Originally Posted by Prime Junta
Yes… and no. You *can* actually play and win by simple timed clicking, especially at Normal or Easy difficulty. That gets tedious very fast, especially since some fights will take very long as you gradually whittle down the enemies while (successfully) avoiding damage. (GothicGothicness hated the combat for this reason.)
But you don't *have to.* If you explore the different combat styles, Signs, potions, oils, and bombs, combat becomes way more varied and way more effective, but also riskier. And a lot more fun. The key to the fun was (for me anyway) when I realized that most enemies have a weakness which leaves them momentarily incapacitated, at which point you can pull a finishing move to insta-kill them. To exploit the weakness, you have to know what you're facing, and how to cause it, using the right Sign, bomb, oil, or fighting technique for the occasion; there's no magic button that works for everything.
IMO the game is flawed in that it doesn't really push you very hard to do this exploration — if you don't bother reading the bestiaries and figuring out what Pain, Bleeding, Stun, Incineration etc. actually mean and what cause them, you'll just keep mindlessly hacking, and the game lets you get away with it. But them's the breaks.