As Frugal Gaming’s resident historical gaming expert, it’s that time again, where my Frugal Gaming overlords dust me off, pick the twigs out of my beard and wheel me in front another historical gaming epic. This time, my wizened, rheumy gaze has been cast upon KingdomCome: Deliverance, an open world chat-em-up of medieval proportions.
KingdomCome: Deliverance is aiming to be as grounded as possible in historical accuracy. Set in 15th Century Bohemia, (known as the Czech Republic these days), you will find yourself taking part in a story of intrigue and revenge while trudging through the mud-caked streets of villages and castles, chatting to the locals or skewering them with long-swords. As with all early access, this comes with the requisite suite of bugs and glitches and it’s also not representative of the whole game, as the beta provides a chunk of the middle-game to play through. It’s plenty to test the ambitions of the game as well as the systems and characters intended to populate the sprawling map.
Thankfully not all the details of medieval life are present. I’m yet to die of the Plague, my teeth look remarkably Californian and, in a bold statement of going against the trend, there isn’t a button that I can press to defecate. As it is now most of the voice acting and dialogue is temporary, but you get the gist. Most of your time will be spent cajoling scraps of information from NPCs by completing quests. Most quests can be completed in a variety of ways and will dynamically update depending on your actions and while you can use aggression to force information, it’s best to explore the dialogue options as much as possible to level up your conversation ability.
On the occasion that you have to let your steel do the talking, the combat system built for Kingdom Come: Deliverance is unlike any other sword-fighting system I’ve seen in a game. Warhorse have put a lot of effort into doing it ‘right’, particularly for a game that has a first-person perspective. By using a simple dial in the HUD you can select different stances, parry incoming attacks or attempt feints to get past your opponent’s defence. It’s a little clunky at first but once you get a feel for the rhythm of a sword fight it’s deeply satisfying. To be clear: there’s no way to blindly hack and slash your way out of a fight – you’ll just exhaust the protagonist, you have to be patient but decisive, plus landing the odd punch when you get in close is as funny as it sounds. Incidentally, this system translates well while using a controller, but more on that later.
Built with the Cryengine, Kingdom Come: Deliverance is graphically demanding, so a decent PC is useful to enjoy all the graphical bells and whistles, but I can assure you it looks great on medium settings and of course the game will be optimised prior to release. In terms of environmental design, this game takes trees and forests to another level, the flora a fauna of this game is totally stunning. There are layers of detail in almost all the environments and the towns and villages, making them feel lived in rather than designed. And for all you equestrian fans out there I can officially reveal that the horses in Kingdom Come: Deliverance rank among the best that video gaming has to offer. Resolute, proud beasts, they provide you with dependable transportation, companionship and should you have the time (you will) you’ll find yourself gazing at them while they stare back with deep, soulful eyes.
I have to applaud the current crop of actors that appear in the game. The dialogue and script are entirely placeholders at the moment. But they reveal a snapshot of the game in development. I spent plenty of time talking to the locals and although it can sometimes feel like you’ve stumbled into the village am-dram Shakespeare rehearsals, I became rather fond of their shonky dialogue delivery. The protagonists voice is the one you’ll hear the most and I grew to love his wooden, stoic exchanges with NPCs, making his utterances of surprise or anger all the more (unintentionally) hilarious. I had to mention this as I’m almost sad that these performances won’t make it into the final game. I appreciate the developers are aiming for AAA values for Kingdom Come: Deliverance, but there is a certain so-bad-it’s-good quality which I hope some hint of will remain in the final build.
My biggest concern with this game is the fact it’s launching on both consoles at. Due to its focus on historical accuracy and faithful recreation of past locations and events, I do wonder if console owners will be drawn to a medieval game that doesn’t feature dragons, spells, or competitive multiplayer. This game is by no means an action-packed hack and slash-a-thon, it is a thoughtful, almost lovingly created slice of historical reconstruction set in a delightful environment with quirky personalities, and even though I approached this game with all the cynical caution my wearied eyes have witnessed in early access games over the years, Kingdom Come: Deliverance won me over with its charm and simplicity.
Historical accuracy – you might learn something!
Sword fighting system – it’s like fighting with a real sword!
Voice acting – nutters, jilted wives, drunk soldiers = lol
Historical accuracy – can’t see the COD community jumping on this
It ain’t finished – can’t wait to see the finished article