Publisher: Deep Silver
Developer: Warhorse Studios
Format Reviewed: PC (also on PS4 and Xbox One)
Provided By: Publisher
Price: £39.99 (PC) £54.99 (Console)
I’m going to keep spoilers to a minimum but it may contain some early game spoilers to illustrate a point. So consider this your warning.
Eastern European developers certainly love their medieval open world games. KC:D is no exception, it’s a beautifully crafted, janky at times open world game set in 1403. Billed as being “Historically Accurate” you won’t find any magic spells ala skyrim here.
It’s the “historically accurate” part that is most intriguing about the game and really it’s USP. I can’t comment on how historically accurate it is as I wasn’t alive in 1403 and that era was never really touched upon in history lessons.
The game sees you play as Henry, the son of a blacksmith who is indebted to the local lord and the game starts off simple with you having to do some odd jobs for your father. The game makes it pretty clear at this point what you’re in for as there are a couple of ways for you to approach the jobs.
So your first task is to collect a debt for your father, the game offers you the choice of trying to talk to him , fight him or you can just steal the items back. At this point if you try to fight him alone he pummels you to the ground so you can go and get your friends to help you beat him up. The game then slowly picks up from there. The opening credits didn’t roll for me until about 5 hours into the game as I was just generally wandering around admiring the amount of work put into the world.
The game starts off in the town of Skalitz in Bohemia, you’ve heard rumblings of the king being overthrown by his brother and he starts pillaging estates in the kingdom, this is where the game starts to pick up. The story flows along at a very good pace, but depends on how many side quests you do.
The questing system works how you would expect it to work in a game of this type, however some quests are time limited – if someone says meet me at 3pm if you aren’t there at 3 pm they won’t be there or if they are, they will be angry you are late. Similarly you may only have a certain amount of time to do a quest and if you don’t get it done it’s gone ( i.e you need to fetch an ill person a potion, take too long and they die). This is not a game that waits around for you to get round to doing the quest.
The game requires you to eat food to keep your strength up and to rest regularly or else you’ll pass out in the world. If you eat food that has gone off your character can get food poisoning and die (happened to me a couple of times!), alcohol can help you in certain situations as it’ll improve your speech skill, of course if you have drunk too much you can’t walk let alone talk.
Skills are handled slightly differently as well, the more you use a skill the better you get in it – except for things like sword fighting. For sword fighting you must be trained by someone. There are minor skill trees, where you get a choice of say Faster Sprinting but it uses more stamina, or use less stamina with slower sprinting and if you choose one of them it locks the other skill out. You also can’t just pick up a book and read it, like you would in skyrim, unless you’ve learned how to read.
Combat isn’t just point and click like Skyrim, you need to position yourself correctly and chain combos together by moving the mouse/analog stick in a direction and attacking. If you come up against an armoured foe, you need to find the gaps in their armour in order to successfully fight them or find another way to fight them…like at night when they are sleeping and unarmoured. The swordfighting has never been handled in a game as well as it has in this, it is impressive the level of realism that has gone into the swordfighting system with regards to how you have to use different stances and combos to get through a characters block.
Similarly, armour while usesful can also have a negative effect on you, if you are wearing a helmet your view is obstructed slightly which obviously can cause issues. So I just went without helmets, which as im sure you can imagine wasn’t a good idea as it left my head wide open for attacks.
The realism aspect stretches to even washing your character, if you don’t clean yourself then people will smell you a mile away and you won’t be able to use stealth because you stink. Similarly if you don’t do and get any injuires tended to, everyone comments on how beaten up you look.
My main gripe with the game is the menu/inventory system, at first glance it’s a bit unwieldy but it’s no worse than the UI was in The Witcher 3 at first.
Another major gripe is the save system. It is auto saving when progressing through a quest or sleeping but if you wish to save wherever you want you have to have a Saviours Schnapps which you get from either traders, innkeepers or brewing yourself. It makes manual saving a bit of a pain and could mean you lose some progress if you’ve not progressed in a quest or slept for a while but ultimately it wasn’t something that i felt negatively impacted my time with the game as the autosaves were plentiful and meant i could still reload a slightly earlier save if i messed something up.
My only other gripe is that the game takes a little while to truly open up which might put some off but the game is worth persevering with until that point.
The controls take some getting used to – I’m still not entirely perfect at swordplay or lockpicking for example. This was with keyboard and mouse, I imagine some things might be easier with a pad.
PC Version performance was brilliant, everything on High with a frame rate of 55-60 on my i7 6600K, 16GB Ram, Geforce 970 system. I encountered the odd glitch but I never noticed anything game breaking in my playthrough, however I imagine the game will be improved going forward with several patches.
Ultimately it’s hard to not recommend Kingdom Come: Deliverance. It is a stunning realised game, the historical accuracy (while obviously not 100%) is quite a refreshing change and in my view does not hinder the game in any way, it actually raises the game above what it would be if it was just like skyrim and makes it fairly unique. I can see how it would put some people off, but it’s worth sticking with it and working within the systems as there is an absolutely brilliant game under it all and an excellent first effort from Warhorse Studios.