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Kingdom Come: Deliverance Review

by forgottenlor, 2018-12-17

The developers of Kingdom Come: Deliverance went to Kickstarter to prove that there was a market for a high budget RPG set in a historical setting. The game developers decided to set their story in medieval Bohemia, and that alone makes it pretty unusual. In terms of its mechanics Kingdom Come: Deliverance plays it safe. It borrows a lot from other successful open world RPGs, like Skyrim and The Witcher 3. In terms of its story and presentation, though, Deliverance really does something different in its tone, its world building, and its setting. Certainly, those things won't be to everyone's tastes. But for those who are open to what the game has to offer will find themselves along for a memorable ride.

 

Story and Setting

Henry has to solve some quests through branching dialogue.

Most RPGs we know are set in a fantasy version of the middle ages and the medieval elements are like something out of a fairy tale. Yes, there are knights and castles, nobles and peasants, and people ride around on horseback. Yet most of these games don't strive for any sort of historical accuracy, instead presenting our modern picture of medieval times. Deliverance is obviously different. It is set in a specific place and a specific time. We know who the king is, and what current events lead to the crisis we find ourselves in.

Kingdom Come: Deliverance strives to a large extent for a semblance of historical accuracy, even though it obviously takes liberties with its fictional story, and a few other things to make the game good entertainment. This can be seen in people's clothing, the fact that we can visit the baths and the cobbler, and not just because they make historical window dressing, but because it is advantageous to our charisma rating to occasionally wash ourselves, and because it's a good idea once in awhile to repair our shoes so they don't fall apart.

Well acted cut scenes tell Kingdom Come: Deliverance's story.

In Kingdom Come: Deliverance you play a set character named Henry, who is the son of a skilled blacksmith. Unfortunately for Henry he gets to witness firsthand a conflict which breaks out as a result of a war for the crown of Bohemia. Henry is destined to play a big role in how the events unfold in his home locality.     

While Deliverance's story might not be the best you'll find in an RPG, its still pretty gripping in my opinion, and is executed well, no doubt partially due to the excellent cast of voice actors who portray Henry and the other characters in the story. It also doesn't hurt that the missions which make up the main quest line are extremely varied, so that you find Henry presented with a variety of challenges in a variety of places.  Henry's adventures take him through towns, villages, monasteries, castles, battlefields and forests.

Kingdom Come: Deliverance is also unusual in its tone. While many terrible things happen in the game, its never grimdark, and it is certainly a much more upbeat than a game like The Witcher 1, 2, or 3. I've seen other reviewers describe the game as patriotic. I think this has to be taken with a grain of salt. Many of the invaders are Hungarians, and they aren't portrayed in a very friendly manner. They are invading mercenaries, and Henry, as a victim of the invasion, obviously doesn't see them in a positive light. Also, there are some pretty despicable Czech characters in the game. There are many characters though, who are decent people, and some characters are even surprising as they at first seem to be set up as unpleasant antagonists for Henry but turn out to have some redeeming qualities.

The game takes you to many interesting locations, including a monestary.


Combat

Kingdom Come: Deliverance is pretty unusual for its genre in that combat plays a lesser role than in comparable open world RPGs. You occasionally run into bandits in the woods or on the roads at night, but that's hardly the same as the large number of opponents you find in the wilds of The Witcher 3 or Skyrim. In the main quest line, I would also say that only a minority of the quests include the possibility of combat, and really only in a small minority is combat actually required. Combat is also usually fairly deadly. In some cases, you or your enemy have superior arms and armor in which case combat is very short. The poorly armed bandits you find early in the game pose almost no threat to you when you are in heavy armor. When actually facing an opponent in comparable equipment, combat still is pretty deadly. Most opponents can't survive more than a few well-placed hits with the appropriate weapon (swords not always being the most effective) and neither can you. At some point you or your opponent will start bleeding, which means if the combat isn't resolved quickly, whoever is bleeding will die on their own.

The melee system is rather complex with its six hit zones, blocking and rolling.

I initially built my Henry as a charismatic character who could fall back on melee combat. Melee combat in Kingdom Come: Deliverance is quite complex.  There are six target areas on an opponent, and you can block and dodge. As someone who has terrible reflexes and tends to avoid complex action combat games, I found myself overwhelmed when I first faced a well-equipped opponent in combat (which by the way was quite a way into the game). I'll have to leave it up to my readers who have mastered the melee combat system to say whether they liked it or not since I pretty much only engaged in melee combat against lightly armored archers or bandits, and otherwise avoided it as much as possible.    

Having found myself unable to defeat the said opponent in melee, I decided to soften him up with the basic hunting bow I'd been given in one of the game's main quests, and quite to my surprise I was able to take him down after a few attempts with the bow alone. At that point my Henry became an archer and he was able to down all the necessary opponents with his bow. Using the bow in Kingdom Come: Deliverance involves drawing the bow long enough to do good damage, but not too long as one begins to lose stamina and precision. Also, you need to aim well enough to hit a vulnerable location. While not easy per say, it was certainly simple enough for someone like me to master.

Using a bow is simpler, but still requires precise aiming.

The game also has an alchemy system, but combat potions need to be consumed before or after combat. These can heal you or increase your statistics for a time.


Mechanics

Like in Skyrim, in Kingdom Come: Deliverance you learn skills by performing actions. There are some skill books and teachers, but they can only improve your skills to a limited degree. Once you reach a certain level in a skill you get a perk. There are also attributes in the game, and these also increase when you perform certain acts that use the stat in question. Haggling increases speech and hunting increases agility, for example. Once you reach a certain level in an attribute or a skill you can buy a perk.

Once you reach a certain skill level you can buy perks which normally give some sort of useful bonus.

While the main quest line features tasks that can be solved with a wide variety of skills, many quests require either a high speech skill or combat. Stealth and lockpicking can very helpful on occasion as well, but I don't think there is a required quest that must be completed with either.  The game gives you the opportunity to improve many skills through mini games. For example, you can take part in an archery contest or hunt rabbits in the woods to increase your archery skill. These are all somewhat time intensive.

Taking part in an archery contest is a useful way to improve a combat skill outside of deadly combat, but it can get tedious to repeat.

Kingdom Come: Deliverance strives for the semblance of realism in ways many fantasy games do not. Practicing a skill really takes game time. To practice alchemy you actually have to brew each potion. To practice reading you have to buy and study books. While this is all wonderfully presented with beautiful graphics and is fun at the beginning, it can become tedious. For example, if you want to make a lot of potions you have to go through the steps to brew each one (or two). On the other hand, the time I spent in other games slaughtering endless monsters, I spent in Kingdom Come: Deliverance in picking herbs, cooking, hunting, taking part in archery contests, and haggling with shopkeepers. This gives Kingdom Come: Deliverance a more relaxing pace than a lot of open world RPGs. That will obviously not be everyone's cup of tea. You also have to eat, sleep, bathe, and keep your equipment in good shape. Having clean, new clothes, as well as being well rested and fed, actually improve your performance in and outside of combat. Whereas being exhausted, hungry, and smelly lower your various stats.

Haggling helps raise Henry's speech and charisma. It also helps him keep his hard earned wealth.


The Open World

Kingdom Come: Deliverance is an open world game, but its not really a sandbox game. The game has a very solid and fairly long main quest line. This quest has a lot of important characters and a well-developed story. Especially early in the game your ability to explore is very limited and the game seems fairly linear. Also, there are some quests in the main storyline that have to be done immediately. This is usually fairly clear though as the quests tell you when you have to meet a specific npc or be at a certain place.

Once you set out on your own, you can explore, but the game has a very different feel than an Elder Scrolls game. There are a lot of stores and a few side quests and tasks in most towns. Side quests usually involve doing something for an NPC who plays a minor role in the main quest and helps flesh out their character a little. These are decently done but are in general not as interesting or well developed as the main quest line quests. Tasks usually give you the chance to practice a particular skill and get rewarded for doing so. You can accept the challenge from a knight errant to take part in a non-lethal duel, you can do various less than legal things for the local miller, or you can hunt for the local tanner and sell him skins. I did do some of these tasks to try them out or did others when I wanted to develop a particular skill, but they definitely are nowhere near as interesting as the side quests.

The wilderness is relatively empty, but its a good place to find herbs and animals.

In comparison to the game's settlements, the wilderness is wide and lonely. Unlike the wilderness in an Elder Scrolls games which is full of monsters, treasure, herbs, shrines, dungeons, and what not, the wilderness in Kingdom Come: Deliverance feels empty in comparison. Sure, there are herbs to pick, bird's nests to plunder for eggs, animals to hunt, and very rarely bandits or poachers who may try to kill you. Occasionally you might run across the remains of an ambushed wagon or something like that, but in general the reason you are outside of town is because you are travelling between locations, or you are looking for herbs or hunting.

I spent well over 40 hours on Kingdom Come: Deliverance, which for me is about how long I spent playing comparable open world games like Risen 3, Fallout: New Vegas, or Kingdom of Amalur: Reckoning (according to my Steam clock). So, you can probably gather that a completionist could invest a lot more time in the game.

The view of lower Uzhitz from from upper Uzhits is breathtaking.


Presentation                

I'm not sure what this game's budget was, but to me it felt like playing an AAA game. The graphics are beautiful, the game has nice music, and the voice acting and narration is top notch. The game features a few large-scale battles which Henry takes part in and these are quite impressive. There is no other way to describe them. The story is narrated with cinematic cut scenes, reminiscent of The Witcher 3, and the dialogue is impressively animated.

No, this is not a cut scene, but actual gameplay of Henry taking part in a siege.


Other Concerns

Like many modern games, Kingdom Come: Deliverance had a rocky launch. It was released with a number of bugs, performance issues, and an unusual save system.

I started my playthrough at the beginning of October, so about 7 months after the initial launch. I ran into one minor bug. At one point the uniform of a generic NPC inside a small hut began to flicker back and forth. That seems rather par for the course these days. I never had a noticeable gameplay bug, or any other glitch which I noticed.

The game ran smoothly on my system. I have an i7-8700 processor and 8 gb of ram. Loading times on my computer were noticeably shorter than those of Pathfinder: Kingmaker, or Battletech, which I played parallel to Kingdom Come: Deliverance.     

The game saves automatically either when you exit, when you sleep in a bed, or at the start or end of certain quests. Also, in some longer quests the game saves when you accomplish a certain step. The only frustration I had was when I was fast travelling and was ambushed on the road. You theoretically can also save anywhere with a consumable called savior schnapps. You can buy this at a tavern or brew it yourself using the alchemy skill. Savior schnapps is actually rather easy to brew, as the two ingredients are easy to find in large number. However, you need both the reading and alchemy skills, neither which you start the game with, and you need to know what the herbs look like and where they usually grow. You are given a fairly generous supply of savior schnapps early on in the game, but at some point, that will run dry if Henry doesn't brew or buy more.  

While handmaking every potion is beautiful to watch, it can become time consuming and repetitive.


Summary

I came into this game somewhat skeptical how much I would like it and came away being very impressed with it. It does have its weaknesses. It is at times repetitive. Doing certain tasks also take a fair amount of real time, which not everyone might have patience for or consider good gameplay. The side quests and tasks aren't the strength of the game either. However, a strong main quest and the attempt to make a game that at least feels historical and tries to impart a little of what life in medieval Bohemia was like, carried me through the game. I also felt, while it might not be the best open world RPG I've played, it was something fresh and different in theme and atmosphere, if not in game play. That's something I really appreciate. So, if you've got a computer that can run it, and you don't have something against savior schnapps, I'd suggest giving Kingdom Come: Deliverance a go.

Box Art

Information about

Kingdom Come: Deliverance

Developer: Warhorse Studios

SP/MP: Single-player
Setting: Historical
Genre: Action-RPG
Combat: Real-time
Play-time: 40-60 hours
Voice-acting: Full

Regions & platforms
Internet
· Homepage
· Platform: PC
· Released at 2018-02-13
· Publisher: Deep Silver

More information


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Summary

Pros

  • Unusual setting
  • Well designed main quests
  • Well executed story and mechanics
  • Excellent voice acting
  • Beautiful world

Cons

  • Weaker side quests
  • Practicing skills can get tedious
  • Wilderness a bit empty

Rating: Very Good

A very good game that is just short of being excellent, because of one or more minor issues that reduce the level of enjoyment a little bit.

Review version

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