Developer: Warhorse Studios
Publisher: Deep Silver
Release Date: February 13, 2018
ESRB: Mature / PEGI 18
Available Platforms: PS4 [Reviewed], Xbox One, PC
Kingdom Come Deliverance is a weird game to review. From anything I have played, this is one of the hardest to put a score on. After the first 5 hours I would have given it a 2/10 but I’m so glad I kept playing because it’s much more than that. I put in 200 hours and went on the finish the story and explored the various side quests/side activities the game has to offer. It’s one of those games that the more you play it, the more you will like it.
Still, it is a game of stark contrasts in quality. On the one hand, a strong story and immersive lore are combined with an enthusiastic game world and deep role-playing mechanics. It has all the makings of a 10/10 role-playing game when you look at the trailers.
But when you actually get to play it, you can’t help but feel dumbstruck by the outdated graphics, odd game mechanics and sheer number of game-breaking bugs.
The game is set in 15th century Bohemia. It aims to be historically accurate and ultra-realistic. This promise is absolutely kept, on an obsessive level I might add. The area in the game is based on the real world and was remodeled with obsessive detail. The game portrays how life was back in the middle ages. Everything about the gameplay is super realistic and that’s what makes it so interesting.
Your character is Henry. His journey starts in the village called Skalitz which is soon being raided and Henry has to escape. His goal throughout the game is to get revenge on the attackers. The cutscenes are done with great detail and interesting to watch because of the realism factor and they are visually appealing.
Character designs look good. The sheer amount of characters, voice actors, clothing and dialogue options is mind-boggling. You can talk to literally every NPC in the game and each one is uniquely designed and has a different voice. So much work went into this, and at such a low budget from a new studio, their dedication has to be applauded.
Your characters look can even affect the dialogues. If you have blood on your shirt and weapons you look more scary and people can be persuaded with violence more easily. If you look charismatic and wear tidy clothes people might give up different info more willingly. Your speech stat also plays a big role. It’s interesting that your character & clothes actually get more dirty and bloody over time so it starts to affect interactions with other NPCs. This is some deep role-playing-stuff right there.
The game consists mostly of talking and investigations for other people. Do not expect a fighting-centric game. It never got boring though. Even though you talk a lot to people, the fact it’s based on history and is so realistic kept me curious. And just like mentioned, the dialogues are really well done, with lots of different options to persuade people (or fail to persuade them). Depending on how successful you are in dialogues the quests can take on completely different paths. In case you end up in a fight, there are quite many weapons to pick. There are blunt weapons (bludgeon, mace), axes, swords, shields, bows. You can also take a stealthy approach and do silent takedowns.
That’s another thing I absolutely love about the game. Each quest can be played in so many ways. As I wrote my full main quest walkthrough, I did 3 playthroughs of every quest to try out different paths and my readers kept finding completely different ways still. There is a certain freedom and realism to it, and it goes to show the complex creativity these developers have. You can play however you want. Talk your way out of a fight, convince someone to open a door for you, steal a key, pick the lock, pay someone off, kill someone, let someone live, knock someone out and carry their body away, pickpocket someone etc.
There are countless ways and if you fail to persuade someone there’s always another way to finish the quest.
The game is very massive overall. According to a developer video there are 115 quests/activities in total. Personally, I saw 80 quests after 200 hours of gameplay but could not complete some of them due to game-breaking bugs, infinite loading screens, quests failing for no reason etc.
It’s without a doubt the most broken game I have ever played. Nonetheless, it still has a lot going for it. You just need to be able to look past the bugs and glitches. The graphics ain’t pretty either (it looks like PS3 graphics) but you get used to that after the first few hours. I myself am a bit of a graphics nerd and tend to be drawn to games that are visually appealing. I haven’t played a horrible looking game in a while (which KCD definitely is) but this game proves graphics aren’t everything.
I find it extremely positive that the game doesn’t take you by the hand. Other games are just running from point A to B to go from one quest marker to another. This is what AAA gaming has become. Kingdom Come revitalizes what makes gaming fun: to figure out things for yourself. Often times there are no quest markers to an objective at all or you just have a general search area. At first, I will admit, I found this annoying. Having to search big woods just to find a camp of charcoal-burners kept me riding around for an hour. But if that proves anything, it’s just how AAA games have spoiled us with their easy-peasy-don’t-use-your-brain quest markers. This feels much more rewarding and when you find those darn charcoal-burners you will be happier than if you went to a silly quest marker. This is what makes gaming fun for me, and a large reason why I ended up liking the game.
There are tons of game mechanics that also annoyed me at first, but make the game more immersive and realistic. Such as cooking your own potions at alchemy benches for example. It feels so weird that a game makes you read recipes and cook something. It’s not the “press X to craft” you know from other games. But it’s also kinda cool to learn all those deep RPG mechanics. From bleeding to food poisoning, constantly having to eat & drink to stay alive – to falling from your horse when you ride against something – those are all annoying at first but that’s what sets this game apart from mind-numbing games for the masses. Heck, you can’t even walk through thick bushes in this game nor can you heal yourself mid-combat, but you probably would not do those things in real life either.
There is a shadowy side to it all though. As pointed out, the bugs and technical side are real draw-backs. I don’t know if some developers just took on more than they could handle or if they ran out of funds. Either way, they should have taken a bit more time to polish things up a notch. When several quests cannot be completed due to serious bugs and the completion of other quests leads to your save games being corrupted, you clearly haven’t done a good job at QA (Quality Assurance / Game Testing).
For a Low-Budget Kickstarter Game with $1 million in funding, this is still a big feat when you look at the sheer size of the game. It’s one of the biggest RPGs in recent years and when they fix up the mess of bugs it could be something really beautiful.
I dearly hope there will be a part 2 of this. But please, Warhorse Studios, polish it up before you release it. With a million copies of KCD sold already, you now have the funds you need.
- Cinematics look very good, have nice music and detailed character designs
- Deep lore, a lot to discover
- Soothing music, lots of different themes.
- The voice acting. So many different characters and voices.
- Detailed and good looking NPCs (also the facial expressions). Even small side characters such as beggars on the streets have the same detail as other characters.
- The sheer number of different NPCs in the game. I never saw the same character design twice. Plus you can talk to all of them.
- A lot of dialogue options with a lot of different outcomes.
- Deep dialogue system. Many things affect it (your different stats, how you are dressed, how well you are groomed, if you look dangerous, dirty, blood stains on your shirt, reputation within a village/town).
- Huge map, lots of villages/towns/castles to visit.
- SO MUCH CONTENT! It’s unbelievable that a low-budget Kickstarter game has become this massive. Not quite as big as Skyrim, but close.
- The freedom to tackle quests in different ways and play how you want, so many ways to finish each quest.
- PS3 graphics, not like a 2018 game (note: cutscenes look great though).
- Low-quality textures.
- Lots of texture pop-ins.
- Long loading times.
- Fast travel is not fast at all, takes minutes from one end of the map to the other.
- Bad UI, there should have been a mini-map.
- The only UI navigation-element you see on screen is a compass, but the quest markers are poorly shown on it. Could’ve used an arrow icon pointing up or down. I constantly had to run in circles around buildings and check every floor to find the target because I did not know if it was above or below me. A mini-map with up/down arrow would’ve saved me tens of hours of aimless searching.
- Many bugs/glitches in general, some are a real hindrance in quests. I often had to reload old saves or change methods because the main path glitched out.
- Getting stuck in certain parts of the map, unable to get out (especially on horse)
- When reloading a save game inside a house, it has happened that I got locked into the house (which wasn’t locked when I made my save)
- Sometimes NPCs don’t spawn in at all or randomly disappear as you approach them
- Couldn’t talk to some quest NPCs, the prompt to talk to them never showed
- Houses to quest givers are often locked at night. I don’t mind it for miscellaneous NPCs, but why for quest givers? Such a burden to wait every time.
- It rains inside buildings, I even had a bridge disappear under my feet and I kept walking in the air (tons of graphics glitches)
- Weird static water (when walking through puddles of water there are no splashes and the water never moves)
- Quest markers didn’t show up on my map (rebooting the game fixed this)
- It has happened that certain overlays (quest rewards, tutorials) stayed permanently and wouldn’t go away. Had to reboot game and lost a lot of progress because of it.
- Not enough auto-saves during quests, when you die you can lose hours of progress.
- Infinite loading screens (happened to me during archery contest for Lady Stephanie & at end of Cherchez la Femme quest, causing it to be incompletable)
- Textures not loading in
While I have great respect for the developers to pull off such a big game on such a small budget, reviews must be based on cold facts and objectivity, not sympathies.
There are too many bugs and unpolished pieces to give it anything more than a 7.5/10 overall. My recommendation is to wait a few months, maybe pick it up over the summer, because right now it plays like an Alpha version.
KCD is a game of stark contrasts. The cutscenes, story and lore are phenomenal yet the game is unpolished, has outdated graphics and is very buggy. If you can turn a blind eye on those things it’s still a game worth playing that has a lot of content to offer.
Reviewed on PS4 Pro. Played over the course of 3 weeks from Version 1.00 – Version 1.2.5 (Patch 1.04). Played for 200 hours, finished story, wrote a full Walkthrough, saw most of the side quests, played every quest 3 times to try different paths, tried all of the side activities once, wrote a full Trophy Guide.
Game bought at own expense, no review copy was provided. For more on how reviews are scored, check out the Review Policy.