I found it to be brutally unfair and unforgiving at first - the first fights the game thrust me in (the tower battle and ballista brawl), my ass was handed back to me on a platter on Normal at least a dozen times. Then I learned that I could - and was expected to - dodge attacks and circle enemies to stab them in the back. That I could drink potions to improve my chances, use Yrden and Axii for crowd control, use Quen to safely land risky attacks, and so on. Soon enough I found myself completing the prologue and the entire game on Hard, then completing it twice on Dark Mode (without upgrading Quen), and enjoying every second of what I previously thought were grossly unbalanced fights.
The game has been made easier since I first played. You can now parry without Vigor, interrupt queued attack combos, enjoy more responsive controls and in general easier combat. However even back then, people figured out how to survive the game's biggest brawls and hardest bossfights, stringing chains of kills without taking any damage.
Witcher 2's combat is hard, but it is fair. It has a clean set of rules to learn and follow, and many ways to approach most fights. Once you spend some time learning the game's mechanics, even Dark Mode will not pose you with real difficulty. If learning is not your thing and you want to enjoy an easy, challenge-free experience - by all means, that's what Easy mode was made for. ›››
This, ah to play TW 2 for the first time again. I remember the first time I won the ballista brawl. After getting my butt kicked many times by mindlessly charging I did something that I hadn't done in a video game for years. I stopped, evaluated my enemies and their position, thought out a tactic using the various signs, went in with a plan, and won!