The last few years have seen no shortage of open-world fantasy successes, with the likes of Witcher III, Dragon Age: Inquisition and even Skyrim breaking the usual genre stigma. Yet, all of these emphasise the fantasy part of the experience, with magic and monsters a-plenty. Described as ‘Dungeons & no Dragons’ by its developer, Kingdom Come: Deliverance is set to subvert this.
Set in Bohemia, you play as Skalitz, a blacksmith’s son who lost everything to an invading army. Pledging your service to Lord Radzig Kobyla, your task is to rise through the ranks and avenge your parents’ murder.
The game’s greatest strength stems from its depth. While it features branching quest-lines along with avoiding the usual chosen one cliches, there is an astounding attention to detail. Your appearance and actions significantly influence social interactions. Show up to a fist fight armed with a sword and people are going to recognise that, as will those who see you carrying a bloody weapon. This isn’t simply a good-bad ratio, as there are a few beneficial outcomes born of this.
The game is littered with small moments which helps truly bring it to life. Dark clothing will hide you at night, and this isn’t simply judged by some artificial stat. Keeping food for too long will cause it to spoil, while sleeping might allow you to save your game but will raise your hunger upon awakening. You will often find yourself caught out on moments other games instinctively let slide for genre conventions or ease of storytelling.
The combat, however, can easily be divided into two halves. Melee engagements are notably clunky, rough and costly. This fits with the setting and there are moments of the AI displaying surprising brilliance. The same, sadly, cannot be said of their competence in the face of bowmen, and you can easily find yourself winning engagements at range.
Furthermore, there are a substantial number of bugs and glitches still found within Kingdom Come: Deliverance. You might find yourself bumping into characters who fail to register your presence, or even cannot fight back despite the established situation. Clipping is hardly uncommon, and the only thing which offsets these issues is the fact that Warhorse Studios is releasing regular post-release patches.
Kingdom Come: Deliverance is undeniably janky, and yet its willingness to subvert traditional genre expectations is commendable. It’s comparable to the original Witcher, where the experience is flawed and yet its ideas have an undeniable charm. If you can forgive a few performance problems, this is a great game with an emphasis on realism. Definitely give it a look, but consider just what irritates you the most about open world games before purchasing this one.
KINGDOM COME: DELIVERANCE / DEVELOPER & PUBLISHER: WARHORSE STUDIOS / PLATFORM: PC, PLAYSTATION 4, XBOX ONE / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW