Kingdom Come: Deliverance full review

Fully funded by fans on Kickstarter, Kingdom Come: Deliverance promises to be different to any other role-playing game on the market at the moment. It offers a historically accurate representation of 1403 Bohemia, and puts you in the shoes of an apprentice Blacksmith named Henry.

Following a lot of interest throughout development, Kingdom Come: Deliverance is finally available to buy in the UK and around the world. Did the developers promise too much, or is it a game fit for a king? Here’s our Kingdom Come: Deliverance review.  

Pricing and availability

Kingdom Come: Deliverance is now available to buy in the UK and the rest of the world following a 13 February 2018 release date, and is available across PS4, Xbox One and PC, though there’s no sign of support for Microsoft’s Play Anywhere scheme.

In terms of pricing, you can pick it up for £40/$60 on Steam or Green Man Gaming for PC users, while console gamers can head to the likes of Amazon (£44.99/$59.99) or GAME (£44.99) (or GameStop in the US for $59.99) to grab a copy.

Review

Kingdom Come: Deliverance is probably not like any other role-playing game you’ve ever played. Why? Unlike fictional places like Eorzia, Kingdom Come: Deliverance is based on the Kingdom of Bohemia in 1403, with events, people and places all taken straight from the history books. The team worked with historians, read research and even historical texts to create something that is almost 100 percent historically accurate – and it’s impressive.

The game, in addition to providing a gripping storyline, provides a fun way for gamers old and young to learn something new about history. Whenever you interact with a person or place that is based on something real, you’ll unlock a Codex entry. The Codex entries are accessible via your player inventory and provide titbits of historical information. These cover a range of topics, from the life and role of an executioner (which is surprisingly lonely!) to the meaning behind some of the shrines you encounter on your travels.

So, while it’s still an entertaining game, you’ll likely pick up a thing or two about 1403 Bohemia as you play – what’s not to like?  

Throughout the course of the game, you’ll play in the shoes of Henry, son of the Master Blacksmith of Silver Skalitz. Henry, in general, is quite unassuming, and unlike with other games, those around him won’t go out of their way to help him. Life as an apprentice blacksmith is tough in 1403, and it’s obvious from the off. You’ll struggle, make bad decisions and clamber your way through the first few hours of the story.

The good news is that Henry ‘the unassuming’ becomes something greater in a civil war-focused storyline that’ll take even experienced RPG players around 30-50 hours to complete, and that’s without focusing on optional quests, stat levelling and other activities found throughout the open world. All in all, the game should provide more than 100 hours of historically accurate, gripping gameplay.

Admittedly we’ve only spent around 20 hours in the game so far, but it’s given us a good enough idea of how well-crafted the storyline is.

Kingdom Come: Deliverance has a range of realistic systems for you to make the most of, from using the grindstone to sharpen your blade and remove dried blood to using the alchemist’s bench to concoct medieval potions that’ll give you the edge in combat. And unlike with other games, you have to do everything manually.

You have to spin the grindstone, adjust the angle of your sword and sharpen it the whole way along, watching out for smoke instead of sparks, all by yourself. Or, if you want to make potions, you have to read the alchemy book, retrieve ingredients from the shelf and mix them all yourself. It’s incredibly hands-on, making you really feel like you’re in 1403 rather than simply playing a game that takes care of everything for you. It’s such a nice touch, and it’s something we’d love to see in more games.

The open world of Bohemia feels incredibly alive, too. The most impressive factor is that the decisions you make, in and out of quests, will affect your gameplay experience. It’s best to explain with an example: I accepted a quest to go with my garrison to aid a nearby farm that’d been attacked by bandits, but decided to go home and nap for a while first (it provides stamina and health regen) because I was expecting a big battle.

Feeling refreshed, I headed back to the meeting point to see that my garrison had left without me! I jumped on my horse and rode to the farm to find horses and residents slaughtered. I was welcomed by a wall of abuse from my mentor about my actions. “WHERE WERE YOU? ALL THESE PEOPLE ARE DEAD BECAUSE OF YOU!” he shouted, and it really hit home. If you accept a quest, it’ll go ahead with, or without, you.

That’s because in Kingdom Come: Deliverance, NPCs have a life. Each NPC has daily tasks to undertake, whether that be manning a trader stall in the town square, growing wheat or patrolling the castle walls, before retreating home to rest in the evening. It brings a bit of common sense into the game; there’s no point in heading to the market at 3am as there will be no-one around to serve you, or, if you wanted to sneak into someone’s home to steal their valuables, they’d be asleep (and an easier target) at night. These kinds of systems allow you to approach tasks and objectives in a number of ways, providing a game that suits your personal playstyle.

NPCs will also act differently towards you based not only on your reputation, but also how you look. If you’re smelly, dirty and your rags are soaked in blood, you’ll have a pretty tough time talking to royalty or the Catchpole. Things, like having torn clothes, not sheathing your weapon and acting rudely in conversation, can also affect the outcome and how they’ll act towards you. The same can also be said of the opposite – you’re more likely to get a positive outcome if you’re clean and wearing high quality clothing.

Like with most RPGs, you have a variety of stats that you can level up in Kingdom Come: Deliverance. These range from overarching skills like your main level, strength and agility down to more specific skills like lockpicking, pickpocketing and reading. You’ll gain access to special skills every few levels that can help give you an edge, whether it’s being able to run faster or go longer without food and sleep. This allows you to focus Henry’s strengths on your personal play style and get something more out of the game. The beauty is that activities will often level up more than one skill at a time – archery increases the archery, strength and agility skills, for example.

Combat is another area that is wildly different from almost any other RPG that we’ve played. With most RPGs, the protagonist is a God-like creature that can take on 5+ enemies at once and fell them all with a single swing of the sword. That’s definitely not the case in Kingdom Come: Deliverance – in fact, it’s essentially the opposite. It takes quite a bit of effort to win a fist or sword fight, with fairly complex combat controls.  

Combat requires you to keep an eye on your opponent, and try to second-guess their attacks. You can block, parry, swipe and stab with your sword, changing the direction of your swing with your analogue stick or mouse to try and catch your opponent off-guard and deal devastating damage. You can even feign an attack, pretending to attack from a particular angle before changing at the last minute to catch your opponent by surprise. It’s very tactical and real, requiring you to constantly think about available space, stamina and angle of attack.  

As with other skills, practice does make perfect, and the game actively encourages you to practice combat before venturing out into the big bad world. The good news is that while it seems difficult initially, it does get better with more practice, and as you level up the relevant skills. At its best, the combat mechanics provides an intense, high-energy battle scenario where you really do feel like you’re battling for your own survival.

There’s a focus on mortality in the game, a theme present from the very beginning. When battling, most opponents will give up and ask for mercy rather than be killed, because life is the most valuable thing, y’know, in life. You can still choose to kill them if you want, but this may damage your reputation and get you in trouble if there are witnesses nearby.

The good news is that if you don’t want to fight, you won’t have to a lot of the time. If you’re smart, there’s a way to avoid combat in almost every scenario you come across. It’s time for another example: I was tasked with, ahem, ‘retrieving’ a ring from the bedroom of the local executioner. Rather than run in sword drawn and ready to fight (a fight I’d probably lose, especially with three dogs for backup), I instead chose to talk to the man. Using my charm and charisma, I managed to successfully lie to the executioner and get him away from his home long enough for me to locate the ring and leave the area.

Take your time, assess the situation and go from there. And pay attention to what the NPCs say; they’ll often give you tips and tricks that aren’t mentioned in official quest instructions.

Armour is pretty impressive in Kingdom Come: Deliverance too, as it’s not just about stats. The amount of protection your armour provides is based on things like the actual shape of the armour and the material, due to the use of a physics-based impact system. This means that if your armour doesn’t cover your forearms and you’re stuck in the forearm, you’ll take a lot of damage and will probably start bleeding too.

Armour protection also varies depending on the weapon of your opponent – chainmail is almost impenetrable to swords, but won’t provide much protection from heavy weapons like maces, and vice-versa. It’s incredibly detailed, and offers a level of realism not found anywhere else. Maybe this will be the end of scantily-clad female armour that magically protects bare skin?

But despite offering impressive systems and engaging, unique RPG gameplay, there are some downsides to Kingdom Come: Deliverance that we’d like to see improved in future.

While the sword-fighting mechanics are challenging but engaging, the archery mechanics can be pretty frustrating – especially when first starting out. Unlike with sword combat, there are no visual elements that represent where your bow is aiming, and you’re left to judge your shot by eye. Couple that with an awkward sway, moving targets and limited arrows that you can’t pick back up and you’ve got a weapon that is largely impossible to use, especially when hunting small game like rabbits.

We understand that it’s supposed to be realistic and that there isn’t a lot of hand-holding in the game, but we think the archery mechanics are a little too tough.

Also, for a game with a variety of complex systems, the text-based tutorials don’t do an amazing job at explaining what you need to do. While some systems are easier than others, we really struggled to lockpick and use the grindstone (initially, anyway!) using the text-based instructions.

As the game focuses heavily on your decisions and available resources, we think it’d be better to provide a more in-depth tutorial process – maybe even incorporate quick YouTube video clips that can explain how best to do it. Cater for the visual learners too, Warhorse Studios!

Game saves could be implemented in a better way too, especially for the more casual members of the gaming community. As it’s implemented at the moment, the game essentially decides how long you can play for. The game saves when beginning a new quest, when you advance to an important event and when you go to sleep, but we’d like the game to save a little more often.

There was a scenario where I was hunting game in the forest for quite some time, accumulating a decent stash of Hare meat and levelling up my stats. It was all going well until I was jumped by bandits that proceeded to kill me, and the last checkpoint was at some point hours before. Just because we’re not doing quests, it doesn’t mean we’re not doing anything meaningful.

I admit that there is a way to save your game anywhere – Saviours Schnapps – but it’s not a great system. Drinking that alcoholic beverage will make the game save wherever you are, the issue is that these are limited, and must be purchased (they’re rather pricey) or crafted via an alchemy bench (something you can’t do from the get-go).

Personally, I think we need to see this completely removed from the game, and the devs should introduce a similar system to Fallout 4 where you can quicksave by a dedicated on-controller button just before heading into a dangerous fight/dodgy looking area. It makes the gameplay experience better for experienced and casual players alike without penalising players in-game.