It's refreshing to see a new developer spawn out of a Kickstarter campaign, but with so many Kickstarter games ultimately flopping or not even get close to being released, will Warhorse Studios go against the trend and release a game that not only delivers but is also fun to play?
With the sheer size of the world, the number of things you can do in it, and the realistic locations, Kingdom Under Deliverance eschews a vibrant and lively open world much akin to The Witcher and The Elder Scrolls.
Where the game differentiates from the rest is through its realism. Much like every other game where you get health bars, stamina meters, and even moments of stealth, the realism comes at the moment of potential insta-death in battle. If you take an arrow to the head, you're guaranteed to die. Adding armour helps deflect ballistics and other weapons only with a potential field of view issue.
This was one portion where realism really did step in. There are multiple armour sets and helmets that can either hinder or enhance your progress. Taking out a bow while wearing heavy armour and a visor that gives you forward-only vision isn't the greatest idea, but then brandishing a sword and shield with leather armour might allow you for swifter movement – but expect to die almost instantly from arrows and swords. Situations change a lot within the world and pairing the correct gear with the correct weapons will always be the safest solution.
Realism is also taken much further with a storyline set in Bohemia, with the perceived locations of the buildings (relevant to their timeline), and the characters that were known and alive at that era in Bohemia. Every character has a personality that can change on a whim depending on your actions; their speech and options change depending on your knowledge of the world. Some people can even lie to make you do questionable acts, despite given several outcomes in which to approach the solution.
An example of this was when you’re needed to retrieve a ring to pay off your debt to a daughter's father who kept you alive by hiring an apothecary. You're told a farmer buried a man with the ring that was rightfully his, but you can use it to pay the debt if you retrieve it. Lo and behold the ring wasn't there. He then gives many solutions to the whereabouts and how you should approach retrieving the ring. Once found and returned, you find out that it's a piece of junk and even more potential pathways are opened up to you.
But this also makes the game your own personal story – what might have been my experience in retrieving the ring and paying off my debt, can be completed it in many different ways.
There is a campaign to help your progression, assuming you'd rather complete the game than do the multitude of side-quests. Our playtest was based purely on your character learning how to fight with a bow and sword, finding your father's sword to give to your king, kill bandits at their camp, and disguising yourself as a monk - yes, a monk!
The final part of the Kingdom Under Deliverance playtest was to sneak into a monastery and assume the role of a brother-to-be – you want to rid yourself of the deeds and anguish from your old life and take on the role of a higher-being at peace with oneself, only without their knowledge your real mission is to infiltrate the brotherhood and assassinate one of the new brothers.
Attempting to do this is not a simple matter of walking up to one of them and asking outright who they are and why they're there – a lot of the times they lie and don't tell you the whole truth. While you're given set times to be in certain places, it's imperative that you sneak around collecting evidence from others and books/scrolls while not being caught.
Its detective-like approach and evidence gathering is another scope of a game that is already riddled with intrigue and realism. Again, the realism doesn't stop there! Your character loses health and it stays low until you heal yourself with food or bandages, but also your character gets tired; the more tired he is then the worse he'll perform, and the stamina bar depletes quicker, requiring you to hit the hay to replenish your sleep deprived self.
Purchasing items incorporate a layer of bartering, sure you can purchase goods at their set prices, but let's face it, every bit of money you earn you want to save, especially for those niceties that could be a matter of life and death. Adding to the shopping list presents you with the option to barter - if you wish to. You're given a meter of their attitude towards your (anger level), and how much they're willing to part ways with their goods, the same can also be said selling your goods to them.
You have probably noticed the word “realism” constantly being used. It might seem strange that this word is being touted a lot, but the developers have moved in a direction where realism is more important, especially with as many historical facts as possible than it is to take a non-fictional setting and flood it with fictional stories and inaccuracies.
Even though this was a taster of what is available in the full game, we have already been bombarded with so much content in such a small portion that it bodes a game full of potential and possibilities. With the February 2018 release date approaching ever so quickly, we will keep you up to date with the latest in Kingdom Come: Deliverance and make sure to read our review when it arrives.