For those that know me well, you know I have always been a gigantic fan of fantasy and/or medieval RPG’s. I’ve been fascinated with swordplay, archery, jousting, and the lifestyles of those that lived through the middle ages. In fact, aside from certain aspects usually involving medical conditions, I would love to try and survive in a medieval world. Games like Skyrim and Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning do a great job of intertwining both the medieval lifestyle and fantasy tropes into the mix. But what happens when you want something slightly more realistic? What games exist that offer you realistic sword fighting, the need to eat and sleep, and showcasing what it might have been like to live in a world where everything was medieval in nature? The answer to those questions is Kingdom Come: Deliverance.
Kingdom Come: Deliverance is a game released on PC, Xbox One, and Playstation 4. It was released on February 13th, 2018 and was developed by Warhorse Studios. It is rated M for Mature due to Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, Nudity, Strong Language, Strong Sexual Content, and Use of Alcohol.
Kingdom Come: Deliverance is a completely open-world roleplaying game that puts you squarely in the shoes of a young blacksmith’s son named Henry. The beginning of the game is actually a relatively slow experience. It works like many other games where you’re forced into menial tasks with simple fetch quests to help facilitate a “training tutorial” for how the game works. You learn simple things like how to run, move, look, swing a sword, and choose dialogue options.
One gripe that really turned me off in the early part of the game was the unrelenting cut scenes that happened every five minutes. Don’t get me wrong; I genuinely appreciate well done voice acting and animation in cut scenes, especially when it provides good exposition and story telling (like the beginning of this game did). But after a while, you start to grow increasingly tired of the cut scenes and lack of things to do that have substance.
Once you power your way through the beginning aspect of the game, you then gain the freedom to go and do as you please. I will be doing my best to avoid providing any real plot points from the game as I would like this to be completely spoiler free.
The game works on a system that I thoroughly enjoy. You start out knowing absolutely nothing. You don’t know much, you don’t know how to do much, and you’ll find yourself overwhelmed in more than one instance. Want to talk to that guard to persuade him to look the other way for that bread you just snatched? Too bad, you’re a peasant. See a thief stealing from a helpless woman and try to stop him? Too bad, you can’t fight. Want to buy that simple and cheap set of armor from the armorsmith? Can’t afford it so get used to those ragtag clothes.
It that regard, the game is highly realistic. You are a genuine peasant with nothing more than the world at your disposal. So you decide to take a few fetching quests. You find a guy that offers to teach you how to fight. After a few more quests, the nearby royalty starts to recognize your deeds and will then offer you money in exchange for jobs. Soon after that, you can finally win a fist fight and buy a sword to defend yourself. You’ve talked to enough people and now your speech has improved. You’ve got enough money to afford that gambeson and leather tunic to help protect yourself. Maybe you even learned to read and write.
Much like other RPG’s, Kingdom Come allows you to level skills in varying subjects. You can raise skills in individual weapons (shortsword, longsword, mace, axe, hammer, bows), horsemanship, speech, persuasion, lockpicking, stealth, charisma, alchemy, and more. Certain level apexes will award you with perks that unlock further opportunities to use those skills for different reasons.
As an example, I recently unlocked a perk that either gave me 20% bonus damage when I was within a city territory OR I could choose 20% bonus damage when out in the wilds and nowhere near a city. Because I tend to do a lot of fighting when out traveling between locations, I chose the damage when out in the wilds.
The game is flush with quests and opportunities, and unlike most other RPG’s, your actions and decisions in the quests have consequences. You chose to kill the target rather than just stealing back the item? The NPC will become angry that you killed him and refuse to talk to you anymore, thus taking away the other three quests he could have offered you. You decided to try and intimidate the bandit instead of persuade, it failed, and now you have a whole camp attacking you and offering money for your head. Every decision you make does not constitute different endings to the game or any kind of significant repercussions on the story, but it changes what your character will have available and how people treat Henry throughout the game.
Another aspect of the game I thoroughly enjoyed learning was the combat system. Warhorse Studios brought in actual experts in the field of combat from the 15th century in order to provide a realistic fighting experience in the game. At the beginning, you get in a few fistfights or scraps with a sword, and your character knows nothing. You either get lucky or you lose. The system is designed to have five points of attack (laid out like a star in the middle of the screen where your targeting system is). I played on PC, so you have to move your mouse to a certain direction on the star in order to attack a certain spot on your opponent or block an attack coming from that direction. After a few fights, you can visit a trainer that will teach you how to parry, riposte, and counter attack. He’ll teach you how to do combos (which can also be unlocked by leveling up the skill in each weapon) and how to grapple and win the grapple. You genuinely start out knowing how to do nothing and eventually, after tons of practice and employing it in actual fights, you get better at fighting. I use to avoid fights in the beginning because my character didn’t know anything and I was struggling to win fights. As time went on, I got better and better, unlocked more combos and learned how to parry and riposte correctly. After that, I would actively seek out fights sometimes because of how much fun they were.
But then you get into a battle where you and your compatriots are storming a keep and trying to overthrow the occupants. All of the fighting goes out the window as your screen becomes filled with dozens and dozens of men fighting in up close skirmishes where it becomes difficult to distinguish friend from foe. That’s when you decide that you woke up that morning and chose chaos. I had tons of fun playing out some of those large scale battles.
The charisma aspect of the game is very interesting and hard to master. Your reputation in certain areas will affect how people perceive you. Your appearance also plays a heavy role. Blood on your sword from a recent fight? That looks bad and people may not trust you. Have some dirt on your clothes because you were just out in the forest hunting deer? People might think you’re lower class and not respect you. Your shiny breastplate has a dent in it from a recent fight against a bandit camp? You’re so poor you can’t even afford nice armor, so I’m not going to pretend you can’t even afford to be in my store. Your cleanliness, armor quality and condition, clothing quality and condition, weapon, horse, and things you’re carrying on you all affect talking with other people and how they perceive you.
One of my personal favorite aspects of the game lies in your ability to do mundane tasks. I actually enjoyed hunting deer for meat and skin. I thoroughly enjoyed the alchemy aspect of the game. Instead of just picking a recipe, gathering the materials, and clicking “craft,” you have to follow certain steps, heating up the cauldron in specific orders for specific amounts of time, grind up ingredients, and more. It actually feels like you’re brewing a potion. I also enjoyed just unlocking the entire map by exploring, finding books to read to improve your reading, and picking flowers and weeds for alchemy ingredients.
Everything in the game feels rich and deep enough to provide beauty and lore to the world. Instead of just a random outcropping of rocks, everything felt like it had a specific purpose and reason for being put in the game.
As somebody that has always been a lover of video game playing and not so much on the review descriptions, it’s hard for me to explain the fun I had with this game without going into a play-by-play retelling of my playthrough. I recently beat the main questline for the game, finished a few side quests I hadn’t gotten around to yet, and started on the DLC (there are a few, some better than the others), and I’m currently clocked at around 100 hours of game time. It could have been much more, but I did rush through a few parts of the game that I didn’t enjoy that much. However, now that I’ve beaten the game on the standard difficulty, I’m very much looking forward to trying my hand at Hardcore and seeing just how much better I got after playing the game all the way through.
Love, romance, disease, royalty, swordplay, bandits, fortress attacks, trebuchets, taverns, inns, gambling, hunting, smithing, alchemy, medieval environments: everything you need to climb into the shoes of a 15th-century peasant.
Kingdom Come: Deliverance is nowhere near the best game I’ve ever played. I also heard that it was filled to the brim with bugs upon its original release. I still came across quite a few bugs while playing it, but nothing was so game breaking that I became frustrated or shut off the game. Instead, I found myself glued to the screen as I made my way through the beautiful countryside in 15th-century Bohemia. I became heavily invested in Henry’s story as it’s filled with vengeance and a need to be or do something greater. I loved the realistic combat, layers of armor that might have been worn during that time (especially your screen giving you extremely limited vision when wearing anything with a visor), the skills, and the overall story.
If you want the realistic feel of a medieval world while not trying to play on a difficulty so hard that the realism becomes TOO real, give this game your love and attention. I received the game as a gift on Steam, but I would gladly spend money on this beautiful experience.