Kingdom Come : Deliverance - Critique
During my first hours of play on Kindgom Come: Deliverance , I got beaten up by drunkards. After 70 hours of play, I now face a trio of bandits with a smile, knowing full well that they have no chance against my blade and the intensive training provided by the most powerful knights of this beautifully recreated medieval world. Confidence that I don't just owe to better stats or even more powerful gear. Without using any magic spell or sword, Kingdom Come managed to make my transformation, from a simple ball to a real bloodthirsty killer, fully enjoyable.
Studio Warhorse's tormented and vengeful tale shines most in the way it reproduces the difficult daily life of a Man in the Middle Ages. Not only does the game incorporate survival mechanics such as hunger and fatigue, but your character's appearance also influences how NPCs perceive you. The most telling example is the way your clothes get dirty as you explore the game world. A sloppy allure that nobler NPCs are sure to criticize.
This aspect forced me to take baths, wash my clothes and go to the tailor regularly, in order to make a strong impression in front of the people I passed. Keeping clean is far from a chore. Public baths are easy to find. And there is always the possibility of taking a dip in a water point to cool off. And this system of appearance is not limited to that. If, for example, you want to be discreet, wearing clothes that don't make noise when you move and that are black in color - handy for blending in in the dark - reduces the chances of being detected by enemies. Much like walking into an inn covered in blood, sword in hand, is an effective way to intimidate people without having to say a word.
All of this takes place in much of the medieval kingdom of Bohemia. A decor that is teeming with details and shelters many historical winks, something which makes this space even more realistic. Cities, farms and makeshift camps are logically animated and above all built on a good scale, unlike cities in other standard RPGs, like those in Skyrim , designed to appear large when in reality they are not. We also go from one zone to another without any loading time - unless you opt for the fast travel, something which is still appreciable in open world games.
However, many bugs tend to interfere with the immersion of the game. There are quite funny bugs and ultimately not very restrictive in an open world game like this one - like an innkeeper whose head is briefly missing . Others, on the contrary, are much less fun, because they get in the way of the gameplay. It is not uncommon to find yourself in front of a staircase which, like Gandalf in front of the Balrog, refuses to let you pass, or even to cross walls by magic and end up getting stuck between two invisible walls.
To make matters worse, some quests in Act 2 and 3 sometimes have script issues or don't display any markers (when they should). This forced me to load more than once a save that I had made a little over an hour before, and to take a different path during my mission to avoid a bugged area. These issues are not uncommon in such ambitious RPGs. But the frustration associated with these worries here is heightened by the fact that the only way to save is by either sleeping in an inn or brothel, or drinking some type of alcohol that is sold head-to-head. Automatic backups are oddly rare. The game rarely crashed, but when it did, autosave forced me to replay much of what I had just accomplished.
But let's give back to Caesar what Caesar is, the actors, sets, and textures are fantastic with no shortage of little details - but be aware that a powerful config is required, in which case you won't be able to appreciate that level of quality. In addition, the PC version (the one I played on) is not particularly well optimized. To maintain a stable framerate in all situations, I was forced to reduce the quality of the graphics, to a point where some NPCs and objects were permanently visible while others, more detailed, disappeared after two seconds, even when I was close to them. This did not fail to surprise me, especially since my PC (Core i7-4770K / GTX 1070) can run The Witcher 3 fully and smoothly.
Luckily, the fights are lively, precise and well finished. The progression is demanding, but the more I participated in the fights, the more I took pleasure. The developers of Warhorse have indeed found the right balance between a realistic and practical combat system. The sword clashes are well paced and reward technical mastery, speed of mind and above all patience. In the end, I got the same feeling as when I learn to master a new shooter or a real time strategy game. My character has become an opponent that should not be underestimated because I managed to master the fights, and not because I increased his power exponentially.
This realism extends to the kinds of compromises you have to make in choosing certain equipment. A mechanic that brings a strategic dimension to the gameplay. Armor, for example, is expensive to maintain in addition to being heavy. Clearly, a skinny hero can put a cross on wearing a full set. Full face helmets protect you from headshots but limit your field of vision and make fighting against multiple enemies difficult. So more often than not, I would choose the equipment that best suited the situation, rather than the one that offered the best stats. Another area where Kingdom Come differs from standard RPGs.
Some parts of the combat system don't always work, however. I never really managed to master the fine mechanics of archery. Fortunately, the game never forced me to use this weapon. Clashes on horseback seem to have been integrated into the game at the last moment. It's functional, but Warhorse clearly did not spend a lot of time polishing these face to face mounted, something oddly ironic when we focus on the name of the studio [Warhorse = combat horse in French, ed]).
The story, on the other hand, is raw, captivating and complex, despite the over-pronounced use, at times, of old-fashioned medieval clichés. The Cumans, a Turkish nomadic population originating from the steppe of Eastern Europe, are among others represented both as a foreign people, a guarantee of change of scenery, and as ruthless soldiers in the vein of the Stormtroopers of Star Wars. The characters in the game never miss an opportunity to describe them as a "savage" and "barbaric" people - an image that the natives of Bohemia were probably to spread at that time. Unfortunately, the plot never takes the time to explain the reasons for these fiery tensions (all the Cumans I came across were literally impossible enemies to reason). The result is an overly Manichean vision of the complex relationship that this nomadic population had with the inhabitants of the Kingdom of Bohemia.
Aside from that, Kingdom Come offers a successful recreation of the medieval era, thanks to a high level of detail and extensive research on the subject. What's more, the game manages to offer a small-scale adventure, an approach that works quite well. I thus solved various problems on the sidelines of a large conflict that revolved around two enemy brothers wishing to seize the throne - an exotic context since it is for once not a question of saving the planet, such as this is often the case in traditional RPGs. One of the quests that struck me the most took place at a Sunday mass during which I had to recite a sermon by the religious reformer - and one of the fathers of Protestantism - Jan Hus after spending the night drinking with the priest. local, finally too drunk to start his service himself. I had a good laugh throughout this well-written and pleasantly light streak amid the other more brutal and unpleasant activities of the medieval era.
I also keep in mind an intelligent and gripping quest which asked me to pass myself off as a Benedictine monk in order to find a criminal hidden in a religious community. To blend in with the community, it is necessary to participate every day in morning and night Masses, but also to work in the scriptorium. In short, the job of a monk. The feeling of disorientation clearly diminishes as the days go by, but you feel so involved in this quest that you feel like you're part of a full-fledged mini-RPG. You can even influence the vote of the next abbot, search for the pages of a lost manuscript, or even cut off the fat with a few monks. When I finished the quest, I almost felt like I had forgotten what it was like to live in the outside world, which, on second thought, was pretty cool.
Other memorable moments in the game would also include time spent with a priest playing Hus and Doctor in his library of medical books, as well as trying to save a village from a deadly epidemic. In such situations, knowing how to read is a superpower - many nobles were illiterate at that time. Moreover, learning to read is one of the major abilities that I unlocked, as if I had learned, in other types of role-playing games, my first magic spell or recovered my first lightsaber.
The quests are finally rather varied, inspired and effective, even if a little less talk would not have been too much. During the first act in particular, the pace was quite slow and I felt like I spent more time reading dialogue than exploring the game world. If the voices are generally good, listen to all these characters. talking, rather than going for a walk in the regions of Bohemia and redecorating them with the blood of the bandits who live there, can quickly become painful.