Historical realism. That’s what Kingdom Come: Deliverance sets out to, well, deliver. And it does! In a market where the term “medieval” is typically paired with “fantasy,” Warhorse Studios decided that they wanted their Kickstarter project to stand apart as a purely realistic approach to the period. Obviously this comes with some concerns about how fun the game is, and I voiced these concerns in a previous article. Unfortunately, while some of my concerns turned out to be somewhat unfounded, others definitely were legitimate.
In this game you take control of Henry, the son of a blacksmith whose family is killed during political turmoil in the kingdom of Bohemia. Eventually he sets out to exact revenge and save the kingdom. His story as he progresses from blacksmith boy who only knows the basics of swordplay, to a full-fledged knight is compelling and interesting. In fact, it’s one of the better parts of the games. Moving forward and getting better armor and weapons comes with a feeling of satisfaction.
Most of the problems in Kingdom Come: Deliverance are technical ones. The moment you start up the game you’ll be greeted by the day one patch. A “patch” that’s the same size as the game itself. And even with that patch applied, there’s still technical issues. Playing as Henry takes some getting used to, as the mechanics to move him around feel awkward. Moving around the world feels cumbersome for a while, and moving around inside houses is like a first-person version of The Witcher 3. You feel as though you’re too big and fast for the house. You’ll get used to all this eventually, but it makes the first couple of hours frustrating and has no doubt turned off many a gamer already.
The appearance of the game is also a little strange. Some areas are beautifully detailed and enjoyable to look at, while others are just awful. For example, when you walk through the woods, the grass and rivers are gorgeous, but then you enter a city and some of the textures on the buildings are virtually non-existent. Character animations are also incredibly strange during dialogue, because most characters use the same hand motions. Especially Henry. There’s a scene, based on the choices you make, where Henry may have to give a sermon in a church. Well, he uses the same five movement animations during the whole thing, so it looks incredibly awkward. For a game boasting as many combat animations as it does, you would think some more thought would be put into characters.
Those gorgeous textures
The voice acting is almost as awkward as the movement. The voice actors did a decent job voicing the characters but clearly they were recorded separately cause there’s rarely chemistry between characters. Since many dialogue scenarios are choice driven, there’s often a pause between when you say your line and when the other character responds. And, obviously, vice versa. And since there’s a lot of talking in this game it gets old really fast. Thankfully you can skip through dialogue.
The music, on the other hand, is brilliant. It’s meant to be period accurate, as with all things in this game, and that’s a great thing! You feel sucked into the world when you’re walking through the market and a happier tune is playing or when you’re cresting a hill on your horse and there’s a more majestic sound in the background.
The gameplay though. . . I touched briefly on Henry’s awkward mechanics and the horse riding is even worse. Yes, it’s a great way to travel quickly (if you’re going in a straight line) but goodness is it annoying. It’s difficult to explain exactly how frustrating it is to ride the horse and it gets worse when you’re riding through the forest. Some bushes act as if they don’t exist and others are like concrete barriers to the horse.
Combat is also a bit of a chore. It’s designed to be realistic, so taking on more than one person at a time is nearly impossible (which definitely makes sense), but earlier in the game combat feels nearly impossible. Or insanely easy. At one point I led a bandit back to where my fellow soldiers were so they could kill him in one hit. Moving forward and becoming more powerful is awesome, but the combat simply isn’t engaging. And since this was a major selling point of the game, it deals a heavy blow to how good the game is as a whole.
Cutscenes and credit scenes are nice though
There’s also systems like lock picking and pick pocketing if you want a less noble and more stealthy approach to the game. So there’s definitely variety and that helps alleviate some frustrations. And there’s also potions you can make and other brewing you can do. For better or worse you can do a lot. Whether or not it’s better or worse is mostly up to whoever is playing it. Personally, I’ve never been a big fan of brewing anything in games as a rule because it’s always tedious.
Other constant mechanics in the game are the fact that you need food and sleep and to take a bath. These aren’t as big of problems as I originally thought they would be since food is readily available and you can usually fast travel to wherever your bed is. And bath houses are in major cities too, and if not there’s usually a water trough. The worst mechanic, however, is the fact that, in order to save your progress at points other than story checkpoints you need to drink a special saving brew. It’s frustrating because it means you either play until you reach a checkpoint or you have to use one of these special brews. It’s a terrible idea and shouldn’t have been included.
Despite all the problems I listed above, Kingdom Come: Deliverance isn’t actually a bad game. It’s quite fun and will definitely appeal to medieval history buffs and/or those who are big into RPGs. If you can push past the first few hours you’ll start getting used to the way things are and it only really takes off from there. Do you want to be a noble knight or a scoundrel? Do you want the villagers to love or hate you? Will you kill those who surrender to you or let them live? It’s all up to you. You have a lot of choice and while a lot of things aren’t great in this game, they’re not awful either. The story is compelling enough and the progress is real.
Sometimes they’re pretty, sometimes they’re not. The forests are gorgeous and the people are decently detailed. The cities are horribly textured.
Most of the mechanics are awkward and require getting used to. And, unfortunately, the combat isn’t the best.
The dialogue might be awkward, but the music is fantastic at the very least.
The progress you feel from blacksmith boy to knight is worth it. The amount of choice you have also makes the game fun. The mechanics of the game make it drag a bit though.
Final Verdict: 7.0
Kingdom Come: Deliverance is available now on PS4, Xbox One, and PC
A copy of Kingdom Come: Deliverance was provided by the publisher.