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Kingdom Come: Deliverance Review in Progress - Our Thoughts After 25 Hours

From IGN - February 13, 2018
By TJ Hafer

[Editor's note: Because we did not receive Kingdom Come: Deliverance for review until late last week and it's estimated to be a 50-hour game, our review is still underway. We are aiming to have it completed and scored by the end of the day on Thursday, February 15. In the interest of hitting that goal, we are keeping these impressions brief.]

Ive put around 25 hours into Kingdom Come: Deliverance so far, and Im finding plenty to be impressed by. The large chunk of wooded, medieval Bohemia across which the bloody and dramatic story takes place shows significant attention to detail and is filled with little historical touches that help it feel like a real place. Towns, farms, and logging camps are all laid out with a strong internal logic and built on a scale that makes sense, as opposed to the standard RPG city in a game like Skyrim thats designed to feel large, but really isnt.

The open world isnt always as open as Id like it to be. Ive run into a number of areas with invisible walls where it looks like I should be able to jump up onto a rock ledge, but am stopped from doing so by an immersion-breaking barrier. Theres also a fairly common tendency to use impassible hedgerows to prevent me from sneaking up on a bandit camp or other objective, though that at least seems consistent within the setting. If youve ever been out in the deep woods, youll know that getting from A to B as the crow flies isnt always practical.

Combat has a significant learning curve, but Ive found it to be a lot of fun the more Ive gotten the hang of it. Most of the times developers have tried to create a realistic first-person melee system, the result has been the next best thing to unusable. But Warhorses designers seem to have struck the right balance here: sword fights have a nice tempo and reward technical skill, quick thinking, and most of all patience, but dont feel cumbersome or incomprehensible. While my character does level up and gains new perks, I feel like the main thing allowing me to take on tougher enemies is that I, the player, am learning new techniques and progressing toward mastery of the mechanics. And in cases where Ive found myself outclassed, a good majority of quests have a nonviolent solution.

The story up to this point has been gritty, engrossing, and complex, though it tends to fall back on some old-fashioned ideas of medieval historiography in a couple of places. The focus is very small-scale. I find myself solving problems in the margins of a larger conflict involving two half-brothers competing for the throne, which is actually kind of refreshing in the wake of so many fate-of-the-world adventures. The stand-out quest so far has been a Sunday mass in which I had to recite a sermon inspired by contemporary Czech church reformer Jan Hus - an important predecessor to Martin Luther and arguably the real father of the Protestant Reformation - because Id gone on a drunken bender with the local parish priest the night before and he was too hung over to do it himself. I laughed the whole way through, and it was a nice bit of well-written levity among the often brutal and unpleasant business of medieval life in wartime.

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