The genre of medieval games never fails to interest me. On one end, we have our Mount and Blade: Warband type games, who defy time with its simple yet addictive gameplay. On the other, we see games like Of Kings and Men, which has failed to live up to expectations so badly, it isn’t even able to be purchased anymore. This means that a game like Kingdom Come: Deliverance could go in any direction.
With development beginning in 2012, it can be argued that Kingdom Come is one of the, if not the most, hyped up games within the medieval genre, ever. Relying on a Kickstarter campaign to prove that there was an actual interest in this game, it has never failed at any point to find said audience. By raising over $2,000,000 in just 10 months, it has had many fans (myself included) begging for a release. On Feb. 13, 2018, our wishes were met with the full release of the game for PC, Xbox One, and PlayStation 4.
WARNING: MINOR SPOILERS
Kingdom Come: Deliverance puts you in the year of 1403, where you play as Henry, the son of a blacksmith, in The Kingdom of Bohemia. Despite the game being historical fiction, it follows many actual events that took place during this time, including The Abduction of Wenceslas IV, The Conquest of Kuttenberg, and The Western Schism.
Along with playing this as your typical RPG, Warhorse Studios intended to create this game with realism as the prime target. As said by Daniel Vávra, one of the co-founders and leading spokesmen for the game, “We want to introduce the players to this extremely interesting, bloody, and intriguing part of European history.”
This realism is achieved by allowing players to play the game how they choose; if you want to be the asshole who kills everyone they see, you can do that. If you’d like to be Gandhi before Gandhi, you can talk your way out of issues. But what makes this game so interesting is that you have to pick your battles, if you’re wearing regular clothes and come up against a knight in shining armor, you will be talked down to, which will make you want to avoid any physical confrontation.
When attempting a quest, the game doesn’t hold your hand either. You can ask the many NPCs throughout the area to give you tips for finding someone or something, but you still must explore; even with the help you get, there’s still an underlying possibility you may not even go to the right spot. Add all this with an innovative combat system that features realistic movement and fighting, and it’s very understandable to see why players wanted this game so much.
But as best said by the Rolling Stones, you can’t always get what you want.
For starters, the game has been a victim of one of the most embarrassing launch days ever. Following years of development, alphas, and betas, you are finally ready to release your “finished product.” As a player, I was psyched to get my hands on this game, but then you hear the first blow: a day one patch. This was no problem, developers do this all the time. As annoying as it is, I get it. But then you find out the size: almost 25 GB! That is larger than the game itself is originally! But honestly, I’m still okay, this is a small studio, and I’d rather have the patch now, then later, but here’s the kicker: it hasn’t come yet.
Release night was a complete panic for players; following a statement from Warhorse Studios that said that downloading this patch could cause a deletion of your prior game save, thousands of players went into a confused state, wondering if they should start or wait. This game has been out for over a week as of me writing this; I am still waiting to get this patch. I’m already deep into my game save, so having to restart at this point could be a deal breaker.
With a mess of updates from Warhorse and confusion from players from every platform, the handling of this situation has been an embarrassment. Not only to the developers, but it’s a slap in the face to the dumbasses like myself, who thought pre-ordering this game was a good idea.
All that aside, I’ve still been able to play Kingdom Come: Deliverance a fair amount, and I have many thoughts I’d like to share. Let’s start with the pros of this game.
It’s a beautiful world: The graphics in this game are stunning; the world that Warhorse has created is not only incredible, but also immersive. It sucks you in and you become one with it. While the occasional graphical bug occurs here and there, it is worth taking the extra few minutes to not fast travel and just admire the scenery.
Innovative Combative System: I will admit, this combat system, at first, seemed clunky and stupid. But as your character and you improve and adjust, it turns out that it can be fun! While I think it suffers from a few things which I will go into more later, I find myself addicted to fighting in this game. I enjoyed the fist fighting the most, but I’ve found joy in every weapon so far!
Choices, choices, choices: I mentioned this earlier, but having to pick the proper dialogue option is fun and challenging. In many RPGs, it feels like combat is the only answer. But with Kingdom Come, I actually avoided combat often while my character was weaker by being tactical with my words. Through my first six hours of the game, I only recorded one actual kill; call it stupid or cool, but the fact the game lets me get that option is impressive!
Fun Storyline: MINOR SPOILER ALERT! The storyline in this game is not that unique; parents get killed by an evil guy, you want revenge. What makes it so fascinating and addicting is the pieces of it. The characters are all interesting and they don’t treat you like a god for no reason; you have to work and build your way up. You could do an amazing job on a quest but still get disrespected because ultimately, you’re just the son of a blacksmith. I’m still making my way through Kingdom Come, but the combination of the setting and story makes for an addictive game.
Now that we’ve looked at some of my favorite parts of Kingdom Come, let’s look at some of my cons.
Bugs: Perhaps this is because I haven’t gotten the patch yet, but Kingdom Come is plagued with bugs. The game seems to crash or freeze for a few moments a fair amount. When fighting, sometimes the enemy will just stop moving and stand still for a few moments. This is clear in the first battle you enter; a lot of the fight is just people standing still, swinging once or twice. It doesn’t happen all the time, but things like this kill the immersion. Also, other things like characters glitching or as I saw in a tweet, literally flying and kicking you, is unacceptable for a game that has been in development for so long. One moment that bothered me was when I got arrested for pickpocketing after being told by the person himself to pickpocket him as a part of the tutorial. It’s so frustrating to see this in a final product.
Broken Fighting: As great as the fighting can be, this system is not made to handle more than a 1 vs 1 scenario. I understand that being outnumbered is difficult, but not being able to switch back and forth makes it so frustrating. I’ve gotten killed quite a few times because I wasn’t able to shift my focus toward the guy hitting me, continuously, to block him. It’s so frustrating that such an enjoyable system fails at such a crucial part of the game.
The Abysmal Save System: I already know this is being fixed, but my review isn’t about the game ahead of time, it’s about what it is now. The save system is a lethal strike for Kingdom Come. When following the game’s development, I was already skeptical of not being able to just save and quit without having to use an in-game item, which isn’t easy to get. Although the game says it saves when you go to sleep, I find it not even acknowledging said save when I go back to play. For a game where you can’t always find a bed right away, it is beyond frustrating to lose 40 minutes worth of game time for something like that. It’s an excellent idea, but when I have to leave, I need to be able to save and quit; I don’t always have an extra 10 minutes to get to a bed sometimes.
Lockpicking is terrible: I think this is more of a personal issue, but the lockpicking is really, really, bad for consoles. It also sucks that you have a limit on the tutorial, because I still haven’t picked it up, and I don’t want to make a mistake that ends up affecting my save.
The biggest conflict for Kingdom Come: Deliverance is its inconsistency toward “realism.” While the game hits the nail on the head with a lot of game mechanics, a few things just make little sense. If I kill somebody in the middle of the woods, where there is nobody anywhere to be seen, that should never be known by anyone else. The fact that I can get caught for a crime that nobody saw is mind-boggling ridiculous for a time where I could easily get away with it. I also struggle to ignore how you can hit someone in the face who is not wearing any protection, with a blade, and not end the fight right there. It makes sense if you’re wearing armor, but if you aren’t, that should be over right there. Other things bother me too; going back to the first battle, I have spent so many attempts at trying to get past this. I understand that in real life battle, you won’t be able to get back to perfect health, but I’m not able to heal myself, even when there is no one around. It’s just stupid.
For as much fun as I am having with this game, one thought remains clear in my mind while playing this: Kingdom Come: Deliverance is NOT ready for release. Take away the bugs and you have yourself an amazing video game. One that could make a push for one of my favorites ever. As of now, I don’t think the game is polished enough for release, but it honestly could be. In an era of gaming where companies are able to get away with this crap all the time, I was looking for Kingdom Come to be an outlier, but I was wrong. Perhaps we as gamers put our expectations too high, but much like Henry’s parents, we’ve been struck down, again.
As negative as this review has been, I still want to give credit where credit is due. Warhorse, for all the inconsistencies and other mistakes, has a special game on their hands. If they can correct these flaws, Kingdom Come: Deliverance, could become an iconic game. This could not only become one of the best medieval games ever, but one of the best RPGs entirely. The modding community on PC has already gotten to work. Who knows, perhaps this game could have a Skyrim Affect, where people will continue to play it for years to come. Only time will tell.
Gameplay (x3): 6.5/10
Design (x1): 7.5/10
Fun Factor (x2): 7/10
Playability (x2): 6/10
Replay Value (x2): 7/10
Overall Score: 6.7