troops...with love

        I seem to recall that Shep spent her supposed-to-be-sexy-time prior to the suicide mission staring at a photo of Kaidan.

          Bahahahaha... Yeah, I did that once with Liara in ME2 I seem to recall. Shadow Broker made up for it though.

      Ha! It caught a few people, some weren't happy about it.
      They even teased the possible threesome before release, spurning many to chase it.

      I have to say though, the relationship dynamic was complex and delivered beautifully.
      I got the impression early on that something might be up, for some reason it didn't seem like a good idea to bed Keira just because I could.
      I was able to tell Triss I still loved her and still walk away, was pretty hard, another testament to the excellent story.
      (Red Baron mission haunts me still)

    Okay, I'm doubly going to make sure that I choose the right woman. Reading the books now, but also played the first two (and regretted choosing Triss over Shani), I think I'm more in line with Yennefer but we'll see.

    Good read, Nathan, and best of luck overcoming your issues.

    Don't you dare think about second guessing the Yen choice. Yen is bae, anyone that suggests otherwise is an uncultured swine.

    EDIT: I really didn't think I had to point out this was hyperbole, I'm not actually calling you uncultured swine. Unless you really did downvote me just because I prefer Yen, in which case I am right and you are wrong.

    Last edited 15/02/17 6:02 pm

    I don't have anything interesting to add about the witcher (sadly) but I think my boyfriend is doing the same to me with a girl he works with and as soon as I read this headline I thought of him. In my case, she texts him late just to tell him how much she values his friendship, tells him she only goes to things to see/talk to him and calls him amazing etc etc. he isn't stopping it in any way :(
    On the plus side, at least being on this side of the situation won't fuck with my playthrough!!

      Yeah, you need to say something to him that it makes you uncomfortable, and mention that if the roles were reversed, he would be fairly pissed. Unfortunately, you can't stop someone from cheating - I learnt the hard way, it just made things worse and there ended up being more girls than the one. Also, some guys are gullible - but if he seems like he is flirting back, then you definitely need to say something. If he was 100% serious about you, he would listen and understand and tell this other bird to back off, etc. However, if he starts getting defensive, sorry to say, but it's too late... :(
      PS #TeamYen

    Both Tris and Yen are great partners. There's no wrong choice there.

    Here's my take on it (based solely on the Witcher games): Yen, despite constantly challenging Geralt, accepts and appreciates him for who he is. Between them it usually falls to Geralt to be the voice of reason or moderation. Triss, despite supporting Geralt across everything, believes that he's a better man than he thinks he is and wants him to see that he could have more out of life. Between them it usually falls to Geralt to be forthright and aggressive to stop others taking advantage of her good nature. Which one you prefer says more about you as a person than anything else.

    "Yennefer didn't actually appear in either of the previous Witcher games"

    Yennefer was in the first game.

    And in life there is no reload save state button. We all must make our choices and stand by them.

    Last edited 15/02/17 11:21 pm

      No she wasn't. Yennefer didn't appear at all in the first game, although was mentioned in conversation a number of times. In the second game, she appears in some flashbacks and is again the subject of a number of conversations.

      You could be forgiven for overlooking her in the first game I guess, but I can't see how you can play through Witcher 2 and not know who she is.

      Last edited 15/02/17 11:50 pm

    "The Witcher 3" was a really great piece of psycho-analysis. I went with Yennefer (because I read the books and I just love her), but the situations that crept up and the conversations that were had really had me thinking about how I approach relationships. It was eye opening.

    What really got to me, however, was the relationship with Ciri. The father-daughter thing was something that I had no preconceived notions about and I just assumed that Ciri would be the daughter no matter what, and in the end I made a lot of poor decisions that impacted her and actually ended up hurting me a great deal. When the credits rolled I felt like a monster. How dare I treat Ciri like a daughter, not as a human being, with her own motivations and feelings. It really opened my eyes to a lot of things. Also I am so glad I don't have kids. Holy crap.

    This story really resonated with me. I did something similar in my own relationship and the anxiety of making a choice between Yen and Triss was pretty great. What if I made the wrong choice? How would I know who is my real love? What if there is someone better and I'm confining myself to by staying in this relationship?

    Good read.

    Wow that was a surprisingly honest article. Kudos to the author for putting it all out there

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