king­dom come: de­liv­er­ance

Brave Sir Henry turned about, and valiantly, he chick­ened out

XBox: The Official Magazine (US) - - START - Ian Even­den

When we first meet him, young Henry seems to have it good in life. His fa­ther’s the vil­lage black­smith with a sus­pi­ciously deep knowl­edge of swords, his mother patches up the wounds he gets from brawl­ing with his friends, he’s got an out­ra­geously flir­ta­tious girl­friend, and he seems to spend most of his time de­liv­er­ing nails and day­dream­ing. Un­for­tu­nately, he also lives in Bo­hemia—the mod­ern Czech Repub­lic—in 1403, a time when death can ar­rive by sword-thrust at any time.

Henry is also the lik­able-but-blank pro­tag­o­nist of an ac­tion RPG, so it’s not long be­fore death does ar­rive in the form of a horde of mys­te­ri­ous mer­ce­nar­ies ‘from the east’, who rudely in­ter­rupt Henry just as he’s get­ting the hang of his de­liv­er­ies and is grad­u­at­ing to mak­ing swords.

Born a ba­sic hu­man rather than a cat-per­son or some fla­vor of elf—nei­ther of which ex­ist in this uni­verse full of Bo­hemi­ans with thick English ac­cents, Welsh Ger­mans, and un­ex­pected Amer­i­cans—Henry doesn’t have any­thing in the way of spe­cial pow­ers, so he does what any sen­si­ble guy would do in the face of heav­ily armed at­tack­ers. He runs away. This isn’t an El­der

Scrolls game—although its clos­est ana­log from that se­ries is prob­a­bly

Obliv­ion, thanks to a sim­i­larly bu­colic set­ting and a dis­tinct hint of potato in the ge­netic makeup of its vil­lagers— and the ar­row (al­most) to the knee he takes dur­ing his es­cape doesn’t de­ter him from com­ing back, look­ing for re­venge.

Role up

We’re not sure a game has asked us to bury our dead par­ents be­fore, nor spend quite so long look­ing for a shovel, but we ap­pre­ci­ate King­dom Come: De­liv­er­ance’s ded­i­ca­tion to play­ing a role. You don’t get to cus­tom­ize Henry be­yond lev­el­ing up his skills, which you do by us­ing them and choos­ing perks. There are no classes, and ab­so­lutely no magic (be­yond alchemy) in this most re­al­is­tic of game uni­verses, so Henry’s pro­gres­sion is purely the re­sult of his ac­tions and train­ing.

One of his great­est en­e­mies turns out to be his en­vi­ron­ment. He can climb stairs eas­ily, but fre­quently gets stuck about half­way up. Hedges suck him in, stop­ping progress in any di­rec­tion. It’s not the only is­sue. Guards on pa­trol pass through one another, equip Henry with an axe, and its blade pro­trudes painfully out of his stom­ach, and the words “Move now!” be­came a per­ma­nent fix­ture in the bot­tom right of our screen fol­low­ing a com­bat

tu­to­rial. We’ve also heard re­ports of spon­ta­neous float­ing, par­tic­u­larly when per­form­ing alchemy, and floors that you can fall through.

A reload clears many of the is­sues, un­til the next one comes along, but as there are no quick­saves—only au­to­matic check­points, beds, and an ex­pen­sive tip­ple, Sav­ior Sch­napps, that can leave you with the sort of dele­te­ri­ous ef­fects as­so­ci­ated with a night on the Lam­brini—reload­ing is not al­ways an op­tion when your last save was three towns ago.

Save us

We see why Warhorse Stu­dios im­ple­mented sav­ing the way it did—it adds a fair amount of ten­sion to en­coun­ters, even travel, as you never know when you’ll be set upon by brig­ands, and means that, as each day wears on, you have more to lose. Henry needs to eat, sleep, and main­tain his equip­ment, so maybe you’ll do some­thing dan­ger­ous in the morn­ing, when a reload will cost you less, then spend the af­ter­noon at the forge sharp­en­ing your sword or win­ning money in the af­fa­ble dice mini-game. Death comes eas­ily, es­pe­cially early on when you’re un­der-skilled and armed only with a wood­cut­ter’s axe, so get­ting to a bed where you can sleep and save feels like an achieve­ment.

When not in bed there’s a great deal of com­bat, with a move­ment­based sword-slash sys­tem sim­i­lar to that at­tempted by The El­der Scrolls but im­proved by a lock-on and an in­di­ca­tor of when to block. A yel­low dot marks the cen­ter of the screen at all times, ex­cept when us­ing a bow, which is when it would have been re­ally use­ful.

Per­haps it made archery too easy, and King­dom Come: De­liv­er­ance wouldn’t want that. It’s a game that re­fuses to hold your hand, ex­pos­ing you to the full glare of its sys­tems, me­chan­ics and so­cial hi­er­ar­chies, and ex­pect­ing you to read about them in its ex­haus­tive pas­sages of lore and his­tor­i­cal de­tail. And it’s this kind of de­tail that sets

King­dom Come: De­liv­er­ance apart. Warhorse Stu­dios has poured love into this game, and it shows. The game has a clunky save sys­tem and a lot of bugs to patch, but un­derneath is a heart­felt RPG that im­merses you in a role, a time and a place.

“Warhorse Stu­dios has poured love into this game, and it shows”

far left Some of th­ese sol­diers have some most un­usual ac­cents. Left Rid­ing sees you can­ter or gal­lop, the lat­ter drain­ing your stamina bar as fast as the horse’s if you’re not trained up.

Right Archery is a real skill. You need to learn to an­tic­i­pate the drop of the ar­row, and Henry needs to learn to keep the bow still.

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