My lords and ladies, today I will be telling you a tale of a kingdom divided. Of betrayal and revenge. But this is no Dungeons and Dragons, this is based upon real events and places that existed in our very world.
Kingdom Come: Deliverance is a medieval role playing game , developed by Warhorse Studios. The project was funded via Kickstarter back in 2014 and raised a whopping £1,106,371.
Set in the year 1409 in Bohemia – now the Czech Republic – the land is in turmoil as the King has just died and his old kingdom is now being advanced upon
Now this isn’t all just an interesting backdrop. This affects the character you play, as the game begins with your village being wiped out and a world ravaged by civil war.
While it is an RPG, you’re put in the role of a ready made protagonist instead of a character you build and name like most other notable entries in the genre, and this isn’t a bad thing.
Much like The Witcher, it means you’re more connected to the game’s world and feel more involved with the story. You can see the influences and parallels to Elder Scrolls titles like Skyrim and to TV shows like Game Of Thrones , not just in the medieval setting but in the dark tone.
You step into the shoes of Henry, the illiterate son of a blacksmith living a pretty ordinary life in the dull village of Skalitz. Henry’s world is forever changed when an army rapes and pillages through his home, murdering all of his loved ones. This sets up his desire for revenge.
Instead of just showing you what happened in a cut scene, the game starts you off doing little errands in the village before the army strikes and you have to try to escape, making for a more visceral experience.
Graphically the whole thing looks great and utilises the CryEngine to devastating effect – making a world that is both beautiful and believable.
It’s played from a first person perspective with no option to switch out to third or a rotating camera. Trying to stay faithful to the era, your field of vision is limited due to your helmet but there’s also a small heads up display to help guide you.
Environments in this large open world are incredibly detailed and yet have a realistic feel to them. The castles and landscapes are modelled on their real world counterparts, so sometimes it’s fascinating to simply look at how people used to live …and then go into their houses and steal everything you can from them.
Objects and clothes even suffer wear and tear, with outfits taking damage or getting smeared with blood, which in turn affects how other inhabitants react to you.
Character models, while not perfect, do a good job of looking alive and engaged as opposed to the dead stares of people you meet in games like Fallout and Skyrim.
I did notice a few minor glitches in the PC version I played, such as clipping and people (along with the odd cow) falling from the sky, but they were infrequent and I just took them as a hint from God, telling me to go to the nearest tavern.
The music is what you would expect from a medieval-set game but also shifts to epic, orchestral scores during battles. The script and voice acting is impressive with Tom McKay playing the protagonist, and the game even features the legend that is Brian Blessed.
There’s plenty of challenge to be found, and while Kingdom doesn’t hold your hand there are waypoints, a map and objectives to help keep you on track.
Some events are scripted to happen at certain times with or without you, and missing them can often have consequences.
In another added touch of realism, you’ll have to manage Henry’s needs for sleep and food. Beware of getting too drunk and eating spoilt food!
You’ll often feel like you are walking around a living breathing, world with people going about their day, doing jobs and heading to the pub in the evening only to toddle home drunk and be pickpocketed by me before they sleep it off.
One potentially dividing aspect is the odd way Kingdom Come: Deliverance deals with saving the game.
Keeping your progress relies on drinking ‘Saviour schnapps’, a boozy tipple that’s limited in supply. I found this very reminiscent of save points and ink ribbons from the early Resident Evil games.
There are also autosaves, but without the ability to save and load on a whim you are forced to really think about the consequences of your decisions, such as whether to take on combat.
Speaking of combat, the fighting is challenging and not the typical ‘left click to murder someone’ affair. It’s far more subtitle and nuanced. The system is reminiscent of Middle Ages-style action game Chivalry, with you selecting directions to slash and stab while remembering to dodge and block. That said, melee combat is slow, requiring high precision. I normally just aim for the face.
Henry is not a one-man army and can be bested if he’s not careful. There are buffs you can apply and some weapons and armour that are better suited to certain situations. Due to the lock on system, fighting multiple enemies can lead to some frustration as there is often very little indication of where they are attacking from.
There are ways to stack the odds in your favour, like poisoning the enemy, stealing their weapons while they sleep or just stealth killing.
There is also a standard XP system, as what RPG would be complete without one? (I’m looking at you Zelda!)
Levelling up provides perks and bonuses that improve your skills or give you the ability to last longer without food.
The skills are interesting and balanced, but I haven’t found any yet that give me any huge advantages.
If all of the swordplay gets too much, you can also dabble in lock picking, pickpocketing, haggling, using a grind stone and alchemy – all of which have their own skill-based mini games. In most other titles these are so simple a drunk toddler could do them. In contrast, Kingdom’s are surprisingly tricky to master.
Overall, I found Kingdom Come: Deliverance to be an innovative, breathe of fresh air. It has a different pace to Skyrim but if you don’t mind a challenge and can master the skills, it offers a complex and well crafted world with a great story that’s not just interesting to history buffs but appeals to all RPG fans.
Platform: Xbox One , PlayStation 4 , PC ( Steam )
Price: £39.99 – £44.99
Release date: February 13