Kingdom Come: Deliverance attempts to give players a realistic medieval action-RPG, complete with a dense and diverse open world. Being heavily based on historical fact, the experience is mostly aimed at history buffs, but can also be enjoyed by casual fans thanks to its capable combat mechanics.
Taking place in 15th century Bohemia, Kingdom Come: Deliverance puts players in the shoes of Henry, the son of a famous local blacksmith. Upon helping his father craft a sword for a respected lord, your town is invaded and burned to by an opposing tyrant, with Henry’s parents being murdered in the process. Left with a newly crafted sword fit for a king, Henry must flee his hometown of Talmberg, hone his skills and embark on a lengthy quest for vengeance. Over the course of a 40-50 hour experience, the story takes a few twists and turns, but mainly stays on a simple path that keeps the experience confined yet varied enough, thanks to a diverse selection of quests and open ended mission structure. The history of the world itself is admittedly too complex and convoluted for a simpleton like myself, but I can see history buffs really soaking in the historical context and allowing it to boost the overall experience. The story won’t win any awards, but when being combined with its dense open world and strong combat mechanics, the simplistic story doesn’t feel like it holds you back too much.
Starting off I felt as if my first couple hours were nothing but fetch quests but after a couple hours with it, you’ll find that quests open up; this is where the open ended mission structure begins to shine. Mission structure is always important in open world games because it simply allows you to take advantage of the world itself. As an example, early on in the game, you are kept within the walls of a castle for safety purposes. Wanting to get out, you realise how much you can actually do to complete this task. Steal some armour to disguise yourself. Commit a crime within the walls in order to be banished. Bribe a guard to let you out. Or simply jump off the drawbridge into the moat and swim away. These mission allow you to feel like you are part of a realistic open world, with realistic consequences- and dangers, around every corner.
Kingdom Come: Deliverance builds on the foundation of realism, which really splits the game in two from that point on, with many things boosting that sense of authenticity, and some being hindered by it. Henry needs to eat, sleep, bandage wounds, and even bathe in order to make a good impression on the characters you come across. This sense of personal management seems daunting but thanks to some easy to access menus and constant reminders on your HUD, it soon becomes second nature.
At first glance, the game looks pretty enough. After a medieval art montage introduces players to its world, you’ll come to notice how good the game actually looks. Character models are detailed, lighting effects on both said character models and the world itself are insanely pretty, and the various environments are no strangers to some admittedly gorgeous colours and vistas, with an impressive draw distance at certain times. The game maintained a steady frame rate, but definitely consider that huge 23GB day one patch to make sure things run smoothly thereafter.
However, Kingdom Come: Deliverance is not perfect, with the performance dropping the ball at certain times. Character models have a habit of displaying some downright hilarious emotionless faces during tense moments and conversations, while some textures on clothes are outright lacking. Clipping is rare but present, while characters awkwardly move about the world with stiff animations and awkward reactions. I found that voice acting was average across the board, with Henry’s performance to be quite surprising at times. Feeling the emotion in his voice clashes with various NPC’s though, as they respond to you with utter blandness or the most overacted lines of all time. While it didn’t break the experience for me, I found myself being pleasantly distracted by beautiful vistas and a varied but historically accurate score.
Combat in Kingdom Come: Deliverance is admittedly brilliant. Wielding a sword carries with a sense of weight and finesse, as I came to learn after many failed attempts. When engaging with an enemy, the camera locks on, allowing you to then attack from various directions with the right stick, while stabbing when necessary. The combat felt varied enough at first, but when considering defence with a sword or shield, stamina management and positioning, I soon realised that patience and precision were the keys to success. My only gripe with the combat is that while one-on-one combat is functional, being outnumbered causes a huge spike in difficulty. You can chalk it up to realism, but being outnumbered in combat feels clunky, and sometimes downright impossible. Most of the difficulty comes from combat itself, but consistently revealed and amount of depth with each fight that proved itself easy enough to learn, but oh so difficult to master.
Given it’s heavy historical context and dense narrative structure, Kingdom Come: Deliverance most definitely outweighs its flaws, proving to be an ambitious yet competent action RPG with exceptional combat mechanics, a beautiful looking open world and a ton of things to do. While Warhorse Studios have crafted an experience aimed at a niche audience, those it does attract will appreciate its complexities and historical accuracy. It even managed to keep a history dummy like me engaged for longer than I’d like to admit.
Score: 7.5 out of 10
Highlights: Deep yet accessible fighting mechanics, gorgeous lighting effects, historical accuracy and attention to detail.
Lowlights: Occasional technical glitches, bland textures, aimed at a very niche audience.
Developer: Warhorse Studios
Publisher: Warhorse Studios, Deep Silver
Platforms: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Windows PC
Reviewed on PlayStation 4 with retail code provided by the publisher.