Starting life as a Kickstarter campaign, Warhorse Studios managed to amass a huge amount of money to invest into building their dream. This dream was a true Medieval RPG. No magic, no mythical monsters or races, and set in 15th Century Europe in a place known as Bohemia. As an Indie outfit, this was a huge task at hand and eventually, publisher Deep Silver stepped in to assist in proceedings. Could Warhorse Studios actually achieve their dream of making Kingdom Come: Deliverance a reality, and bring a brand new RPG to the masses? Or would Henry remain lost in the wilderness for the rest of his life, and become largely ignored for more popular series of games? Let’s find out.
Kingdom Come doesn’t boast a huge map to explore, and in a way, this works to its advantage. Having a huge open world is great, but if as a developer you fail to include enough content to flesh out the world, gamers will be quick to notice how empty it is, and in turn become bored and abandon the game. The balance between content and world size needs to be addressed early on to make sure that there’s enough to do and keep interest in the paying public. Warhorse, in my opinion has pretty much nailed this. I wandered the land by foot, as this is always my preference in an RPG, and there was always something for me to find. Whether it be a bandit camp, a town where I could meet the locals and hopefully endear myself to them, hidden treasure chests, and more. You are never far from something to involve yourself in, and for that, I salute the developers for making sure that the balance was near on perfect.
The story begins with the obligatory tutorial, with you assuming the role of Henry, the son of a Blacksmith who is given some tasks by his father, and during his rounds, meets with some friends. The choice is yours from the word go, and you’re more than happy to continue on with your job, or take part in mischief with said friends. The fact that you can immediately choose your path shapes the game in a way that alters how others perceive you, and this is a feature that fails to make a huge impact in other RPG’s. Going back to the tutorial, it’s worth noting that it’s not a case of the game giving you instructions on what each button will do and then be on your merry way, oh no. In Kingdom Come, you are taken through a linear part of the beginning of the story which can take around 4 hours and lays the foundation of the remainder of the campaign to avenge your loss. I won’t go into too much detail here, in case you’ve been waiting to play it.
A change from the normal tropes you’d find is that Henry isn’t in any way a super hero from the get go, no super human powers or strength, no military background, no supreme calling either. He’s just a normal young man who has a Blacksmith for a father living in a small town in Central Europe. As such, all his skills that you can work towards levelling up and this becoming more adept at, require you to put in the hard work to reach said competence. Want to wield a sword? Fine, you can, but you’re more than likely going to look like you’re wielding a feather duster first before you can strike and parry like a soldier. Fancy being able to pick a lock containing valuables? Sure, but first you need to find the right man to teach you the very basic motor skills required to actually pick your first lock. You see where I’m going here, right? Henry is about as much use as a wet paper bag at each and every skill when you first begin, and his naivety and lack of knowledge is obvious. But what I really found to be a great inclusion, is that to read a book and gain valuable information, you have to learn how to read. Yes, that’s correct. Henry is illiterate and needs to pay a visit to a scribe who will teach him. A slow process and some may wonder why this is included. But 500 years ago, only scholars and men of the Church would have the reason to be able to read and write. Warhorse wanted a true and believable RPG, and boy did they get this right. Or should I say write? Excuse the pun.
Quests. There’s plenty of quests in Kingdom Come, and you have a log in which to keep track of them. Handy, isn’t it? Well, changing the pace once again, Warhorse have made some quests time sensitive. What’s that? Well, leave a quests too long and the person who issued you the quest may become tired of waiting and end the chance for you to complete it. Not all of them, as this would break the game. A new feature for me at least, and an interesting addition.
Reputation goes a long way not only into the real world, but also in Bohemia. Work hard at helping citizens of a town, and they’ll like you more. Go around stealing from them, or worse and naturally they will take an instant dislike to Henry. If you must carry out naughty actions, then at least make sure your stealth skills are of a high disposition so as not to get caught. But why would you want to be a naughty Henry?
Yet another inclusion that rarely makes an appearance in an RPG, is having to take care of sleep deprivation and hunger. It’s the Hardcore option that’s available in Fallout New Vegas, and more often than not, mods available for PC gamers. But here it is as part of the base game, and while it can evoke feelings of frustration, it’s a manageable inclusion and will soon become a normal part of gameplay.
Kingdom Come May be a fantastic game, yet it’s not been without its host of bugs and weird instances that have broken the immersion. During my play time, Warhorse have been hard at work not only acknowledging the issues gamers have been faced with, but also addressing them with several patches already. Some bugs have been amusing, as they’ve seen Henry fly up above the world, while others have seen game breaking issues and preventing advancement of the story or just the usual camera positioning during conversations. It has seen negative press due to these issues, and while it’s easy to say they should QA test the game, these issues do happen within games, especially when they’re huge open worlds. But on the other side of the coin, it has raised concerns with the bugs that have required people to start over again, frustrated at losing progress. I can safely say that bugs of this magnitude haven’t hampered my time with the game, but not being able to walk up a flight of stairs has proven annoying, and the occasional misplaced camera during conversations and cut scenes have cropped up now and then.
For a first time effort, the graphics are of a high quality, and while some facial animations and raw distances can be quite noticeable, the countryside and architecture of buildings are nothing short of amazing. Not quite the same standards of The Witcher 3, but they’ve done a mighty fine job of creating the game world and there’s some beautiful countryside to explore. The soundtrack, oh that soundtrack is stunning. At times reminding me of the score created by Jeremy Soule that was featured in Elder Scrolls IV, and it was an auditory pleasure. Never did I become bored of listening to it as it played along Henry smiting the local bandits, wandering the countryside or heading towards the local towns to engage with the population. One of the finest pieces I’ve ever heard.
The controls feel a little over sensitive, which when you’re trying to finely adjust your position to pick a lock, or even harvest some flowers or herbs, becomes a test of patience as finding the hit box is fiddly at best. Now onto the combat. This is one aspect of the game that’s raised more than a few eyebrows. Unlike say, Skyrim, you ant go into battle swinging our sword until something dies. It’s more of a fine art to wield a sword than swinging it around like a lowly thug. Patience and tactics play a pivotal role in combat, and knowing when to strike, parry and dodge becomes an integral part of gameplay. Sounds daunting at first, and yes it can be when you’re surrounded by several foes. But once you’ve acquired some good armour and weapons, you’ll soon be intimidating enough to scare the good Lord out of everyone you face.
To finish, Kingdom Come is an exceptional debut from Warhorse Studio, who despite the teething issues have been hard at work to iron out them pesky bugs to give us the game they envisioned several years ago. Future content will one day appear, and for now I’m happy to keep playing until they’re ready to release more DLC. There’s no rush, and I’d rather wait until is ready. There’s been a steep learning curve for them, and I’m sure that they’ve taken feedback and learned how to make sure that bugs get omitted. Not a job I’m envious of, having spoken to developers in the past. So, is Kingdom Come worth a purchase? Definitely. The patches are inbound, it’s a unique game among all the other RPG’s out there, and you’d be supporting a fledgling developer. I for one can’t wait to see what they future brings from them with regards to DLC and maybe more new games. Get out there and support the game, and while it may not be perfect, it’s still a damn good game that offers dozens of hours of game play.
Overall Score 8/10
Developer: Warhorse Studio
Publisher: Deep Silver
Release Date: 13th February 2018
Xbox One copy provided for review purpose.
Available on Xbox One, PlayStation 4 & Steam