- Huge open world
- Looks nice… in parts
- Feels very unique and original
- Sticks to its ideas constantly
- The save system is stupid
- Expect bugs
- Can start to grind you down after a while
- Review Price: £39.99
- Release Date: Out Now
- Genre: Action RPG
- Developer: Warhorse Studios
- Platforms: PS4, Xbox One, PC
Kingdom: Come Deliverance has been in development since 2009 and it shows. Manifesting itself in both positive and negative ways, Warhorse Studios’ massive open world RPG is unlike any other game of its ilk simply because of how understated it is. Obsessed with re-creating the 15th century as realistically possible, there’s no pizazz; no sense of wonder; no mucking around. It just is…
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On one hand, this is wonderful. Too many games these days are keen to treat the player like an idiot, hamfisting tutorials in a way that feels almost patronising. That’s not the case here. In fact, Kingdom: Come Deliverance almost goes too far the other way. Within the first few minutes you’re asked to engage in combat, but you’re never really told how to do that properly until after the fact. It expects you to use your own intuition to figure it out, and that’s as refreshing as it is frustrating.
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This isn’t helped by the fact the combat system itself is bizarrely complicated. It does get easier the more you play, and it’s certainly not unlearnable. But if you just want to be given a sword and then smash away at one button, you’ll hate this from the outset. You have to be meticulous, patient and constantly thinking – a moment’s lapse will see you killed, and believe me, this is unforgiving to a fault. If someone smacks you over the head with a weapon, you’re more than likely already dead.
Such an approach does allow fighting to be satisfyingly brutal, which ties into the realism Warhorse is desperate to convey. Whatever would happen in the real world will happen within this world of make believe, right down to choosing to wear a helmet and your vision being severely impaired. There’s a consequence to every action.
This is replicated in the environment you find yourself in, too. The setting is huge, very detailed and well realised, but there just doesn’t seem to be enough to do within it, simply because of this desire to never embrace the idea of ‘fantasy’. You can appreciate the green fields and soothing horizon, but ultimately you’re just walking from point a to point b because you have to. On occasion you may be attacked by an animal, but it’s not like you’re ever going to stumble across something incredible. It simply doesn’t exist.
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All of this makes the minute-to-minute gameplay very odd and mundane because, more or less, you’re just going through the motions. The story here is interesting in some sense, but it never really develops either. You play Henry, a son of a blacksmith whose family has been murdered during a breakout of war in Bohemia. Upset by this, naturally, he decides to do his bit and fight the good fight. A worthy cause, but it mostly plods along at a very slow pace rather than grabbing you by the arm and throwing you into all matter of shenanigans.
That doesn’t mean Kingdom Come: Deliverance can’t surprise you as your own story can veer off unexpectedly. There’s a set of rules in place that will see you get arrested if ignored, lords respond kinder to you if you’ve bathed and brandishing a sword in public is taken very seriously indeed. There just doesn’t seem to be a ‘eureka’ event that all of a sudden fires the flames. You just continue to ‘do’ and see where it takes you.
The sheer size of the project also results in a tirade of bugs, and while more often than not these can just be laughed off, I’ve encountered a few which have meant I’ve had to reload a save. Most of the time I wouldn’t mind this, but Warhorse’s system is so out there it can be annoying.
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Although the game will save at certain key points, if you want to do it manually you have to buy an expensive drink and neck the thing. Given that money isn’t exactly easy to come by it’s not an area you can overly invest in, so if you hit a technical issue and have to go back an hour… well, you’re going to be mad.
This is even worse when Kingdom Come: Deliverance pulls a fast one with one of its aforementioned rules. You can get arrested for committing a crime by mistake and then die in jail if the game decides that’s your fate. It’s a lovely way to make every journey personal, but also a nightmare if you hadn’t marked your progress.
It’s fair to say that gameplay is varied, though, and this isn’t just a case of wandering through a forest chopping people to bits. Combat is measured and not overly regular, and there has been an effort to keep progression interesting. Much like The Elder Scrolls’ ‘Dark Brotherhood’ quests, for example, at times you’ll be asked to play detective, or even go undercover. These sections are easily a highlight but – surprise, surprise – don’t ever expect a sudden burst of explosions or lightning to rain down. They’re all very considered, and of course, realistic.
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Kingdom: Come Deliverance is ridiculously big, but that shouldn’t really put you off. There’s more than enough to distract you, but ultimately it’s more than happy being as straightforward as possible. Don’t expect any crazy rides here.
As real as real can be – including the boring bits – at least this stands out within a genre that’s absolutely flooded with titles. That in itself is quite the feat…
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Kingdom: Come Deliverance is a good RPG that ignores fantasy for a more realistic edge. That does make it wonderfully quaint, but also means it can be a little dull, too.