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Kingdom Come : Deliverance Review - Deliver Us From This Evil

The western RPG genre has produced some of the best titles over the years such as The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim and The Witcher series, but now from Warhorse Studios and Deep Silver we have Kingdom Come: Deliverance which opts to give a more realistic approach compared to the games that have come before it.

Kingdom Come: Deliverance is the latest release from Warhorse Studios and published by Deep Silver. Lauded as an action-RPG experience set in the Kingdom of Bohemia during the Holy Roman empire, this Kickstarter success story strives to bring you a historically accurate and immersive experience while taking inspiration from other games in the genre to provide you with some tight functional gameplay. Does it work?....ehhhhh....sort of?

Kingdom Come: Deliverance drops you in the manure scented boots of Henry Von (I don't have a last name), the son of a talented blacksmith in a silver mining town, hungry to see more of the world. The game begins with the backstory of King Wenceslaus (Yes, the guy from the song) and his half brother Sigismund of Luxembourg, the man who had him imprisoned away from his people to vie for power over Bohemia through a brutal and bloody conquest. The burning of his village and murder of his parents before his eyes is the impetus for Henry to set out on an epic quest of vengeance, redemption and loyalty to his king. That's honestly all I can give you in terms of story without ruining the whole thing, as this is a particularly long game.

Now with a game of this magnitude comes with gameplay that matches it's size, however the functions that are present can be seen as amazing or the worst thing ever. The point of view is entirely first person and while this may work fine for some, I genuinely felt suffocated at times.

Other than that, the standard fare in an RPG has you taking on quest after quest to further your own goals and improve your characters statistics and abilities. This is an area that Kingdom Come: Deliverance certainly doesn't slouch in as the character development system is deeper than the darkest abyss, everything from an alcohol skill tree to horse riding to learning how to read - everything has an effect and can be improved.

The biggest flaw in this game for me however is that as in depth as it is, the games tutorial system barely lets you scratch the surface aside from a quick screen of text and some arrows in the early goings. There is system after system after system in this game and they've taken some old school influences from here, think a less fantastical Morrowwind, with even more systems and stats thrown on top.

A feature this game is trying to push is character maintenance as food and sleep meters affect your character's behaviour, speech and combat ability, as well as what he is wearing and whats on it - I'm serious, dress like a knight, everyone spills their information to you, dress like a peasant and your particular brand of 'eau de dung' will have them shooing you away.

The combat system in this game revolves around something I have never seen done perfectly in any game - first person melee combat. Imagine someone had rammed a camera through the neck of a knight in "For honor" and you've got an idea of how this combat system works. Sidestepping, blocking and countering from different angles with varying levels of power lead you to knock your enemy off balance and insert sharp metal into them.

Again, I get they're going for realism, I get they're going for faithful combat, but my god I found the fighting boring, especially once you pick up a set of armour, most people can't even scratch you anymore - stamina has to be depleted before damage is applied to your character and once you've obtained a full set you could stand there and write dirty limericks until the cows come home because the aggressive fella with a knife can't so much as scratch you.

A game is only as good as the world it is set in and the ways within it to entertain yourself, there could be a thousand ways to do each quest and find each hidden macguffin, but without a regular set of hints to at least give players an idea of what to do they will inevitably end up in what I like to call RPG Hell; charging face first into every NPC in the area desperate to find someone who had more dialogue than "You can trade with trader guy, he's over there" .

Immersion is what keeps an RPG strong, it separates the Final Fantasys from the Daikatanas. If done correctly, immersion could make a mediocre game into a good one based solely on the world it is set in and how interesting it is to learn more about it. While great effort is taken in this game to be faithful to the historical period it was set in, to keep to it's customs, designs and layout, I was never truly immersed in this game - why you ask? Glitches. Glitches everywhere from NPC's hovering five feet in the air, to our own CaptainCortez's memory of a character he was gambling against disappearing, leaving him to roll dice with a talking bush to steal all of its leaves for himself. This is not an optimised game, my horse got stuck in a wall at one point.

Graphically the game is a mixed bag as well, the environments are rendered well and once you're out into the world you can actually spend a good amount of time on horseback taking a slow saunter through Medieval Bohemia, what I take issue with is when other NPC's show up. For the most part animations are beautiful and fluid for the other main characters in the game, however for NPCs and Henry himself, they seem slow, unnatural and clunky, something as natural as sitting down or picking up an apple is jarring, as the aforementioned first person view can jerk your view around when your character snaps to an object. 

The sound design in this game is actually pretty good. Everything feels authentic, from the *shing* of an unsheathed sword to the *twang* of a loosed arrow, there are no complaints there, every musical queue is set well to draw you in and not once did I find myself resenting it or turning it down.
For all of the complaints I've levelled against it, we still are presented with an in depth and functional combat and character system, a full story and sprawling world in Kingdom Come: Deliverance. Problem is, I have no idea whats in it and the game does not balance exploration and reward to a point where I want to explore every inch.

Kingdom Come: Deliverance is not for the casual RPG player, it is for the players who yearn for menu after menu of customisations and perks, to forge their own character out of nothing and draw them to greatness, and anyone can do that in this game, its true. The aforementioned lack of tutorial and direction is what holds this project back, it's as if the designers knew where everything was supposed to go and what quest was next on the list but didn't feel it necessary to share that information with us. Before anyone says "Oh you just want the game to tell you everything" - No, not everything, but how to craft the items that are required for me to save my game, I do expect. (Yes, you need items that are limited to do a save).

There's a stigma nowadays that "Games are too easy". No, games are not too easy, they have changed with the times, there are plenty of RPGs that don't hold the players hand, but through the game design and pacing, subtly point the character to the next step of their journey. There's 'hand holding' and theres 'bad game design'. While ultimately it's a little disappointing when I play this game and think of what it could be, Kingdom Come: Deliverance still puts together something that is trying to do something different, to create an immersive and historically faithful world and experience. It is my solemn hope that they continue to patch and polish this game, to make it what it truly can be, before all that though, give me a hand - my horse is stuck in a wall again.

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