After a successful Kickstarter campaign which saw the company raise over £1m and saw the game picked up by publishers Deep Silver, Kingdom Come: Deliverance is finally with us, but was the wait worth it?
From the outside it looks like a typical RPG in the vein of Skyrim and Fallout but with a few interesting caveats. Gone are the dragons and the magic and in their place we have a more authentic look at medieval Bohemia and the day-to-day life of our not so heroic central character, Henry, the blacksmiths boy. I won’t spoil the story, but needless to say, you won’t be a blacksmith much longer young Henry! Once your home town of Skalitz is attacked and you flee, the meat of the tutorial begins and you’ll be learning the ropes for a few hours before being unleashed on the region of Sasau. Yes, the tutorial. Get strapped in, you’ve got a lot to learn!
Things start out nice and simple with some rather basic questing – go here, get this, chat to the locals – and we get an introduction to the world and the mechanics that we’ll be wrestling with for the next 30+ hours. Some might find the quests provided to be a little mundane, but you’re just a regular guy, not the next Dhovakin. However, way too often it resorts to aimlessly wandering around a small area looking for one particular thing. But that’s not to say everything is a boring fetch quest, oh no! You’ll deal with murders and thievery. You’ll take the cute girl on a date and get roped into having an all-night drinking session with the crazy local priest. You’ll also get the chance to put more than a few nobles in their place. However, without the realms of fantasy to draw from, temper your expectations appropriately.
Henry, the not so heroic star of the show
Kingdom Come’s world is beautifully rendered on the One X despite some graphical glitches and more than anything it feels lived in. NPCs roam the countryside and have a daily routine and the world moves on without you. If someone tells you to be somewhere at a certain time, you better be there or they’ll just leave without you as I found out to much hilarity only a few quests in.
It really is a wonderful world to be a part of until the seams start to show. Draw distance can be terrible, textures will resolve at strange distances – if at all – and despite all the care that’s gone into the world you’ll get stuck on everything. Personally I didn’t find anything game breaking, but it does have an impact on immersion.
The overarching systems that help you develop your character stem from the same pool of skills as every modern RPG. Fight – get stronger, run – get more athletic, talk – get better at schmoozing the locals. There’s also the slightly more unusual ones like drinking alcohol to improve your speech but this will subsequently make you lollop all over the place like a ragdoll. There’s quite a list and the more you practice a skill, the better you become.
There’s also some survival-lite mechanics to contend with. You need to eat and sleep but not too much! On a full belly you’ll have laboured movement and tire more quickly and if you don’t get enough sleep, tiredness will kick in and it may actually get you killed.
It’s just one guy, I’m sure this will be fine!
But all systems were not created equally and as many before have found, first person melee combat is difficult. Here it’s a mix of tentative excitement and patience sapping frustration. Like For Honor, you’re presented with a star which changes your stance and by moving the right stick, you must outfox your opponent with positioning and tactical nouse. Fight like a master swordsman with well timed parries and blocks and the bandits you’re fighting will lay down their weapons whilst pleading for mercy. On the flip side, come up someone well armed and well trained and things quickly get hairy.
These fights often descend into a fraught game of cat and mouse where you rarely feel like you’re in control and winning feels more like luck than anything else. Enemies also seem to draw from a limitless supply of stamina. Henry however, can be reduced to a wheezing mess after a few poorly timed swings. One particular fight midway through the game had me shaking my controller in frustration.
Don’t even get me started on the bows! You’ll shoot countless arrows before one finally hits its target. With all the swaying I’m pretty sure Henry is drunk the entire time. You’d also better hope you don’t have to fight more than one enemy, as things usually go south very quickly. You better make sure you have the right gear equipped as well otherwise you’ll get hammered.
Other frustrating mechanics include lock picking which still boggles my mind even after the update, and travelling on a horse. This is a bug fuelled nightmare that makes the tank controls of the original Resident Evil look like a modern masterpiece. Just hold B and let the horse do its thing otherwise you’ll find yourself stuck on all manner of scenery that may or may not have been there a few seconds ago.
Some of the vistas a breathtaking
I haven’t covered off things like the much vaunted realistic armour simulation, or even the lore – which is great if you want a history lesson. Then there’s things like how you dress, how you look, how you choose to speak… the list goes on. Honestly, I’d be here for over a week if I was to cover everything in depth.
Despite all this, the simple, earnest story is heart-warming and the majority of the voice acting is well delivered. Tom McKay in particular, who plays Henry, does a sterling job of making him feel like a real person, adding a range of emotion to the proceedings without laying it on thick.
In my opinion, Kingdom Come: Deliverance is decent title marred by technical shortcomings. Warhorse are clearly a talented but inexperienced team who have a passion for their creation. I wouldn’t go so far as to recommend it to everyone, I’d maybe even suggest waiting for a drop in price. If you want to run around and just smash some guys whilst hunting for magical loot I’d avoid it.
• Challenging combat
• A beautiful game world
• Henry – he’s a quality guy!
• Graphical issues
• Often puts realism ahead of fun