Have you ever wondered what it would look like to live in 15th Century Bohemia, with its rich culture and history? Then you’re in luck, because developer Warhorse Studios and publisher Deep Silver have released an exciting first person action role playing game. Incredibly reminiscent of titles like Fallout and Elder Scrolls, the game uses this immersion strategy to pull you deep into the story and the environment.
But player be warned, it is simulationist over power fantasy. Your stamina will drain with every action, your character needs to eat and sleep as though he were alive, your food will spoil, your clothes will tatter, your weapons will bloody and all of this will have a negative impact on your character. In addition, healing is closer to real life than in gaming terms. Only a small section of food actually returns health to you and it’s minuscule. There are potions and tinctures available, but they are incredibly rare and expensive when found. And as happens in times where nobility and money is everything, the way you look will play a key role in whether you can get what you want from someone through talking.
Fair bit of warning, I have only played through what I consider the tutorial area of the game.
And I mostly did this following the mission banners. I don’t know if the game prevents you from going to other places or if you’re restricted to the path between the first two towns. I also want to say that I played through the tutorial section twice, once by myself and another tossing the controller between me and a friend.
I actually had a lot of difficulty in deciding what to write about this game for this section. Not for a lack of information, there is just so much to go over, to fully delve into it I’d need a 30 minute long video at minimum. But I have chosen to hit the highlights or what is key to the game other similar titles don’t bring to the fore.
First, as this is an action title, it’s appropriate to talk about the combat system first. Where other games would have a system for aim correction and hit assistance—Fallout’s VATS system for example—Kingdom Come has given the player a camera lock. Some of you may think this odd that I consider camera lock to be different from other aim assists. But that is the only assistance given to the player. If you miss with a swing of any kind, and that happened a great many times for me, you could be punished for it based on your opponent’s skill. Which varies from each individual character you face. A brigand will fight differently from a soldier or a knight; and each fights differently based on the weapon they’re using at the time and their individual proficiency with that weapon. Requiring you to not only learn how to defend against various weapons but many combinations of attacks.
The next topic is the skills, stats and perks. At the end of the day, you’re one pile of stats attacking another pile of stats. Rather than having a skill leveling system like Fallout the game is more like the Elder Scrolls way of leveling, basically you do the thing to get better at doing the thing. Under all of the levelable stats—there are a few stats on there that are influenced by your items—you can pick a perk. The perk system is a bit more in line with Fallout, in that they are few, far between, level dependent, but gives a healthy boost to your character. Case in point, under vitality there is a buff that lets you constantly regenerate health. For a world where healing is hard to come by just being able to naturally heal sounds like a godsend. The caveat is that you only get a few perk points, and there is always one on that list you will not be able to get either because you only have enough for all the others but that one or they’re restricted by another perk you have taken. Meaning that there is some planning that will be needed if you’re to optimize your build so that they actually help you and remove barriers, rather than remove barriers you haven’t encountered yet.
Finally the save system needs to be addressed. Which seems a little odd, after all a save system is a fairly simple concept, you either have points that you can save or in the case of open worlds you can save wherever you please. This is convenient especially if you think you’re about to enter a difficult area or challenging opponent. As well as the standard story save points when you’ve advanced the story the game will save itself for you as well. In this game, it still has the story driven save points and sleeping will auto save the game; but for the manual save system that’s a little more difficult for players to have. In order to save, the player will need to have something called Saviour Schnapps. Which is an alcoholic item that the player can drink for benefits similar to other drinks. It is a very rare item however, and where it could be found cost hundreds of silver pieces in order to buy. While you might be thinking sleeping is the free solution, don’t forget these two points: first, you will lose nourishment from doing that and second, sleeping locations are limited to wherever a bed is. Which could be miles away from where you’re trying to progress.
The animation is some of the most breathtaking that I’ve seen come from games in a long time. While the character models have minor improvements, we’re starting to walk in uncanny valley territory at this rate; the background is where the game shines. The forest seem truly realistic, giving an ancient claustrophobic effect that modern times has lost without some rampaging monster. Even the few glades and thinner part of the forest don’t completely remove the ancient terror old instincts in me haven’t completely removed. The rolling hills, and there are plenty of these are breathtaking. I caught myself a few times standing on a small hill overlooking a small village in the distance. Absorbing in the scenery, only broken by the HUD overlay that I couldn’t figure out how to turn off.
The quaint villages themselves are fairly impressive as well. While I’ve never been to the region the game takes place in, I come away with a sense that they are accurate to the times. Especially given that the area you’re in is very poor and rural. Houses are built with economy, not comfort as is evident by the fact that the sleeping areas in even the more prosperous houses are adjacent to the cooking fire as well. Even the one castle town that I visited, while much better than the hut I started out the game in, while opulent still has low class feeling to it that matches the surrounding area.
How to become Godlike by picking flowers
This next section is about my first initial play throughs. My first is nothing spectacular, as I mainly followed the quest exactly as it was given to me. My second run however, was something more interesting.
I first played this game the day after it’s launch just trying to get a feel for the game and get my initial impression. I played it again a second time when I went to a friend’s and we restarted so that he could play through the intro section. While he was playing he found the perk system, something I overlooked on my initial play through and began to read through them. When he got to herbalism, he pointed out two perks that he found interesting. One that increased charisma for having enough plants in your inventory and the other, increasing your strength progression every time you pick a plant. At first, we though the bonus for this would be hard to grind, until we discovered that flowers were ridiculously ubiquitous. We then followed this up with the next bit, that in the game you could haggle which levels your speech, and that you could easily grind your speech by selling one plant at a time and agreeing to the initial sale’s price every time. We even found out that if you undersold enough, it could raise your reputation which would give you better pricing on actual valuable equipment later on in the game.
This lead to several hours of us running around, literally we were using the run button as often as we could, until lo and behold our vitality leveled up as well. So how does this make you godlike, because it certainly isn’t a fast exploitation of the game leveling system. And you’re right, it isn’t. During the three hours we did this we only got herbalism up to level 10 from 0 and the other stats and skills only received one level each. What makes it a little overpowered is you can do this in the starting town of Skalitz, before ever leaving for the main story as a whole. And it’s truly a compliment to the creators of this game that they could have so many balls up in the air for players to consider like this and it not ruin the feel of the game at all. Needless to say, my save file has this nonsense on it and I have no intention of starting over, mostly because I didn’t do it enough to break the game, and it didn’t take very long to realize that without the combat stats to help you fight the enemies, they don’t really do much. In addition, in order to afford even the cheapest of the best items in the game you would need to pick somewhere between 3000-6000 flowers. Not really worth it for the cash, but for an early level spike it’s pretty neat all the same.
I absolutely adore this game. The action and swordplay are fantastic, and the actors are stellar in their ability to make you really believe that you’re in medieval Bohemia. I find myself needing to be reminded that this is an Indie game yet has managed to play in the larger AAA sandbox that many larger companies have lately struggled trying to compete in. The game does have it’s bugs and some optimization issues, but overall they’re so minor that they can be easily overlooked for the epic story and plot that this game brings to the fore. It’s definitely worthy of my time and if you’re a fan of other first person adventure games and are straddling he fence on it, let me assure you that the game is definitely worth the time you will put into play it. So sally forth, grab a copy, and have fun besieging the castle in this medieval epic. GG everyone!
Kingdom Come: Deliverance
- Combat flows incredibly well and feels accurate
- Long game to play through
- Rich and deep background images
- Memorable characters
- Incredibly epic story from humble beginnings to greatness
- Combat is hard and unforgiving if you don't learn it
- Long game to play through
- You're gonna notice the hand motions in dialogue will repeat