by Johnathan Irwin
reviewed on PC
While humanity’s future remains uncertain, considering how chaotic things seem to be in our little pocket of the Solar System, we’re still far better off than we were just a few centuries ago – even with our frequent missteps. That being said, it’s often easier to look back at the past than it is to plan ahead for the future. I’m a military history fan and one particular period of interest for me is the early 1400’s of Bohemia (current day Czech Republic) when a shift in political powers tore the region asunder and sparked off a series of conflicts that would eventually erupt into the Hussite Wars. A perfect setting for a deep RPG.
Kingdom Come: Deliverance promised it would bring players into the era shortly after Sigismund of Luxembourg began to make his power plays in the region. "God", I thought to myself, "are they making this game especially for me?". Historical accuracy, as close to realistic as possible while maintaining a good level of entertainment - these were all bold goals. Did all the blood, sweat, and tears poured into development pay off?
A Man Named Henry
Henry is the son of and apprentice to a Blacksmith in the peaceful village of Skalitz. The life of a Blacksmith’s apprentice is one of daily routines and nightly romps with friends and maidens but Henry is about to find his world turned upside down as Sigismund’s conquest finds its way to Silver Skalitz. A warband of both Hungarian and Cuman soldiers under the command of one of Sigismund’s most ruthless lieutenants sack the village, killing men, women, and children before razing it to the ground. Henry is forced to flee but not before he watches his father’s valiant last stand, fighting and falling to the leader of the raid. The seed of revenge is planted, and so would begin my walk in Henry’s shoes after just having gotten my first taste of the brutality that would await through the course of the game.
Even with the aim for historical accuracy, there is much of the time period that is lost to the ages. Was Silver Skalitz ransacked during the Hussite Wars? It could be very possible, much of Bohemia was ravaged by warfare before nature slowly reclaimed it and people began to resettle on the ashes of fallen settlements prior. But whether it happened or not as the game portrays is very much debatable, but it sure is a fantastic way to set the mood.
RPG Becomes RRPG
A Realistic Role Playing Game; that’s exactly how I would describe Kingdom Come: Deliverance. You’re not building the perfect character, you’re helping Henry grow as a person through his journey. Skills with various weapons, trade and social interactions, his ability to carry himself through Bohemia just a little bit better with each passing day insures that you never feel like you are slowing down. You’re always advancing Henry’s ability in some way, and even so, you will never feel overpowered in the slightest.
Your efficiency in combat will always come down to your skill as a player utilizing directional-based sword combat or no-reticule bow and arrow. Outside of combat, you will find yourself practicing how to use a grindstone to sharpen your weapons most efficiently, when to tip a shopkeep generously or haggle your way down to a lower price, how to master the tavern game of ‘Farkle’. You will encounter many faces from noblemen to lowly beggars that will react to you based on everything from how well you speak with them, right down to what you are wearing and how recently you have bathed. If that wasn’t enough, you can even suffer broken bones and critical bleeding that could cut your journey short if you’re not well equipped to handle them.
Last, but certainly not least, is the game’s saving system. Kingdom Come: Deliverance relies almost exclusively on autosaves when you are out and about in the world, and if you want to do manual saves you have to procure Saviour Schnapps, a very pricey beverage that enables you to do a manual save. For all the attention to detail and emphasis on realism, it is a bit silly to have that included but I suppose that it (along with a fast travel ability) is in there to help save the time for gamers who may not have a lot of time on their hands. Overall, it’s as realistic an experience as you can get in an RPG of this magnitude while still bending the knee a bit just to make it more accessible to the more casual crowd.
The Beautiful European Countryside
Kingdom Come: Deliverance is far from the most realistic looking game I’ve ever gotten my hands on, but that doesn’t make it look any less gorgeous. Traveling through the Bohemian countryside, through the small villages and larger wall-protected cities is a treat on its own. I even opted to walk instead of riding on horseback most of the time to still my curiosity by walking off the beaten paths. To follow the streams in a soft rain shower, to stare from a hilltop over the horizon and seeing a cloud of black smoke from a battle marring an otherwise beautiful view, it’s every bit as enticing hours in as it is when you first start. But it's not perfect. Up close, textures sometimes look muddied. It’s most apparent when you’re dealing with buildings that have light-colored walls, and if you’re right next to a water source.
Character models look detailed, until you get to their faces where the detail graphically remains. Unfortunately the facial animations break the immersion, looking more like animatronic ‘humans’ speaking rather than living, breathing people. Thankfully, the voice acting helped me look past that most of the time.
With a massive game such as this, surely there’s something wrong with it more than just some texture and animation issues right? Yes, but nothing big. I’ve encountered a recurring glitch in cutscenes that involve characters sitting down, where Henry will randomly be sitting beside his chair or facing the opposite way of others. It doesn’t happen often, but when it does it breaks the immersion, even if it gets a grin out of me. It could be much worse.
Is this the real life? Is this just fantasy? Thankfully, Kingdom Come: Deliverance is not a landslide, a mix of game and reality. It may not capture the appeal of the overall mainstream, but that’s okay. Anyone willing to take a dive into the niche waters of the gaming world, and not afraid of games being unforgiving, should definitely check this out. I love this game. Open your eyes, give this game a try and see.
Incredibly detailed, high realism and addictive combat.
Facial animations can break immersion, a few small glitches.