Kingdom Come: Deliverance

Platform(s): Nintendo Switch, PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
Genre: Role-Playing
Publisher: Deep Silver
Developer: Warhorse Studios
Release Date: Feb. 13, 2018

About Tony "OUberLord" Mitera

I've been entrenched in the world of game reviews for almost a decade, and I've been playing them for even longer. I'm primarily a PC gamer, though I own and play pretty much all modern platforms. When I'm not shooting up the place in the online arena, I can be found working in the IT field, which has just as many computers but far less shooting. Usually.


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PC Review - 'Kingdom Come: Deliverance'

by Tony "OUberLord" Mitera on Feb. 20, 2018 @ 1:30 a.m. PST

Kingdom Come: Deliverance is an open-world, action-adventure, role-playing game featuring a nonlinear story and revolutionary, first-person melee combat.

Buy Kingdom Come: Deliverance

Very recently, I wrote up my hopes for Kingdom Come: Deliverance in our Most Anticipated Games of 2018 article, in which I'd hoped that the game would be one that I could get lost in for hours. After playing the final release, I'm happy to say that there's plenty to do, both in terms of quests and other activities that can steal your attention. Your attention will easily be won over, but it'll just as easily broken when you encounter goofy bugs or strange design choices.

The core gameplay is quite solid. In this swath of medieval Bohemian countryside, you play as Henry, the son of a skilled blacksmith who uses his trade making nails and horseshoes for the village of Skalitz. You wake up and are given a series of tasks to help your father make a special sword for a local nobleman named Sir Radzig, and this scenario also serves as a tutorial to get the player accustomed to the game. It starts with getting some nails and a hammer back from a guy who didn't pay up.

You can try your hand at talking the guy out of it, but ultimately, you have to fight him to learn unarmed combat. The game prides itself on its physics-based combat, and at first, that does not translate well to an enjoyable experience. Swings take time to wind up and connect, and other than light, heavy, and kick attacks, there isn't much to the system. Your first fight will possibly (and quite literally) lead to you running back to your mama in your bloody clothes, crying over the fact that you won't stop bleeding.

How you react to this sets a baseline on how you'll enjoy the rest of the game. If you expect to always be the hero of the story and have everything revolve around you, expect more frustration and bloodied wounds in the future. Kingdom Come: Deliverance is capable of putting you in your place should you get into a situation that Henry simply isn't trained well enough to handle. It's not that the game is hard, as much as it rewards those who build themselves up and punishes those who do not.

You don't level up by gaining overall experience points; you level up a skill by using it. Starting off, you'll be terrible at most things, but as you ride a horse, you'll become more proficient at it. Running around helps to build your vitality. Simply talking to people or haggling with shopkeepers for a better price will raise your speech skill. Each skill also has its own level and perk points, letting you further specialize them how you'd like. Your hunting skill will let you gain pelts with one perk, and your drinking skill (seriously) may change how hangovers work.

At the outset of the game, you are little more than an average villager. Just as the sword is crafted and you learn a little about your father's past, the village is attacked by a massive army. Henry tries to help but ends up outside the castle after the drawbridge is raised and stuck with the enemy. He steals a horse and rides to a nearby town to warn them, taking a few arrows in the process, and he goes under for a couple of weeks while he recovers.

At this point (about two to three hours in), the game stops being a tutorial and opens up to let you do whatever you want. You find yourself in the service of Sir Radzig, and while he gives you tasks to complete, you are free to tackle them at your own pace. After a memorable quest chain involving a pompous young nobleman who goes from ridiculously punchable to actually likeable, you also are able to hunt animals such as rabbits and deer to make some money. Of course, poaching is illegal, so the raw meat is flagged as "stolen" goods, but simply cooking the meat removes the stolen status, and it also keep longer and has a higher resale value.

You can do just about anything, but all of it feels a lot less polished than expected. Hunting or using a bow in any capacity lacks a reticle to aim with, so combined with the arm sway, it's very difficult to hit your target. This gets better with bow experience, but it's needlessly punishing nonetheless. The same can be said about the lockpicking system, which requires you to hold the mouse cursor in a particular space on a rotating tumbler. As it rotates, the cursor wiggles, which makes you lose the spot you need and makes it impossible to reliably find it. This is quite punishing early on, as lockpicks are in rare supply, and some quests require a lock to be picked.

This clunky nature also extends to combat with a weapon, though to a far lesser extent. Fighting with a sword ends up being a lot of fun, but initially, it's a maddening mess of learning how to block, dodge, feint and parry, and it's not always easy to get the right feedback about what you're doing wrong if you mess up. Learn more as the player while also leveling Henry's sword and warfare skills, and the swordplay suddenly opens up. Managing stamina and positioning while slashing and stabbing at a foe and parrying his attacks is just as entertaining as expected.

The biggest downside to the combat is that it tends to lack a lot of feedback over the enemy's condition. I appreciate the lack of a health bar, and I get that a guy wearing layers of plate and mail might be a tough nut to crack. However, you can whale on a guy with multiple blows, and while your sword gets bloodied, you can't tell if you're barely scratching your foe or causing mortal damage. Other than the sword, you don't see much blood at all, so enemies who have been practically eviscerated act roughly the same as ones who barely have scratches. At times, it can be difficult to know if you've landed a hit at all, dueto animations being vague and the lack of visual effects.

While I've heard a few tales of people having game-breaking quest bugs, crashes, etc., I haven't had such problems in my time with the game. The massive Day One patch seems to have done a lot of good; I had some goofy problems before the patch but nothing terribly noteworthy. Many other rough edges remain, though: vaulting fences and small obstacles doesn't always work, conversations can get stuck in loops, and at one point, I couldn't navigate up a staircase but found that sneaking worked.

If there's one area that the game's design outright falters, it's in the antiquated save system. In the stock game, it saves automatically after sleeping, after some major quest points, and after drinking a rare and expensive "save potion." I get that it makes combat mean more, since you must weigh choices more carefully. However, the lack of a "Save & Exit" option means that you often have to playing for longer than you'd wish.

Thankfully, the mod community took off the same day the game was released. At the time of writing, you can mod in reticles for bow aiming, multiple lockpick options, and fix the nonsensical save system. I suspect that as time goes on, there will be other creature-comfort mods that PC users can elect to swap in, and although the game doesn't officially support modding, it's quite easy to do. Some people will like the save system as it is, but I have a two-year-old; my days of hardcore play are limited on the best of days.

If you're looking for an open-world RPG that tends to throw you into the deep end, Kingdom Come: Deliverance definitely scratches that itch. The game could still use some patches, and I suspect many people are going to want to dip into mods to smooth down some of the title's rougher edges. There's a fine game under the layers of clunky systems and punishing early mechanics, but Kingdom Come: Deliverance is enjoyed as much as it is endured, and how often that wavers back and forth is perhaps the game's largest shortcoming.

Score: 6.7/10

Reviewed on: Intel i7 4970k, 16 GB RAM, NVidia GTX 970

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