Written by James ‘Judge’ Hayward
Released: 13th February 2018
Developer: Warhorse Studios
Publisher: Deep Silver
Platforms: PS4, Xbox One, Microsoft Windows
Genre: Action RPG
Reviewed Platform: PlayStation 4
Warhorse Studios promised us a realistic take on the middle ages, to which they achieved. Rich with history, new and exciting challenges at every playthrough, and twists in the story to captivate the player from start to finish, Kingdom Come: Deliverance delivers.
Henry, Skalitz peasant and town blacksmith’s son, embarks on what can only be described as a tragic and beautiful story to maintain his late father’s honour and reclaim the last sword they ever made. Players must escape the clutches of a massive invading force to his hometown, survive the harshness of 1403 Bohemia – the middle ages, and rise up in the ranks under Sir Radzig Kobyla, Knight, and appointed Lord of their beloved Skalitz.
Firstly, an exquisite soundtrack from Jan Valta and Adam Sporka, they really help achieve the tone of the time and setting in KCD. Not to mention, the great sound effects, from the chirping of a bird to the flapping of a flag atop Talmberg’s battlements – each small detail here helps capture the raw experience of the middle ages. This is coupled with amazing historical knowledge; the Codex, accessible by tabbing across from the inventory, is a marvel in itself. Reading through this alone takes some time and shows just how much care the Devs put into the game’s context. Players get a real sense of background from what they see in Henry’s world, and in the written history of their own. This is doubled down on with the compulsory first person view, offering only further immersion.
Moreover, playing through the story in KCD was like watching a film I have wanted to see since a young boy. There is a combination of macho bravado – digging your heels in and making a stand, and deep, meaningful segments that trigger softer emotions. The game starts slow and patience is most certainly a virtue here. Just as a man in nothing but slops and a tattered red scarf would struggle in these dark times, so do you. You must help Henry push through his trouble and strife and, if you do, you are rewarded with plot twists and entertaining character development. A personal favourite of mine is Sir Hans Capon – the insatiable prick that he is, and the irreplaceable friend that he becomes. Not only this, but the gameplay is on a constant rise, paralleled with Henry’s own progression in social stature. While a bandit or two might be challenging to face at the beginning, you will slowly warm to the combat and, before long, find yourself in in the midst of climactic siege sequences towards the end. Honestly, these are some of the most immersive segments of battle I have played, and well worth the hours you put in prior. Just make sure you practice with Sir Bernard to ready yourself for some grueling action!
However, KCD is riddled with bugs. We shan’t dwell on it and it isn’t unplayable, but it cannot be ignored either. Be it NPCs overlapping or disappearing entirely, items or buildings popping up suddenly, or the game freezing, there are too many that disrupt the gaming experience. It is understood, and noted, that what we have here is an ambitious game spearheaded by very talented individuals, and hats off to everyone involved, sincerely. But we are checking out the entire package. That means graphics, story, gameplay and mechanics, sound, everything that makes up the gamer’s experience being taken into account. We MUST acknowledge that we are at the pinnacle of this generation’s capabilities now and the standards are higher than they have ever been. Despite this, it does not take away the fact that this is a great feat from Warhorse Studios, and a game well worth playing. I found that simply resetting the application returned the gameplay to normal. This shouldn’t be necessary of course, but it was an easy solution and only necessary twice in all my 80+ hours of play.
Right, the bit that always interests me: character customisation. Levelling and character progression is extensive, diverse, and provokes multiple playthroughs, as mentioned already. There are 9 core attributes, 4 of which include individual perks to select, enhancing Henry in one way or another. Agility offers 6 different perks to choose from, be it ‘Light Armour’ to allow for easier manoeuvring in combat, or ‘Perfect Throw’, increasing your luck when throwing dice in the minigame. Which, by the way, is stupidly addictive considering how simple a game it is! Vitality has 9 perks in total to choose from, Speech has 7, and Strength boasts a whopping 11 different perks. With that in mind, each playthrough offers variations of walking the same path. And, it does not end there, not by any means. There are 10 more attributes, or ‘Skills’ to upgrade, each, again, with their own strand of perks to select, each targeting a different aspect of Henry’s ability or way of life in the game. Customisation matches that of some of the greats, and is fun in its own unique way.
Final score. 8/10.
The only reason I haven’t gone higher than this is because, as I have already mentioned, the high standard of this current time. In the last 2 or 3 years, there have been some tremendous benchmarks made. Achieving 8/10 is fantastic, and I for one am hooked. I haven’t finished with this game, not even close. Someone once told me to ‘give it a go’ and, by the gods, I am glad that I did.