Kingdom Come Deliverance Review: A Hard Day’s Knight

The Middle Ages, Knights, Bohemia; at first glance it sounds like a dream come true for RPG gamers, but what is it really? Has the hype surpassed the actual game? In this article we explore the labor of love that is Warhorse Studios’ Kingdom Come: Deliverance, a game that has been years in development, and has created a buzz for its unique take on an RPG. Let me just go find my armour and sharpen my sword, because where we’re going, we’re going to need it…

Genre: RPG
Developed by: Warhorse Studios
Published by: Warhorse Studios / Deep Silver
Release date: February 13th, 2018
Platforms: Windows PC, (Reviewed on PC), Xbox One and PS4
Price at time of review: 59.99 USD

Kingdom Come: Deliverance Review

  • Real Live Roleplaying – Role-playing at its finest as you actually take on the role of Henry, the Blacksmith’s son, and step into his shoes and see the world and experience it as he would.
  • Intense Combat – Combat that makes you jump in your chair as you parry and feint enemies, fighting for your very live, as one mistake and it’s all over
  • Cinematic Storytelling – Some of the finest storytelling in modern video game history, with solid character animations and excellent voice acting.
  • Freedom – Freedom to do just about anything you can think of, knowing in advance what the consequences are for your actions.

castle

A familiar site in Kingdom Come Deliverance, as castles abound.

Story and Setting

Kingdom Come Deliverance takes place in the early 15th century Bohemia, modern day Czech Republic, where players take the role of a young man named Henry (a Blacksmith’s son) during a time of war and strife. The land is torn asunder by supporters of the King Wenceslas IV and the invading force of the would-be usurper Sigismund of Luxembourg (his brother), and you are just a commoner caught in the middle.

It is a time of Knights and Chivalry, duty and honor, and of courage and bravery. And even though you are a mere mortal compared to some of these legends of history, Warhorse does a good job of inserting you into a position where you can influence events to a varying degree. The game’s story is not only extremely well written, but unfolds in a way that unexpectedly draws you in and takes hold. Sometimes after watching a cinematic I would find myself sitting closer to the screen or with my hand over my mouth without even realizing. And a number of times I had goosebumps because I was moved by what was happening, and the animations and acting were so good I felt as though I was watching a movie.

view

Skyrim ain’t got nothin on these castles.

The land is green, lush, vibrant, massive and extremely detailed! If you remember how it felt to explore Oblivion or Skyrim for the first time, Kingdom Come Deliverance has replicated that, only with enhanced visuals and a bit less of the “wonder” because of the lack of fantasy elements, if only slightly less. After all, you get to explore castles and ramparts, go hunting in the woods for wild animals, hop on your horse and go for a ride in a storm or in the bright sunshine. Or you can even stop at a bath house for some much-needed “relaxation” What more could you ask for?

Story and Setting are the strongest aspect of the game, which may come as a surprise to many, because the game is touted as an “open world sandbox RPG”. As good as Skyrim and Oblivion are, it wasn’t the story they presented that kept me playing, but the freedom and size. In Kingdom Come Deliverance, Warhorse has not only delivered a massive game in that vein, but has somehow managed to incorporate the story telling of a Dragon Age or Witcher game inside of it as well. Impressive to say the least.

  • A vibrant living, breathing world that has its own agenda.
  • Knights and Castles looks splendid with a sense of awe and wonder when you see them.
  • An intriguing setting that is morally ambiguous, allowing for the player to make up his/her own mind about what’s right or wrong

  • Sometimes there is too much storytelling and not enough gameplay
  • Long cinematics that might make players impatient

Gameplay

The gameplay of Kingdom Come Deliverance is overwhelmingly complicated, and difficult to sum up in a review, but at it’s essence it’s a “real” role-playing game. What exactly do I mean by that? I mean to say that you actually play the part of the character, Henry, and make decisions within the scope of things Henry could do. Much like Geralt in The Witcher, often your choices are not what “you” would do, and you are choosing from what someone else might do (Henry). This makes for an intriguing mix of freedom, and linear gameplay that I don’t think I’ve ever seen in a game before, because KCD takes it to another level of realism.

You must take the night watch on guard duty or go on patrol (because Henry would). You have to meet people at certain places at certain times, and if you don’t there will be hell to pay. Unlike Oblivion or Skyrim, where you can just ignore “real life’ and set about doing whatever you please, you simply can’t do that in Kingdom Come Deliverance. You must operate within the quests that are set upon you; quests which demand your attention and action, and find the freedom to do the things you want in between or on the way. If this sounds tedious or restricting, I totally understand, and I might even agree with you if it were not for the brilliant manner in which the storytelling is done.

mercy_kill

You kill the shit out of that bandit Henry!

There is traditional character development in terms of Stats and Skills that increase as you use them, again much the way Skyrim or Oblivion works. Fighting increases your Strength, Agility, Warfare and whatever weapon type you are using. Having increased skill not only means increased damage in combat, but faster reflexes, shorter attack times and more time to react. You can also be trained in Skills from certain characters in the game for modest amount of gold.

Combat is at first glance done in a extremely strange way and may put off people who have watched streams or who have seen gameplay (especially of the early areas). When you first start out you suck at sword fighting, I mean really badly. Indeed the first person you can fight will kill you EVERY time, no matter how good “you” personally are, because Henry is not. Throughout the course of the game you unlock techniques, much the way you would in an action game like Darksiders, that makes combat much easier and more importantly, much more fun and interesting. If you don’t feel like a badass “Knight” after your lesson with Captain Bernard then I’ll eat my hat.

body_dump

Nothing like dumping the body of a guy you just robbed naked into the river for good measure…

Questing is handled in much the same way as it is in most RPGs. Meaning, go here, help this person or do this or that. However, there is much more freedom to the manner in which you can complete them. For example if you need to get an item from someone you can buy it from him, steal it from him, kill him and take it, try to get him to gamble it on a game of dice or perhaps even do something in exchange. While not every way you can think of in real life is present, many many are, making you feel a sense of accomplishment that you completed the task at hand your way.

As mentioned, the gameplay of KCD has so many facets it’s impossible to cover them all in a (somewhat) brief review, but I expect this area to be one that players either love or hate. This is “hardcore” role-playing and that sort of gameplay is not for everyone. Many modern gamers like the more fantastical style of most video games, where they can do things they very much cannot in real life, and I fully expect there to be some disappointment. However, Warhorse has been very clear about what sort of game this is from the start, so I cannot help but feel they are not responsible for that.

  • A unique role-playing experience only few games can offer
  • Intense combat that makes you jump in your chair as you parry and feint enemies, fighting for your very live, as one mistake and it’s all over
  • Depth beyond measure in character development

  • Long loading screens or loading screens for nearly every interaction, aside from cinematics
  • Controls can be difficult sometimes, especially when mounted
  • Various glitches and bugs that while amusing, can be immersion breaking

Audio and Visual

The music in Kingdom Come Deliverance is not mind blowingly good, but it’s very strong and solid. It does a good job of setting the mood of the game and you never seem to “notice” it, except when it enhances a scene, which I always find to be a good indicator. I don’t think players will have any complaints about this particular aspect.

Voice acting, while not as good as some games, is well above the industry average. It’s done so well that you almost never seem to have any attention on it, which laid to rest one of my biggest fears. Most of the voices are fitting of their particular characters and most sound genuine and natural. An added plus here is that the facial animations are good enough that you’re not just sitting there looking at mouths that don’t seem to match what people are saying, but are instead listening, as you would with a real conversation.

deep_crap

And he was not wrong…

Sound effects are brilliant and really help to place you in the time period. From the clanging of the blacksmith’s hammer, to the horseshoes clopping along behind you, or even the sound of the rain. Everything very much feels as it should, leaving you to focus on the task at hand without too much distraction.

Visually Kingdom Come Deliverance is a feast for the eyes, and you can spend quite a bit of time just gawking at the castles and countryside. As I played the PC version on a fairly decent gaming rig, I was able to play the game at max graphics, and it looked gorgeous. Not quite the Witcher 3 gorgeous but close. Unfortunately, however, I was not able to get a solid 60 FPS with my equipment, though it never dropped below 30. This was a bit disappointing.

gorgeous

Scenes like this are common within the game and make wandering around fun in its own way.

If the setting and storytelling are the best thing about Kingdom Come Deliverance, then the audio and visuals are a close second. You experience the wind and the rain, the sun and the leaves falling in extremely high detail. So much so in fact a friend came over while I was playing, and was like “That looks amazing! The right amount of density and foliage, which is something you don’t see in other games.” I fully expect players to complain about not being able to get 60 FPS without a top of the line rig, and I was a bit disappointed myself, but aside from that I have no complaints.

  • A solid musical score that makes you feel right at home in Bohemia
  • Voice acting that won’t win any awards, but was much higher than expectations
  • Sound effects that immerse the player in the game more deeply
  • Graphics that are well above industry standards, and are a feast for your eyes

  • Some sounds glitches here and there, especially after reloading
  • Couldn’t run it at 60 FPS

8.7
Summary:

Kingdom Come Deliverance is a much needed breath of fresh air for the gaming industry, and frankly one that many players will overlook, much the way Demon's Souls originally was. It's challenging, cryptic, vague and there are simply too many questions without answers for the average gamer. However, if you can stay the course and persist through the unknown, understanding that you will get the answers if you carry on, you will find a very special and personal experience that few games offer.


Only three games to date have inspired me to pick up a book and actually read about the events of the game I was playing. The first was The Witcher, the second was Nioh and now the third is Kingdom Come Deliverance. Warhorse may not win any awards for this title, but they have established themselves where it matters most, in the hearts of gamers with a solid performance. They have earned themselves a warm following, and I can't wait to see what they do next. Now pardon me good sir, I have to see a bar wench about some ale.

Story and Setting (9.5)
Gameplay (8)
Audio & Visual (9.2)
Longevity (8)
Pricepoint (9)
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21 comments on “Kingdom Come Deliverance Review: A Hard Day’s Knight”

  1. Avatar TSMP says:

    Sounds like it came out pretty much exactly like I was hoping it would, which was pretty much exactly like they were saying it would. Ain’t that a rare thing these days?

  2. Avatar Lich180 says:

    Yeah, I especially liked how much the devs were involved with the community.

    It’s not an RPG for everyone, but the ones who really want this kind of realistic game will be pleased.

  3. Avatar elnawawi says:

    A big question I have: Does this game have world changing level of choices?
    I mean, you compared storytelling to The Witcher and Dragon Age. In these games you get to kill kings and crown others, destroy cities and influence the choice of of the Pope. Build armies of different types to fight alongside you …
    So, does the choices have real meaning and impact on the world/country/kingdom/army/cillages? Or it’s just you and the ultimate choice of how to get the stolen goods from the pathetic bandit?

  4. Avatar announakis says:

    Purchased and downloading!
    At last a game that will get me out of souls for a few hours!

  5. Avatar Lich180 says:

    I think it’s less "you are the chosen one, and will save the world" and more "you’re a random peasant who manages to not get killed in a war of succession and have a tiny role in history".

    You have choices that impact the people around you or those who are in charge of you, but probably not truly world-changing choices.

    This isn’t a power fantasy game where you play a demi-god, it’s a realistic history sim where you can die to bad food.

  6. Avatar qeter says:

    griffith build?
    and on a similar topic, any word on mod suport?

  7. Avatar Castielle says:

    Keep in mind that the events are based on real history, so you can’t change history…

    Cas

  8. Avatar qeter says:

    no, i mean how charismatic can your character be? is there a charisma stat or are dialogue choices based on missions done and clothes alone.

  9. Avatar Castielle says:

    Extremely. Gear has a Charisma stat actually and wearing more charismatic armour makes you succeed more. I don’t know exactly how all the dialogue options work. There are so many ways it’ll be weeks before I "might" know the answer to that question…

    Cas

  10. Avatar announakis says:

    First 2 hours in and I like it
    I am not a first person game player but the story is engaging and the role playing elements sit well with the first person perspective.
    I love the historical aspect of things, they really did their homework on this, it is appreciable and I find myself reading their codices avidly

  11. Avatar Lich180 says:

    Picked up a copy this afternoon on my break. Downloading the patch now, hopefully I can play a bit tonight.

  12. Avatar Castielle says:

    Curious to here your thoughts Lich.

    Cas

  13. Avatar Lich180 says:

    Well my post from earlier appears to have been eaten.

    Anyways, I got to play a little last night, and more this morning. I’ve only just got to the second main town, after the nice long cutscene.

    So far, it’s as I expected. Realistic, historically accurate portrayal of 1400’s Bohemia. Environments, towns and castles are amazing. I like going from the peasant hovels to the Lord’s manor and seeing the different ways they live. Attention to detail is the name of the game, here.

    Combat is really weird, but I think that’s because of the system they used. It’s fun and active, but also really slow at times. I’ve only fought a few people, and each fight so far feels more like a life or death situation. I don’t have much in the way of equipment, but so far each piece is DETAILED. Holy cow, it’s awesome seeing all the details in armor. Shiny armor gets dirty as you travel and fight, and you must clean and repair it to keep it intact and protecting your squishy bits.

    The story so far is great, well written and well acted. Motion capture and facial animations are kinda bad, but I don’t care about that as I’m listening to what people are saying and putting together the history of the area instead of focusing on whether or not their mouth forms the proper shape to say a word.

    Some of the smaller things, like food items are rather under detailed, but I think that is a limitation of the engine. Sometimes textures fail to load properly, especially when running around a lot. I’ve walked through featureless walls (through the invisible door) as collision detection works, only to see through the walls from the inside at everyone floating. The ground has also failed to load, leaving me walking on air.

    Lockpicking is also TERRIBLE. I hesitate to call the save system terrible as well, because autosaves are often enough right now, but the Savior Schnapps item is prohibitively expensive early on. At least you get 3 early on, and another a little later.

    I’ve seen word that the devs are aware of the lockpicking and save system complaints, as well as other bugs and have a patch in the works to address what they can. I think they will be taking good care of their labor of love, especially since there’s a decent crowd who wanted this game to be made.

    All in all, I’m having fun. The issues are minor in my opinion, and I find myself getting drawn into the world easily. One last complaint – NPC chatter is above their heads to read, instead of in subtitles. It’s a little jarring, but not a deal breaker.

    Ah, another annoying thing: the way the game engine works, the game is broken up into portions, about 2gigs each. Any time one of those portions is changed for a patch, the entire 2gb portion has to be redownloaded. That’s why the day one patch was so large, and every patch they release will be the same.

  14. Avatar Castielle says:

    Sounds about right. The minor technical issues I ran into weren’t enough for me to really worry about, because in a game that size you expect a bit of that. I was utterly shocked how great the story was though. That caught me by surprise!

    Cas

  15. Avatar Lich180 says:

    Tonight I plan on finishing my current quest with the guardsman in R-something, then finding a guy to teach me lockpicking. I’ve heard that the minigame is a little easier once you have a little skill in it.

    Also, last night I did a little training in fighting and archery, and some jerk-ass noble decided to test me. Beat him by one point in archery, then gave him some wounds in a sword fight. His bow is now my most valuable possession.

    Also, I seem to have treasure maps in my inventory… Maybe I’ll hunt those down soon.

  16. Octarin says:

    Alright, so, a sjw friend of mine started frothing at the mouth about this infamous racist, sexist and gamergatey game, so, ofc, I had to check it out. And I liked it. And I downloaded it – much to her chagrin, judging by her reactions, she’s close to an aneurysm this morning. So, after the first couple of hours, these are my first impressions from Kingdom Come: Deliverance.

    tl;dr: So far so good – mostly.

    + The graphics are awesome, I didn’t expect that quality.
    + The game interaction is very detailed, with lots of nuance.
    + The interactions are quite customisable, you do get to choose how to take things, I presume your choices make an actual difference, and they’re not merely decorative (like in other AAA titles, not gonna name names).
    + The combat is very realistic and precise in what you’d expect from a first person combat. Haven’t gotten to bows yet, but so far as sword and unarmed, it’s possibly as close as you can get to the real thing, without true VR.
    + The game actually includes … humor. Both ingame and in the cards and indexes. Astonishing.

    – It’s a fist person thing, which can be a bit hard to get used to, at least for me. Not a huge minus.
    – Lockpicking is the arse’s knuckles. Haven’t yet managed to get the bloody locks to turn all the round. I presume it gets easier with skill. Not a huge minus.
    – You need a kind of potion/drink to actually save the game if you don’t want to rely on the autosave. A HUGE MINUS. This isn’t a platform game, and there is absolutely no reason not to have easy access to save games. Also, you’re limited to only 3 save slots. Go figure why. I do hope they adress that issue very quickly, cause it’s sorta game-breaking.

    That’s it so far, can’t say I regret the purchase, but we’ll see what comes next :) Thanks for having me here.

  17. Avatar Lich180 says:

    They are going to make lockpicking on consoles easier, thankfully. It was designed with mouse and keyboard in mind, not controllers.

    Also they are doing something with the save system – I’m hoping for a simple save-on-quit system, like Fallout 4 in Survival mode. I do like that saves are… Not limited, but restricted, as all your decisions are much more impactful than normal.

    And as to the claims of others about one of the devs… That was blown out of proportion by some silly people who wanted certain things in the game that were simply not historically accurate.

  18. Avatar Fexelea says:

    Welcome Octarin! Glad to hear about your experience, and looking forward to your progress! Hope you share your daily adventures in the daily thread too
    https://fextralife.com/forums/t547994/today-in-kingdom-come-deliverance-i/

  19. Avatar Shadeon says:

    This game needed more time in development. The frequency of bugs both minor and game-breaking are pretty staggering, and there’s a serious lack of polish all around. Then there’s the ridiculous amount of loading this game does, which not even an SSD will relieve effectively. Pretty disappointed by this one.

  20. Avatar Lich180 says:

    I agree that more time in development may have benefited Kingdom Come, but also I think their choice of engine, lack of experience and goals they set restricted them quite a lot.

    There is certainly room for improvement, and I hope they are able to do what they need to do. Improvements in graphics, pop-in, bugs and stuff like that are all easy enough.

    The things they did right (historical accuracy, voice work, world building, details) are all amazing, and I enjoy it quite a lot.

    The stuff that went wrong (bugs, glitches, bad clipping / texture loading) is disappointing, but ultimately I can over look that stuff easier, because the stuff they did well makes up for it IMO.

    Edit to add: I’m playing on PS4PRO, and from what I’ve seen and read, console users are even worse off than PC, especially because of all the modding capability PC has and the difference in power between consoles and PC.

  21. Avatar TSMP says:

    Alright, so I’ve spent a decent amount of time fucking with this. My thoughts:

    Messed around with the Alchemy skill a bit. Here’s the thing about the autosave system: the save potions are expensive as fuck to buy, but cost virtually nothing to make (I say ‘virtually’ because the only cost is time, and not much of it). Now here’s the thing about Alchemy: you need to be trained before you can use it (which isn’t too expensive), then you need to buy recipes before you can make potions (which is hella expensive). Fortunately, you start with the recipe for Savior Schnapps, and it’s super easy to make. Unfortunately, recipes are written in English, and you don’t start the game knowing how to read (you have to be trained by a specific scribe). Fortunately, "not knowing how to read" apparently translates into "scramble the letters of all words as if you had perus-slysxedai (super dyslexia)", so with a piece of paper and some patience you can figure out what it says anyways. I assume being taught to read will make it progressively easier, but I haven’t gotten quite that far yet. Anyways, potions are awesome. There’s one that gives you regeneration 5 minutes after you use it, so if you know a fight is coming up you can chug that and it’ll make it much easier. And on top of that, some potions are alcoholic so the Drinking stat will get experience if you use them.

    No, really. I get the impression they expected people to use Alchemy (and maybe get a little drunk sometimes), because a lot of the things that seem hard normally are bunches easier with potions and a slight lack of sobriety. Such as lockpicking. Muscle relaxants are, apparently, good for keeping your hands steady. Go figure.

    Side note, antidote potions will let you eat rotten food, since bad food counts as being poisoned. Comes in handy sometimes.

    Herbalism is borderline OP, I’m not even kidding. It advances ridiculously fast (mostly due to the fact that you pick every plant of the target type in a radius, and plants tend to cluster), it’s a very reliable source of money, and it has all kinds of nifty passive stat boosts. Turns out skills have hidden perks you can unlock when you meet certain conditions: one of Herbalism’s is a permanent +2 to Vitality after you’ve picked enough Nettles or poisonous plants, and Nettles are as common as weeds. Non-hidden bonuses include a +2 to Charisma if you have 30 flowers in your inventory, and a passive that gives experience to your Strength stat whenever you gather plants (apparently, collecting flowers is a very manly hobby). Also, I’ve bypassed a few otherwise long and annoying quests just by selling 700+ dandelions and throwing gold at the problem. They might not be worth much individually, but they weigh virtually nothing; 700 dandies translates into 70 gold for 70 lbs, and they are everywhere. So far, I haven’t actually needed to steal anything or bother picking locks. I mean, I did it anyways just to see what it was all about, but that was after I’d completed the quests that would’ve made them necessary.

    The motion capture is too stiff and wooden, too jerky, and looks unnatural. It isn’t a big deal, and doesn’t do much to keep me from enjoying the game, but it’s worth mentioning. One thing does stand out, though: Henry’s body language gets humorously rude when he’s drunk. That’s actually how I noticed some potions are alcoholic, because I was wondering why Henry was acting drunk, and it turned out it’s because he actually was drunk. Funny, that.

    Bows are a pain in the ass to get good with. You need to get the skill up to 5 before you can use them without having to deal with arbitrary camera sway or flaying your own forearms, and the only way to raise the skill is by using bows and putting up with it. By "arbitrary camera sway", I mean the camera moves in the exact same way every time, so at least you can work around it without too much trouble. It’s still a pain, though.

    I love the writing, it’s so full of intrigue and shenanigans and the characters are actually pretty neat. Plus, the random moments of humor are nice when they come up.

    I don’t like the weird-as-hell bugs. One time I paused the game, and when I unpaused I was teleported 20 feet into the air and dropped. Didn’t cause fatal damage, thank goodness, but it was still weird and annoying.

    Did anyone else notice how the turning controls change when you’re sprinting or on a horse? Normally, the left stick is for walking and the right stick is for turning. But when sprinting, angling the left stick makes you turn, and so does the right stick except the game gets hella confused if you have the left stick even slightly off center when you move the right stick. And if you get used to using the left stick to steer while sprinting, then you try to use the right stick to angle your camera up or down, and you move it in any direction that isn’t perfectly straight, it’ll mess up your movement and you fall in a ditch or something. Very, very annoying.

    I think the colors make everything look weirdly plastic. I will admit it’s better than painting the world in varying shades of brown though, so this isn’t a huge complaint or anything. It’s just… noticeable. Aside from that, the game looks unexpectedly gorgeous, especially considering how they went for historical accuracy instead of fantasy. Definitely an achievement for them, there.

    Blah blah, words words, etc etc, wall of text. Long story short: Alchemy is awesome, Herbalism is for manly men, and Drinking makes everything easier.


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