Kingdom Come: Deliverance review - between Gothic and The Witcher

Author: Przemysław Zamęcki
Date: 2018-02-13 09:00:00
The review was based on the PC version. Also applies to PS4, XONE versions

It took a man of great faith to see a sample of Kingdom Come: Deliverance by the Czechs from the Warhorse team to see more than just a cluster of bad ideas. Above all, the chaotic mechanics of fighting with melee weapons resembled a blow in the air for kindling. It had nothing to do with Geralt's elegant pirouettes, dashing blows, and in no case rolling under the opponent's feet to be able to stab him with the tip of the sword between the shoulder blades.

The witcher's circus performances had to go away, because the creators had a completely different idea. Their intention was to move into a virtual space of duels, which will show in the most realistic way possible how our ancestors fought centuries ago. And while in the beta all this functioned in a very, let's say, controversial and catastrophic way, in the full version some of you will fall in love with the profession of armored cutters . If you just grit your teeth tightly and learn the action of the next combos. The rest will find another job or a way to survive in the dangerous Bohemia Anno Domini 1403.

From the very beginning, the creators argued that they planned to create an RPG without all this fantastic entourage, which seems to be indispensable in this genre. It is true that the history of the computer games industry knows similar cases, but they were lost in the mists of history and the work of Warhorse becomes something absolutely unique compared to the competition.

Although the Czechs have been our close neighbors for centuries, we know little about their history. We associate the wife of Mieszko I Dobrawa, a few films and series, the so-called the Hussite trilogy by Andrzej Sapkowski, Dobre Wojaka Szwejk , the creators of the ArmA series and the song Bohemian Rhapsody (he, he). Okay, maybe it's just me who is so limited, but it's all the better, because to this modest arsenal from the Vltava River there is a new rocket in the form of Kingdom Come: Deliverance .

Henryk the Hero

In short, a good king dies. He is succeeded by a lazy and dissolute king with little interest in the state. The powerful ask for help from another king, who takes advantage of the situation and begins to plunder Czech lands. You will learn the details from the very cool intro designed in gothic style and the game itself, and we only need to know that soon after the "quiet village, happy village" only ruins will be burned, and the war will haunt the area where our hero grew up.

Henryk, the son of a blacksmith, is young and inexperienced. He wants to learn to fight with a sword, but it fails him. He uses his cleverness and skills to settle accounts with his neighbors, while hanging around in the not-too-bright company of local hooligans. But when the time of trial comes, he takes up arms and fights. Less for the cause and more for the sake of medieval loyalty and personal vengeance. A classic zero-to-hero tale served here in a historical sauce.

Although the game operates in an open world, which we discover as the plot develops or at our will, up to a certain point the whole thing is very linear and does not allow for a decent jump to the side . This is a great move on the part of the authors, thanks to which the fun does not lose momentum for the first few hours, constantly throwing us new challenges and teaching us various mechanics.

The great advantage of the game is the quality of dialogues, especially in the beautiful cutscenes that are part of the main storyline. The texts are very natural and concern not only the most important matters related to our hero - they do not lack interesting digressions and in most cases you do not feel artificial or false note on which the screenwriter unnecessarily played. It is clear that in the game itself they are limited to the minimum and when we talk to a tanner about his son, the old man does not get into unnecessary discussions and has a clear message for us, but also thanks to this approach, conversations with NPCs do not go on mercilessly.

I didn't like Henry himself at the beginning as the main hero. He looks like a peasant-prince definitely gains on closer acquaintance. Mainly thanks to his participation in cut-scenes, when his sly smile and tendency to party are more noticeable. Do not miss the opportunity and have a drink in one of the taverns with a local priest. Unless you want to finish the game with the trophy for not participating in sexual adventures, but I can assure you, it's not worth it. The longer I played, the more I liked the boy, so if at the beginning you didn't like his behavior and his simpleton, don't be discouraged.

Bohemia, AD 1403

The presented fragment of the Czech state consists of a dozen villages and castles where local authorities reside. The rest of the area is occupied by farmland and wastelands, forest backwoods and extremely beautiful views, although it is in vain to look for landscapes in the game matching fantasy stories. Medieval Czech Republic is quite an ordinary land and if you go to the countryside, it is not difficult to find similar landscapes today.

The open world seems to be alive, although not many people are found outside built-up areas. Most often they are wanderers or bandits. In the forests, you can come across poachers, camp charcoal burners or Kumans - dangerous invaders who are better not to mess with in the first part of the game. It is useful to be acquainted with the millers, who - for some reason - act as something like a thieves guild in the game.

The world is big, but not as huge as we've been used to in recent titles, and as you explore it, fast travel points unlock. Interestingly, by deciding to move in this way, which, incidentally, is done on a beautiful map rich in stylized drawings, from time to time, for example, we will find a body or become the target of a robbery. The game gives you a few seconds to take action - we can take the opportunity to skin the robbers or try to escape them. A nice solution, slightly reminiscent of the old Fallouts or Wasteland 2 , but keep in mind that using such amenities will not increase your horse riding skills.

The life of a good man

As befits Henry's simulator - don't be afraid to use such a term - a hero must eat and sleep in order to function properly . Meals should be reasonably fresh or dried. Each of them has a specific time, during which it remains fresh. A rotten apple or veal can cause poisoning. As if that was not enough, you also cannot eat enough, let alone starve. It is true that I never led Henryk to the brink of starvation, because I simply felt sorry for him, but you can experiment yourself. Since the hero can go down in a prison cell due to lack of food, then probably also everywhere else.

It is the same with sleep. It is impossible to get enough sleep anywhere and you have to be prepared in the initial phase of the game that Heniek will start to glue his eyes automatically , and you will see a black screen during this time. A bit later it gets easier because the character lasts longer without sleeping, but - to be honest - beyond this opening fragment, I never had a problem with that again. Maybe because like crazy every time I got anything or completed a task, I was taking a nap for a reason I give a little further.

The important thing, in any case, is that the essentially innovative system works well and shows some limitations, which we usually don't know about in RPGs, or we don't take into account at all. The hero's organism must be prepared to act. I do not recommend throwing yourself into the whirlwind of events hungry or without protection against adverse effects. We must remember about bandages because we can bleed out. We do not jump off the ladder because we will damage our feet and wounds take time to heal. Suddenly, besides swinging a sword, there are a dozen other factors to consider. And that's what's great about this game. Kingdom Come joins other RPG survivals, but it does it much better, because apart from the mechanics itself, it also uses narrative at the highest level.

Our hero is described by many factors that we develop in a very natural way, simply by performing specific activities. I mentioned horse riding earlier, besides, we are perfecting the martial art with various types of weapons, which can be practiced alone or under the supervision of trainers working here like in the Gothic series, thanks to which we gain appropriate proficiency and unlock other perks related to it. You have to pay a lot for the trainer, but we will also find people who will teach us many things for free.

You swing this sword like a flail

The above heading is not accidental. The combat, although it seems to have been significantly improved compared to the last beta, is still not easy and requires a lot of focus. We fight with various types of melee weapons and develop each of the skills assigned to them separately. This requires learning the right combos. Performing them, in turn, requires proper "timing" and precision, which - I must confess - I do not deal with the best. Therefore, it is difficult to call my progress any other way than accidental, but I believe that there will be people who, during the several dozen hours needed to complete the adventure, will be tremendously defeated by enemies and feel great satisfaction.

I think that this element of fun will be divided by the community of fans of the game and some will find this mechanic phenomenal, while others will frown at the mere thought that they have no choice and have to kick someone's paws . I myself tried to invest my time in developing rhetoric, which can be solved a lot and which makes it easy to convince people you are right, but there are times when we have no choice and we have to use a sword. This can to some extent be considered a game design flaw similar to what once happened in Deus Ex: Human Revolution .

Errors, Errors, Errors ...

I am sincerely surprised by the creators of this game. We received it just a few days before the premiere, in version 1.1. Full of errors, throwing to the desktop, fatal collision of objects, characters walking backwards and falling under textures with opponents. Several times it happened to me that because of a mistake I had to repeat whole tasks, which sometimes took an hour or longer. And to tell you the truth, even despite such gigantic bulls and probably disregarding the reviewers or future ratings of the game, I still fell into the medieval story of Heniek to my ears. The rash goes to the lectern, and I, cursing my teeth, go back and "push" as much as I can.

Fortunately, patch 1.2 appeared two days before the premiere. After updating the program for almost a day of fun, KCD did not crash even once. Still, be warned, but don't be discouraged as this is a really great game.

Currently, Warhorse production is not very well optimized. I was playing on a computer with an i5 processor and a GeForce GTX 970 graphics card at almost all ultra settings, in 1080p resolution - and while in rural areas or in the woods I could enjoy around 40-50 frames per second, in large cities this number dropped to 25 FPS. Probably on more powerful equipment this problem will disappear completely or almost completely. I could go down with the settings, but with the artwork so pretty in many places, I preferred to admire the landscape in all its glory.