Review: Kingdom Come: Deliverance (PS4)

Review: Kingdom Come: Deliverance (PS4)

Platforms:

  • PlayStation 4
  • Xbox One
  • PC

Platform/Hardware Used:

  • PSN Download
  • PS4
  • HDTV

Extras:

  • DualShock 4 Required (1)
  • Move None
Flag_of_the_United_States.svg
Title: Kingdom Come: Deliverance
Format: Blu-ray Disc / PSN (50.66 GB)
Release Date: February 13, 2018
Publisher: Deep Silver
Developer: Warhorse Studios
Original MSRP: $59.99 (US), £54.99 (UK)
ESRB Rating: M
PEGI: 18
A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review purposes.
PS Nation Review Policy

Gameplay:
Kingdom Come: Deliverance is an open-world RPG set in Bohemia (modern day Czech Republic) during the early 1400s. Warhorse Studios was keenly focused on historical accuracy which adds a touch of late Medieval simulation to the proceedings, something the game lives and dies by.

It makes a great first impression for history buffs. I am starting a grand new adventure, there’s a decent story cutscene to start things off, and the game slowly introduces new historical events, people, and cultural aspects.

Throughout my time I spent a hour or two in the menus just reading about people and events that surrounded the game, which even led to a couple of deep Wikipedia dives.

You’ll jump into the life of a young peasant named Henry. He’s just an average Joe, not the chosen one from a prophecy or someone with magical powers awaiting to be awakened. His dad is a blacksmith, he has a girlfriend, and his parents give him trouble for staying out too late with friends. Skalitz is a small, peaceful town where Henry drinks and jokes with the town guards.

When danger does come it’s not really a surprise that Henry is not much good with a sword. Over time the player becomes better with the weaponry, a sword and a bow, and there are some tutorials along the way to help. Still, it takes time. Even when the deer are not moving it was hard for me to take them down with a bow. It took much longer than I expected to level up to where the strain of pulling back an arrow does not cause your aim to sway all over the place.

Striving towards realism appears to give game great depth, but ultimately it falls flat. Even the combat initially feels deep but the controls aren’t tight enough and not executed well or fleshed out. It requires some precision. To land a hit, my sword had to come in from a direction that could not be easily blocked by the attacker’s sword or shield. I really like this approach and it made sense when training, but it never felt right in actual combat.

There are a number of different systems in Kingdom Come: Deliverance that may feel overwhelming at first but it doesn’t take too long to feel like you have a grasp of things. The issue is the lack of in-game feedback.

I’ve never really thought about my character’s appearance in a game before and how that affects my interactions with the NPCs. It makes sense that interacting with a high end merchant or noble might go better if I don’t smell like a horse stable or if I’m not covered in blood so I went to a bath house, bathed, and had my clothes laundered.

On the way to the next town to see a merchant I was involved in a skirmish and killed two men. I had no idea how that would affect my interactions with the merchant. I didn’t even know if I was dirty now or not. Social status was a very important thing in the early 1400s but the system does not feel fleshed out. It may impact my persuasion in one conversation but it felt largely un-impactful throughout the game.

Many of the systems also feel kind of pointless. Henry has to eat and sleep but the systems are so minor it made me think “Why did they even bother?”. I got a Trophy for going two days and nights without sleeping since I was questing and not even aware it had been that long.

I was constantly wandering in and out of towns so access to food was never an issue, but eating was annoying at times. The game constantly warns about the debuffs of overeating or going hungry. In the menus though, the game only provides X out of Y in hunger. I wasn’t close to the max so I ate a few loaves of bread and suddenly I had seriously overeaten.

There are perks for not overeating or going hungry for so many days in a row. When I’m eating dinner, I know I am still hungry but another chicken breast is too much so I should just eat half. The only way to find these limits in the game is to let Henry starve, check the hunger stat, then eat a small item one at a time until you have overeaten.

There are other systems as well but overall it feels like the focus on realism stood in the way of creating a fun and interesting experience. Not that an emphasis on realism can’t be fun, but it has to be done right.

For instance, this is an open world game but the world feels empty between the towns. In my humble opinion, in any open world game, the player should be able to place an icon across the map and never reach the intended destination because they keep getting side tracked along the way.

I understand there were no dragons or caves full of demonic witches in Bohemia at this time, but there needed to be something besides the occasional bandit who would attack you on the side of the road. There was nothing to get lost in, no reason to explore. Nothing to do but beeline it to the next town.

How the game progress is saved is unusual as well. There are auto saves upon completing major checkpoints in missions, saves when sleeping, and from save potions. You’re is given three potions to start the game but any more must be crafted or purchased, and they aren’t cheap. While this seems like plenty of options, they’re buggy and the auto saves where very inconsistent.

I was most of the way through a long mission and decided to stop by a close city to complete a side quest I had be wanting to do, then I finished off the main mission. I died trying to kill some bandits and the game had never saved during the many stages of the main quest or after completing the side quest. I lost over seventy minutes of progress. What open world game doesn’t let the players manual save when they want to? All of this could have been avoided.

The combat is supposed to be challenging. Out of fear of losing all my progress for the night, I experimented very little with the combat. It would have been fun to try to take down a few bandits around a camp in different ways but I was afraid to risk the sixty minutes I had invested into this mission.

The real nail in the coffin for me is all the technical issues. Despite the 23 GB day one patch, it’s still a fairly buggy game. At least once when I used a saved potion it didn’t actually save the game. For most of the game, it would not even save when I slept.

Henry lost out on a chance for love because the lady’s father was stuck walking in circles and she could not get out of the house for our date. I quick traveled away so I could ride back and try again but that caused me to fail the quest and there was nothing I could do.

A number of times characters would get stuck in dialogue loops repeating the same lines four or five times in a row.

I picked up my PS4 at the midnight launch but have never had any controller issues. With Kingdom Come, “R2” just doesn’t work. A quick Google search revealed that many other people where having similar issues.

My horse disappeared. I whistle and it’s nowhere to be seen, yet I can still transfer items back and forth between my inventory and the saddle bags.

I missed a major cutscene because the video and audio never played. I have been eagerly waiting for the resolution to this story arc and if the subtitles had not been on I would have completely missed it.

This last one is probably not a bug but bad design. I was on my way to speak to a prisoner. After entering a small town, I found out this would not be a straightforward mission. The warden told me I had to do something before he would allow me to speak to the prisoner.

Instead of triggering the next object in the mission, it started a side quest that had to be completed before the main mission could be continued but no new icon appeared on the map. I was pulling my hair out for two hours trying to figure out what to do before I accidently discovered the side quest in the quest journal.

Visuals:
This is a great game to take some screenshots. I would often stop and scan the horizon, taking the time to enjoy the valleys and castles sitting atop a hill.

Once you start moving though, the graphics start to fall apart. The framerate was never great but it only got worse the longer I played. At some point, it felt like the game gave up trying. The quick travel is by no means quick and the game loads once you reach the destination.

Still, after quick traveling to a location, I would just stand there and for over ten seconds watch the various buildings load in followed by roofs and then wall textures. The first time this happened, there was no bridge and I was confused because I couldn’t cross the bridge to enter the city. By the time I realized what was happening the castle popped in but had no walls.

Audio:
The game does have beautiful orchestral music. I’m not sure if the music was triggered or it was just coincidence, but a number of times it would crescendo as I was coming over the crest of a hill.

Online/Multiplayer:
This game is one player only with no online component.

Conclusion:
Kingdom Come: Deliverance is full of some very interesting ideas. Unfortunately many of the systems could have used a little more time in the oven and do not feel fully integrated into the game.

There are a variety of technical issues such as the game crashing and framerate. This made not being able to manually save so much worse. It’s bad enough to die and lose all the progress you’ve made, but to be near the end of a mission and have the game crash destroys the will to keep playing. Most nights felt like two steps forward and one step back.

A big open world game like this is a big time investment and Kingdom Come simply does not respect the player’s time.

I really don’t have many positive things to say about the game yet there’s something that makes me really want to like it. I do hope the developers get a chance to make a sequel and refine many of their unique ideas. A sequel could really be something special but this current version is a hard pass.

Score:
4.0

* All screenshots used in this review were taken directly from the game using the Share functionality on the PlayStation 4.

Flag_of_the_United_States.svg

Flag_of_Canada.svg

 

Written by Matt Engelbart

Matt Engelbart

I love all things video games. When I am not gaming I am watching the Kansas City Chiefs and Royals, BBQing, and reading.

Twitter Digg Delicious Stumbleupon Technorati Facebook