As game development starts to get more complex, studios are slowly beginning to dissolve due to the increased budget and difficulty in breaking out in the current market. This has been slowly taken over by independent studios and game developers who have started to release small scale but fun games. Kingdom Come: Deliverance was created as part of a Kickstarter that launched back in 2014. It was a success with its funding goal after achieving it before the end of Kickstarter. This also garnered the interest of some publishers letting the developers increase the scope and budget for the game.
After a long time, Kingdom Come: Deliverance is finally out now and it has launched on a variety of different platforms including the PS4, Xbox One and PC. If we count the enhanced consoles, the game also offers support for the Xbox One X and PS4 Pro, fulfilling the checklist of majority of the consoles that are available right now. This is a great achievement considering the size and experience of the developer: Warhorse Studios. They are Czech-based studio with such a huge scope project as their first endeavor, but have they managed to deliver a good game or failed out of the gate?
Kingdom Come: Deliverance is an AA Western RPG with strong European roots. The writing, the story and the gameplay offers the same feeling as playing some of the classic RPG from other European developers. There are not many of them left these days and the most recent and arguably successful example is of The Witcher 3, which is from a polish developer CD Project Red who are now considered one of the finest in the role playing genre. Unlike the high fantasy setting for most of the modern WRPGs, Kingdom Come: Deliverance has tried to tackle the historical medieval setting based on the real life events set during the Bohemian time period.
The story of the game is centered on the heroic tale of the son of a Blacksmith who becomes a victim of the act of war between two different empires. It is a historical time piece that is set during the 15th century setting in the Kingdom of Bohemia. Many of the in-game location are inspired by real-life places and feature a distinct European touch. Basically think Game of Thrones but without the fantasy aspect of it as most of the story is grounded in reality. There is no magic and emphasis is more on sword fighting, archery and melee combat.
The game plays like a standard first person RPG but with a fairly complex and deep combat system. It is hard to grasp the combat at first since there are multiple variable to take into consideration during a fight. First of all, you will have to keep the target locked on if you are going for 1 vs. 1 fight usually reserved for a tough battle. Then it is a simple case of tying to start a attack or chain together different strikes in the direction that is not being blocked by the enemy. There is a stamina gauge that needs to be kept in check because once it depletes, you will be no longer able to attack or block the enemy attacks. The combat in the game has a certain janky feel to it, but once you learn to master your movement in battle, it can be immensely satisfying.
The main story quest deals with destruction of war, death and family. The opening prologue of the game takes no time to pull the player in setting up the rest of the narrative nicely, however the pacing of the game is certainly not ideal. While I enjoyed roaming around the world and taking quests or completing objectives, some of the more mundane quests felt mostly a chore and the plot can take a backseat during this time leaving you little desire to continue your journey. Still, there are moments of epic sequences littered throughout the game when it truly shines with all of its narrative elements coming into play. The first of this is seen right in the beginning and moments like these occasionally pop up later in the story.
The quest design structure grants full freedom to the player so you can approach each objective in your own way. In the very first quest, I was required to ask for money from a person who was a drunkard. Of course, he didn’t exactly give it easily so it ended up in a fight and I had to beat him and then steal his keys to get the items that were required. I also had the choice of sneaking into his house and using a lock pick to steal from his chest, however I never tried it. To my surprise, I later learned that it was also possible to take my friends along with for help so this just shows one of the many possibilities offered in Kingdom Come: Deliverance.
There is a lot of attention paid to how your behavior affects your persona in the game. Depending on how you build your character, people will behave with you differently in most conversations. Your appearance is also equally as important. Simply taking a stroll through dirt will make your clothes full of mud leading to people treating you differently. You can tackle this by washing thoroughly but again it is something to keep in mind. Small things like this come along together in a way that makes Kingdom Come: Deliverance stand out among other RPGs.
This brings me to the most negative aspect of Kingdom Come: Deliverance. It is the technical makeup and quality assurance that makes the game suffer brutally, especially on consoles. The game is littered with bugs that can make you miss out on quests or lead to frustrating encounters. The very first bug that I encountered was right in the beginning when I wasn’t able to see my weapon along with the opponent. It can result in hilarious looking animations as well, but that is to be expected considering this was a large scale project from such a small indie developer and released on so many platforms. Still, they have tried to do an admirable job in patching some of the more severe issues and are still working on ironing out most of the complaints like the lock picking being too hard or the save game issues on PC.
Visually, the game feels like a mixed bag. I can appreciate the work that has been spent in creating the world but it is hard to ignore some of the poor quality textures or lack of proper animation during cutscenes. There is a lot of level-of-detail pop-in that makes it harder to immerse around in the world. Some of the cutscenes are pre-rendered which seems like a strange choice considering they are from the same game engine. The frame rate is not exactly free of issues with a mild stutter now and then, and this is made further complicated by the load times which can make it a chore to fast travel from one location to the next.
Kingdom Come: Deliverance Review (PS4)
Game Reviewed on: PS4
Game description: Kingdom Come: Deliverance is a story-driven open-world RPG that immerses you in an epic adventure in the Holy Roman Empire.
Kingdom Come: Deliverance might lack the technical polish of most large scale projects but it certainly doesn’t fail to deliver an ambitious and expansive open world RPG.