Kingdom Come: Deliverance is the first game from Warhorse Studios, and who have stated that they have gone for a historically accurate and realistic depiction of 1400s Europe. You won’t find dragons, orcs, elves and giant spiders here – you have normal everyday people getting mixed up in the machinations of a false king and his conquest against the noblemen and leaders.
You play Henry, a simple blacksmith’s son going about his daily life, helping out his mother and father completing errands. The opening area sees you having to collect a debt from the town drunk which, in turn, becomes a punch up tutorial. You then head to the tavern to see the maid to get ale for your father, but end up bumping into three friends, who then coerce you into flinging horse manure at a newly white-washed house and finally collect some charcoal for the furnace, so you and your father can finish a sword for the town’s leader. In that short paragraph, there, it doesn’t sound like much, but it took a good hour-and-a-half just searching about and getting used to things!
Then, of course, the conquering army arrives on your doorstep and you’re stuck outside the fort after seeing your parents slain in cold blood. Head out to the stables out the back and grab a horse to head for Talmberg, which gives you your horse riding tutorial, since you’re being chased by a few men on horseback, all firing arrows at you. You have a time limit on this bit, and if you don’t make it to the town quick enough, you will bleed out and die. Also, if you stop for whatever reason, the enemy soldiers will kill you quickly!
So, now is the time for you to heal up, ask about the town, find a way to get out to bury your parents, and start your long quest for revenge on your parents killer amongst other things.
Medieval times were tough, and Warhorse have portrayed that really well. In addition to the RPG elements, where you will learn skills within a specific area, you must manage Henry in daily life. You have to eat, sleep, heal wounds and so on. If you neglect him, in any way, you will die. Eat food that is rotten, and you get food poisoning; don’t sleep and you will literally collapse where you stand, after the screen starts slanting due to the effect. If you eat too much, you become stuffed and sluggish (never good in combat situations). Same goes for eating too little. If you get caught doing something you shouldn’t – such as stealing – you will spend time in the local jail, if you cannot pay the fine. There is no escape, and you have to sit for a few minutes watching the on-screen dial ticking down. All of this is wrapped up in great storytelling and writing, with Henry getting to know the nobility and becoming a squire early on in the game. It may sound humdrum, but it keeps you interested and on your toes.
The combat in Kingdom Come: Deliverance is brutal and harsh. For a start, unlike the fantasy RPGs like The Elder Scrolls, you cannot heal during combat. Of course, there is no hurling a crafty fireball to set your foe on fire either! You have five points of attack where you can swing your weapon (axe, spear, sword, mace and club). Once you level-up a bit, you can unlock skills that allow chaining together named attack combos. You also have a blocking mechanic where, if you time it just right, you can counter, dodge and have the ability to feint, where you hold a charged attack in a certain direction, and make a last-minute change to make a hit. You will get hit and injured, so have to think about what you are doing. Two enemies can take you down quite easily, especially if both have close range weapons. On top of this, you have a stamina bar, so each time you swing your weapon, block or get hit, it lowers. Use it all, and you have to back up until it recharges, leaving you open for attack. This adds extra depth to the complex combat system. Knowing when to strike, block and back off is essential.
Archery is another skill, but the realism injected into the game lets things down. You have no sight on your bow, and after nocking an arrow, you can’t tell where it is going to go. There is an early quest where you go hunting with Lord Capon. I used 60 arrows and only hit one hare! I think the problem arises from the way the bow is held in-game. An archer stands with weak arm holding the bow, and draw the string back, so it follows the centre line of your face (I used to do archery). You don’t get this, so it makes life a lot harder using bows, as it is off-centre and the arrow travels funny.
As with most RPGs, you have a main questline to follow, for which I highly recommend you do the first few main story quests after you bury your parents. You’re taught swordsmanship before heading out and exploring, and it makes life a bit easier. There are also plenty of side quests which are fully fleshed out. Investigating stone is one example, which has you questioning builders at a monastery and reporting back to the lord at Talmberg, going hunting and generally helping out the populace. There is a fast travel system, which shows an overhead map styled like old tapestries. Here, your character is a figure on a board game-type appear, moving from point A to B, stopping at points of interest.
There are so many different ways to complete your objectives, so you will find a play style that suits. An example is one of the earlier main quests – finding Ginger, the stable hand, where you have to fight 2 mercenaries. I kept getting killed by them, so in the end, I talked to them to make sure I had the right people, then waited till they slept, and then killed them! You need to bear in mind, though, that illegal stuff can have townsfolk hating you, and guards doing spot checks, so you need to behave or not get caught (I learned a lesson with that one!)
The game runs on Cryengine (Warface, Crysis series & Homefront: The Revolution), which allows for highly-detailed environments and character models. Now, the thing here, with the ambition of the developers, is that there are numerous bugs. For the most part, the game looks great, but it does have issues, presently, which Warhorse are in the process of fixing. Examples include: characters’ clothing suddenly appearing, buildings building up from low-texture models and I have seen my horse suddenly appear on the other side of the fence from where I left him (pop-in)!, plus cutscenes where, if you start the dialogue close to a character, will change such that you will be stood back-to-back with them sending the camera all over the place. There’s bad clipping, where hands and limbs disappear inside other objects, such as holding reins on a horse and at times ,the sun makes everything look bleached out. Some of the characters’ faces can look a little odd at times, e.g. one of your friends at the beginning looks like he has two lazy eyes, and the position is off. On top of that, I have noticed sharp points going across the screen, occasionally, as if something is wrong with the VRAM on my PS4. It is the only game which causes this, and I haven’t seen it happen on other games.
Overall, even though it is buggy, it is still playable. There are a few broken quests, and since the last update to get up wooden stairs, I have to hold the run key, and so on. Thankfully, patching is being done, and Warhorse are listening to the community. One thing I do need to bring up here, however, is a Day 1 patch weighing in at 23Gb, and since then, there has been an additional 18Gb patch, so before you can play, you will have nigh on 40Gb to download. Another final minor gripe is the loading times – you have to watch the intro on each boot… well, I say watch it… you can skip it, but it takes just as long to load to the title screen regardless. There are also loading screens whilst playing, and during gameplay it can break the immersion of the open world.
For all of the issues, I do keep going back and enjoying my time with Kingdom Come: Deliverance. It’s just a bit rough round the edges at the moment. It makes a refreshing change playing a Medieval RPG with no fantasy elements, however.
Thanks to the Youtube channels featured for the gaming footage.
- Developer: Warhorse Studios
- Publisher: Warhorse Studios/Deep Silver
- Players: single player
Retro at heart and lover of all things ’80s, especially the computers, the music and the awesome movies and TV shows! Crazy huge retro gaming collection spanning the ’80s and ’90s with hundreds of tapes, discs and carts for various machines on top of a 600+ strong Steam library that is ever-growing. No I am not a serial hoarder, just a dedicated retro gamer!