Kingdom Come: Deliverance is a game that’s been on my radar for quite some time. I’ve always wanted a historical game that wasn’t an RTS and being set in medieval Bohemia on the cusp of the Hussite Wars, Kingdom Come: Deliverance’s setting strays from the usual settings into an area of history I at least know little about. And whilst I do like the final product, its certainly not for everyone.
The game’s story follows a pretty familiar pattern. You play as Henry, the local blacksmith’s son living a fairly uneventful life in the sleepy village of Skalitz. All’s fine and dandy when BAM! Your village is destroyed by an invading army and you escape by the skin of your teeth with a burning desire for revenge. It’s a pretty clichéd plotline but it serves as an effective base upon which Kingdom Come: Deliverance builds the rest of its world. For instance the attack on your village is sourced from contemporary accounts and archaeological evidence which is a nice touch, plus all too often historical video games adopt a bigger picture of history, focusing on its great and powerful actors. By having you play as a simple, illiterate blacksmith’s apprentice however, Kingdom Come: Deliverance allows the player to observe these historically significant events from the perspective of ordinary people and the experience is pretty disempowering and is further compounded by how often you’re reminded of your lowly station and even when your feudal betters treat you well, it feels more often like they’re affording you an inconvenient kindness rather than treating you with respect.
[pullquote]Kingdom Come: Deliverance allows the player to observe historically significant events from ordinary peoples’ perspectives[/pullquote]
But what I love most about Kingdom Come: Deliverance is the worldbuilding. Whilst the in-game codex might do a fine job at explaining the facts of medieval life, its quite another thing to hear ordinary characters debate the important issues of the era. I distinctly remember once conversation with a village priest who complained endlessly about the church’s detachment from the lives of ordinary people, a very real concern at the time.
Unfortunately, Kingdom Come: Deliverance’s mechanics have proven rather polarising. Whilst the game takes on a Witcher-esque open world full of rustic beauty, the game plays more like Oblivion for obsessive weirdos. See, Kingdom Come: Deliverance takes its focus on realism beyond its narrative and into its very mechanics. Not only do you have to keep your character well fed and rested (which to be fair isn’t too hard to do), but there are a myriad of fun and varied ways to injure yourself.[pullquote]Whilst the game takes on a Witcher-esque open world full of rustic beauty, the game plays more like Oblivion for obsessive weirdos[/pullquote]
Combat is an awkward affair too. Not only do you have to remain mobile, but because you can control the direction of your attacks, so you have to catch your opponent off-guard whilst watching their attacks and keeping your stamina meter high. As such, each fight is a serious affair that can leave you seriously injured. Then there are the bugs. I distinctly remember my first fist fight with the village drunkard. He clipped into his own house before somehow teleporting behind me and twatting me right in the back of the head.
Ultimately, Kingdom Come: Deliverance is a niche title for a nice audience. That said, though I still have far to go, I must say I’m thoroughly enjoying it so far. Its very unpolished and mechanically clunky, but medieval Bohemia has proven utterly captivating.