Hearts of Stone (spoiler review)

The first expansion pack for the Witcher 3 took me 22.5 hours to finish the main story quests. I'm glad I waited a couple of months before playing it, since the next expansion "Blood & Wine" still has no release date. I'll definitely be preordering as soon as its available. The following review contains plot details and spoilers for the game.

This expansion is set in Oxenfurt, so you can start it pretty much as soon as you've unlocked that region of the map, either on your first play through or in "New Game Plus." However, I took the option of starting it after the end of the main story quest in the Witcher 3, "Something ends, something begins."

Olgeird von Everec and his band of merry men and women offer you a contract to kill a monster in Oxenfurt's sewers. The story ties in nicely with the Witcher 3 as well as the first game, as you reconnect with Shani the medic, who you last saw in Vizima. The monster is an Olfiri prince who turned into a toad, a nice reversal of the fairy tale, very much in the style of the short stories of Andrzej Sapkowski.

The Ofieri are not very happy with you for killing their prince. Geralt is captured and taken on board a ship bound for Ofier. However, somehow Gaunter O'Dimm is also aboard the same ship. This is the mysterious fellow that you first met in White Orchard, at the beginning of the game. He offers to free Geralt, in return for a favor. You really have no choice but to accept. Soon afterwards, the ship capsizes in a storm. Geralt has to fight an Ofieri wizard and his cohorts, then make his way to the crossroads for another encounter with Gaunter O'Dimm.

Together, you return to the von Everec estate. O'Dimm demands that you fulfill three of Olgeird's wishes, in return for "rescuing" you. These are the main story quests of the expansion. Olgeird asks you to give his brother Vlodimir the time of his life. Only one problem, however: Vlodimir is dead. Geralt and Shani travel to the von Everec family crypt so that Geralt can summon his spirit. In a comedic turn of events, Geralt is possessed by the randy Vlodimir, who insists on attending a wedding with Shani. Vlod/Ger dances, gets drunk, plays gwent, and even tries working a witcher contract. At the end of the night, Vlodimir is sent back to his grave, and Geralt and Shani spend some quality time together.
Parting is such sweet sorrow...
The other wish is to bring Olgeird the house of Maximillian Borsodi. You attend an auction with Vimme Vivaldi (of Vivaldi's Bank, which has featured in all 3 games). Before the auction, you meet with an old flame of Vesemir's and give her the sad news of his demise. After the first round of bidding, Horst Borsodi kicks you out. This is the start of a heist in the style of GTA V, as you must assemble your team to break back into the auction house.
Geralt, Eveline, Quinto & the Stranger
The last wish is always the kicker. In this case, Olgeird asks for the rose that he gave to his wife. The manor grounds are guarded by the Caretaker, a demon who puts up a very tough fight. His health regenerates whenever he does damage, and boy can he dish out a lot of damage. After winning this battle, you head upstairs for another difficult fight. This time you face a wraith who can regenerate health and teleport away using paintings. The usual trick of yrden doesn't work - you have to smash the paintings or set fire to them using igni. You step through a painting into the memories of Olgeird's wife. You learn that their marriage was doomed from the start, due to Olgeird's unholy pact with Gaunter O'Dimm, "Master Mirror." Finally, you have to decide whether to put the ghost of Iris von Everec (and her talking dog and cat) to rest.
The Tragical History of the Life and Death of Doctor Faustus
When you return to Oxenfurt, Shani has found someone who might know more about Olgeird and O'Dimm. Professor Shakeslock explains that "Master Mirror" is a very nasty piece of work indeed. It might be possible to beat him at his own game, but only by risking your soul. When O'Dimm comes to claim Olgeird's soul, you have the choice whether to stand aside or throw down the gauntlet. This is not an easy decision, since both of these fuckers have double-crossed you in their own way. In the end, I couldn't resist the challenge, so it was double or nothing.
Ever danced with the devil in the pale moonlight?


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