Kingdom Come: Deliverance is a game which flew well under my radar. Coming from a lesser known developer in Warhorse Studios, which Kickstarted the title back in 2014 and was funded to the tune of £1.1 million. It’s a title I, most likely at the time, thought would be underwhelming at best. Oh, how wrong I was.
To be honest, it was a tweet from publisher Deep Silver (shown below) which really made me curious about the game and upon investigation, I discovered that, as a Skyrim fan, I was missing out on the type of experience which usually makes me sit up and take notice.
An accurate review of Kingdom Come: Deliverance pic.twitter.com/oC9RNCvyhD
— Official Deep Silver (@deepsilver) February 19, 2018
Kingdom Come: Deliverance is not a Skyrim clone. There is no fantasy here. No magic, no Elves, Dragons or Dwarfs. Instead what you are presented with is a large, sprawling open-world RPG based in a medieval setting. A game which relies on a strong story to draw you in, although that’s not to say it doesn’t do other things very well too.
During the game, you play as Henry, the son of the head blacksmith, who as we join the game, has been tasked with helping his father to forge a sword for the local Lord, Radzig. Based in Skalitz, Bohemia in 1403 and in the middle of war thanks to the imprisonment of King Wenceslaus IV by his brother Sigismund, it was never going to be long before trouble kicked off, especially since Lord Radzig is an ally of Wenceslaus IV. This of course means he’s an enemy of Sigismund, which is why after a nice day of wandering around the local village, it isn’t long before Henry is met with an army of Cuman and Czech soldiers under Sigismund of Luxembourg’s control, who are ready to attack and raid Skalitz, killing everyone in their path. This results in Henry having to flee to the castle, although he doesn’t quite make it, instead, being redirected by the guards to go and warn a nearby village and so his adventure begins.
One of the first gameplay mechanics you are introduced to in Kingdom Come: Deliverance is the combat and this is an area which will likely make or break your love affair with the game. There’s no tutorial here, instead, the developer just throws a fight at you and makes you learn on the job. Combat is certainly a strange affair, using a combination of the analogue sticks and an onscreen prompt to allow you to choose which direction you will attack from. Blocking works much in the same way too. When fighting, be aware combat takes into account your character’s stamina, so it’s wise to take a step back now and again to catch your breath, otherwise, you might just find that you’ll end up knocked out cold or worse. Thankfully you can make combat a lot easier should you take advantage of the training areas you’ll find sprawled throughout the game. Kingdom Come Deliverance is an RPG at heart after all, so practising certainly helps.
Another area of combat which is difficult to get to grips with is archery. You’ll first encounter this early in the game as you go hunting for some hares. Again you are thrown in without much direction, but as with combat, there are many archery ranges to be found within the game, so it’s well worth putting the time in here, as the rewards of becoming a better archer will certainly aid your progression through the game.
If there’s one area I really don’t like its the lockpicking and pickpocketing mechanics. The lock picking is very awkward on a console, with you having to find the sweet spot with one analogue stick and then rotate the other. This is more difficult than it sounds, making it next to impossible (for me at least) to actually open anything you shouldn’t be. The pickpocketing has you holding down a button to start (although not for too long as you’ll be caught) and if successful you’ll have the same amount of time to see what’s on the person and take it. At the time of writing it seems the developer agrees with us that both these areas need work on console and a patch will be released to make it easier, so that’s good news.
What’s great about Kingdom Come: Deliverance is how realistic everything seems to be. For instance, if you wear a helmet with a slit across the eyes then your view will be restricted. Should you not bathe, then people will view you differently, as they will depending on the clothes you wear. All decisions have consequences too; Yes we hear that many times in gaming, but here it is true. For example, in one mission I was to investigate a mass murder and ended up going to see a priest, who happened to have some information. After a heavy night of drinking he convinced me to take his sermon for him, unfortunately, I dithered about for too long and missed it and after that, he wouldn’t talk to me. After searching around I found some more leads which eventually saw me in a potion shop, looking for some oil I needed to source in order to finally get me the information, unfortunately though, I bumped into the shop guard, ended up in the big fight and was then killed, setting me back about an hour as the save system then sent me back to the last checkpoint, which was just before I was supposed to give the sermon. This time I took the sermon, got the information I needed and took a completely different route. I could give you many examples of how some of the decisions I have made changed the face of the story, some good for Henry and others not so much.
It’s fair to say Kingdom Come: Deliverance offers up a huge, sprawling open world which is just as fun to look at as it is to explore, however, don’t expect too much drama on your travels. Sure, you’ll come across areas of interest and the occasional side quest, but most of the time your travels will be drama free. You aren’t going to wander into an angry dragon or anything like that, more likely it’ll be a wandering bandit, although even this seems to be fairly rare.
Most of the time you’ll focus on the strong story, which has Henry doing his bit for the cause. This often involves detective work, infiltrating enemy camps and even a little sabotage, but throughout you’ll have some hard decisions to make, some which will be for the greater good, but may not feel like it at the time. You’ll also have plenty of enemies to deal with, so like I alluded to earlier, it’s probably best if you put the practice in.
As with any open world game, Kingdom Come: Deliverance isn’t without its issues. You’ll find a few bugs here and there, although I’ve not really encountered anything game breaking as of yet, most likely because I have been playing after the release of two pretty substantial patches. My main issue comes with the save system, as you cannot save the game on the fly. Instead, you either need to have a special potion which you buy or are gifted to save on the spot. Otherwise, you need to sleep in your own bed (the one you have been assigned or paid for at a tavern) or finish a main quest. This can cause issues if you have spent an hour on a quest only to get killed and have to start again from the last checkpoint, as per my earlier example and obviously, this is not ideal*.
*At the time of writing the developer has promised to at least patch in the ability to save your game before you switch off, so this will solve some of the issues with the save system.
Kingdom Come: Deliverance may have been in development for quite some time, but it still manages to take wonderful advantage of the latest technology. The environments all look stunning, giving you plenty to look at when on your travels. The facial animation and AI behaviour also impressed me a lot. When you’re talking to an NPC they are always quite engaging, while it’s also impressive just watching them go about their day, often sitting outside a tavern drinking, doing the laundry or in the farm tending to the crops.
At the start of this review, I said “Kingdom Come: Deliverance is a game which flew well under my radar,” well skip forward to now and I can tell you Kingdom Come: Deliverance is my game of the Year so far. Sure it’s not perfect, with many glitches and an odd lock-picking and pickpocketing mechanic, but it’s the sum of the parts, rather than some of the parts, which makes Kingdom Come: Deliverance a great game.