by William Thompson
reviewed on PC
Abilites and Talents galore
As with most RPGs, there are passive abilities and active abilities, which are different depending on the class of your character and those of your party members. Characters also have Talents, which are gained at every third level. Unlike the Abilities, Talents can be used by any class. Also, upon leveling up players are granted six points to use on increasing their skills at the five different skill sets in the game.
Certain skills can also be improved upon once you gain access to your stronghold. The stronghold acts as a rally point for your travelling companions and as mentioned, provides certain bonuses once upgrades/repairs have been performed on the run-down stronghold. Some of the repairs cost a substantial amount and take awhile to complete, but once activated, these improvements can be completed whilst you are out completing quests. But the stronghold improvements can also gain wealth through taxes, and as it also is free place to rest, you'll no doubt be spending plenty of time there to let your characters recover from their ailments.
I was a little confused by the dialogue, not because the language is confusing or because it was badly voiced, but the fact that only part of the dialogue has been voiced. At first, all the people I spoke with greeted me with an audible dialogue, but as I progressed through the towns, people who I met often voiced only part of their story. One minute I was fully enthralled by their back-story and the next minute I needed to read through the remainder of their story. For me, this partially voiced dialogue caused the Pillars of Eternity story to become slightly disjointed. It would have been much better to have characters voice none of their dialogue tree than half of it.
But although the voice over work is so-so, the same cannot be said of the music. The soundtrack used in Pillars of Eternity is wonderful with varying tunes exemplifying the nature of the current landscape. When combat begins, a dramatic score prevails, whilst in certain conversations, the music portrays a foreboding experience. The music certainly conveys the game perfectly.
The 3D isometric view is one that old-school RPG'ers would be familiar. And although the view has an old-school feel, the settings are still wonderfully created. Dungeons are dimly lit, castle ruins are crumbling and covered with moss or overtaken with vegetation and water shimmers like a mirror. It all makes for a wonderful journey. The user interface is reasonably good too, although the somewhat small spell and ability icons during battle make it hard to make any last minute on-the-spot decisions. Having said that, most decisions will be made whilst the game is paused and tooltips identify each icon.
Despite the early issues I had getting used to the controls and the gameplay, Pillars of Eternity became highly addictive. It was probably the point where I actually worked out a viable strategy for the two characters in my party when in combat and I found myself playing long into the night which, for me anyway, is the sign that I'm having fun. Learning the intricacies of each your party members and finding out what works against each opposition type is part of the fun. The setting too is beautiful, giving the story a place to shine. And although the partially-voiced conversations feel a little disjointed, the audio as a whole is superb, highlighted by the atmospheric music. The quests and enemies are varied enough too, to keep the game from becoming stale. So, if you're an old school RPG gamer, or looking to get into them, Pillars of Eternity would definitely be worth your while. Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to head back to my stronghold and see if anyone else needs some of my help.
Deep lore and wonderful music sets the tone of the game.
Non-existent tutorial makes the learning curve quite steep early on