The Witcher 3 tasks you with hunting dragons, a doppler who takes the shape of Geralt, and nightwraiths who must be awkwardly crammed into Yrden circles. But it’s the quest where you have to rescue a goat that sums up what The Witcher 3 is all about more than anything else. Completing A Princess in Distress is required if you want to find the Baron’s daughter and wife, who you need so you can find Ciri in turn. But to find the Baron’s daughter and wife so you can find Ciri, you first have to find the Pellar’s goat.
You’re given a bell to ring and sent out into the fields which are, expectedly, full of wolves. Like any quest about tracking, you have to suss out the red-marked clues, leading to a trail that ends with an annoying goat who is easily distracted by strawberries. Escort missions in any game are a pain, whether you’re literally escorting someone as with Ashley in Resident Evil 4, or if you’re simply tailing them from behind like with the many targets in Assassin’s Creed. A Princess in Distress is no different—this goat is a pain in the arse to lead back to the Pellar’s hut, but that’s the point.
Geralt, like we do, gets more and more frustrated as the quest goes on. He asks if he really has to keep ringing this bell to keep the goat’s attention which, annoyingly, you do, and when the goat decides to wander into danger (read: a big fucking bear), Geralt remarks, “Bear! Bear! Run you stupid piece of shit!” After you kill it, you’re back to leading a goat by the horns, all so the Pellar can milk it and throw said milk all over the floor for his ritual. Nowhere is Geralt more typically himself than when he mutters annoyance under his breath as he embarrassingly drags a goat back to its pen for an old man living alone in the woods, all so he can tie up a loose end for someone he barely likes or knows. I couldn’t help but laugh at what Vesemir would say if he saw Geralt doing all of this.
The whole game is about tracking people (or in this case, goats) down, with Geralt constantly put into ludicrous situations far below his capabilities—just look at him playing hide and seek in a swamp with a bunch of random kids. This is the same man who fought off the Wild Hunt in his very first game. No matter what the stakes are and how far Geralt has come, he’s always going back to basics and doing these silly little tasks just to placate other people. And more often than not, these people throw themselves headfirst into danger and make things worse than they need to be, like the little goat deciding to wander up to a bear’s den (or Yennefer roping Geralt into meeting and helping the Nilfgaardian emperor).
A Princess in Distress is short but sweet, and it’s the quest I remember most of all whenever I look back on The Witcher 3. That’s because it’s reflective of the entire game, capturing what makes it so special—Geralt is kind, willing to do anything to save the people he loves, and has a dry sense of humour that makes even the most mundane tasks fun to play. The Witcher 3 might be the story of a grand adventure across the continent to find Ciri before the Wild Hunt does, but it wouldn’t be the same without ringing the little bell to stop Princess from chomping on strawberries.
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