Thursday, December 6

Kingdom Come Deliverance Review

I played on: PS4
I paid: £54.99
Available on: PS4, Xbox One, PC
Notes: N/A

Kingdom Come is a game with the sensibilities of old school CRPGs like Wasteland or classic Fallout with the graphics and presentation of newer RPGs such as Skyrim or the Witcher 3. Similar to early Fallout nearly everything you do matters. The level of detail in this game is sometimes jaw-dropping. Popular YouTuber Nerd3 stated that Kingdom Come is the game that Skyrim wanted to be. I agree with him but there are clear influences from games like Mount & Blade in there as well. From the Medieval European setting to the importance of class and social standing Kingdom Come proves it’s more ambitious than a simple Skyrim clone. Sadly, however, all of this potential is crushed by bugs, glitches, game crashes and good old-fashioned prejudice.

You start your story in the 15th century, Bohemia, which is now the modern day Czech Republic. You’re a peasant called Henry, the son of a blacksmith. Of course, according to video game clich√©, your hometown is burned down and your parents murdered in front of you. This is boring, overused and just lazy in terms of video game plots. Kingdom Come does improve after this weak opening. The story soon finds you getting taken in by Sir Radzig Kobyla and trained by his men. Unlike games like Skyrim, this story is rather linear. You can’t change the outcome of events, being a simple blacksmith’s son doesn’t allow you the power to do so.

What you do have control over is how you complete the tasks set before you by your Lords and Ladies. If you are well spoken, dressed and clean then you can use your silver tongue to complete a lot of objectives. People will take you less seriously if you’re covered in mud and/or blood or have tattered clothing. Visiting bathhouses or using a local trough will help keep you and your laundry clean. You can also stick to the shadows and creep around in the silence of night in order to knock-out and kill foes. Then there is good old fashioned violence for when things go wrong. Bloody swords will scare most common folk but bandits and soldiers will fight back. This leads to the combat which is fun but clunky. When you make it past the learning curve this is an enjoyable system but it’s not an easy one. The buggy and glitchy nature of the game makes the combat all the more cumbersome. While not a perfect system it does improve over the mindless flailing of Skyrim.

History is no excuse for prejudice and this is something Kingdom Come has a real issue with. Everyone is white and heterosexual. Their exists no cases of homosexuality which is inaccurate for the era. While the act of sex between two men was not allowed during this time, men were still most likely romantic with each other. King James I and IV of Scotland and England was one of history’s most openly gay men and he was around during the medieval era. I will admit the extent of romantic relationships between men is up for debate but what isn’t is homosexuality between women. It was perfectly okay for women to freely partake in both romantic and/or sexual relationships with each other. Due to the extreme sexism of the era sex was thought of as an act that was only possible with a man. This meant that women being romantic and/or sexual with each other was not even thought of as ‘sex’ back then and as such was common.

I say all this because Kingdom Come makes a point to be as historicity accurate as possible. But only with certain points. The creators didn’t look into this part of the history or the fact that although people of colour would have been rare they would not have been unseen. Humans have always moved around the globe and as such there have always been mixed populations. Yes, there would have been prejudice but that doesn’t mean no people of colour as we see in this game. While maybe only around 1% of the population of Bohemia would have been non-white that is still part of the population that this game ignores. Kingdom Come uses inaccurate historical realism as an excuse to exclude people of colour and the LGBT community. Yet they ignore the historical fact that everyone would have been speaking Czech or Latin but instead speak English in the game. There is not even an option to have the characters speak in their correct tongue with English subtitles.  This shows who they were willing to bend the 'historical realism’ for. As normal in the gaming community, it’s English speaking white men.

What Kingdom Come is really good at though is it’s world building and immersion. This is a world that feels steeped in details and history. NPC’s will hide under cover from the rain. Villagers will gather at the local tavern in the evenings. People will get undressed before they get into bed as well as talk to each other and generally go about their lives. If you are told something is urgent then people won’t wait around for you. Unlike most games, you are not the centre of this world and that feels great. All of these details and changes from existing gaming traditions help create a beautifully immersive world. That makes it all the more off-putting when you fall through the floor or see textures, outfits and entire buildings pop in a few meters in front of you. It’s not uncommon to get stuck on a flight of stairs, shallow river or bush. I’ve had the floor swallow me up and grassy hills throw me into the air as well as walls and guards allowing me to phase through them. To say this game is a bit buggy is an understatement. Outside of all of the other issues, I have with this game, as well as all the stuff I love about it the thing that kills it is these bugs and crashes. I got 18 hours into the game and now it won’t load after a conversation with a captive bandit I was questioning. That’s it, 18 hours and I can’t get any further in. I could restart but I don’t want to have to replay almost an entire days worth of content to get back where I was and maybe have the same problem.

Kingdom Come is an ambitious game and one that can be a lot of fun at times but with a few big issues. Ignoring people of colour and the LGBT community from the history it tries so hard to teach players about is horrid. The bugs are off-putting at best and game breaking at worst. I very well might return to this game in a year or so and re-review it because by then the bugs may be fixed. As it stands now in 2018, however, it’s a mostly broken mess.

Recommendation Rating: 3 out of 10.


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