I’ve been hearing about Kingdom Come: Deliverance for a very long time. Any time I would jump on Steam it would be there staring at me. It’d show up on the main page where I’d dismissively read about it. It showed up in my Steam queue, the gaming equivalent of Tinder, where I’d check and see how hot it looked and maybe skim a few details before I usually just swipe left and see what other oddballs and miscreants that weird queue algorithm would toss my way. I saw plenty about it, but was always dismissive. I’d never heard of developer Warhorse Studios and they didn’t have any obvious hit titles under their belt, which didn’t help their pitch. When we were given the opportunity to give it the ConCal review treatment — which consists of desperately clawing time in somewhere to play between work or children or psychotic breakdowns — I decided I’d give it a shot.
I actually wound up being mostly impressed.
Kingdom Come: Deliverance drops you into the medieval world of Bohemia. To put the story simply, the good king has died, his loser son is the new king, and the brother of the loser ain’t happy and is handling things in the usual way of medieval politics: by use of force with angry, rapey mercenaries from a far off land. You play the role of Henry, son of the blacksmith in Skalitz. You live the life of a peasant, though being the son of the local lord’s blacksmith, you’re a slightly more important peasant; a Level 2 Peasant, if you will.
You start off by running random peasant-y errands, and then things go south quickly. Without giving too much away, the political climate quickly changes in Skalitz and this is where the adventure begins. Though, if you aren’t careful it’ll end just as quickly.
The only way that I can really describe this game is to compare it to its more well-known cousin series, The Elder Scrolls. Kingdom Come definitely is built on the inspiration of Bethesda’s long-running open-world RPG series. However, where Skyrim had you flinging spells at mythical creatures and zombies, Kingdom Come is grounded a lot more in reality. Instead of your first quest being something along the lines of “find the lair of the zombie goblin and bring his crystallized eyeball to the Fire Wizard of Fartstink Keep” — which sounds friggin’ awesome if you ask me — it’ll be more along the lines of “grab a beer for dear old dad, make sure it’s a cold one.” Bohemia is not a land of high fantasy. Fanatical religious beliefs, yeah, but I’ve yet to see any divine beings laying down some smotes.
It’s this grounding in reality that anchors most systems in Kingdom Come:Deliverance. For basics, you have to eat and stay nourished or it’ll affect your character. You have to get enough rest or you’ll be tired. If you’re dirty and smelly, people won’t want to talk to you and it becomes harder to sneak; so you’ll have to do laundry, whether at a professional or clean yourself off as best as you can in a trough by a barn.
They’ve even translated this into the game’s combat systems. Are you like me and like to play a sneaky bastard with a bow? Well, hope you’re a good shot as there is no crosshair on the bow, and unless you started with a few points in archery you’ll actually probably hurt yourself using the bow: the string injures your arm if you’re unskilled and not wearing vambraces, which is something they don’t really tell you until about an hour or so too late.
Maybe you consider yourself a swordsman? Well, rather than hacking and slashing your way through life, you’re going to have to learn some real sword techniques and timing, or even the clumsy bandits with big sticks will make short work of your panting, clueless mass. These concepts also find their way into hand to hand combat – plus you get a nice wussy kick to use. Once battle is said and done, you better make sure to sharpen and maintain your weapon after battles, or your dull hunk of metal won’t be as effective.
Well, at least you’re able to sneak in a save before a tricky section of a quest, right? That way if you mess up you can just re-load and try again. Nope. Can’t do that. You’re going to have to live with your decisions unless you have a bottle of “Savior’s Schnapps” – a beverage that saves the game, but is expensive for the early part of the game and tricky to make if you don’t know how. This is the only thing with the system that ultimately bothers me. Not because I’m not man enough to deal with how my cards are dealt, but because sometimes you just need to go to bed and the next auto savepoint is about an hour away. I’ve lost a few hours because of this and is probably going to be a huge point of pissery for the average gamer.
All these things become a part of you eventually, it just takes a little time to get past your “gamer muscle memory” on some things. One thing, though, that will feel at home is inclusion of some bugs. Yes, KC:D is part of the open-world RPG family tree, so of course it gets some of the genetic issues within that family.
Personally, I’ve experienced some weird things in stealth and field of vision (FOV). I was in an empty house, picking the lock to try to get some new shoes and it said I was spotted. But there was no one near me at all and I didn’t think anything of it. Later, at another town that was very far away, I was captured by a guard and forced to pay my dues for my crime. Apparently, someone 20 miles away saw me through a wall and decided to be a tattle tale!
I’ve also had some combat issues where bushes will throw me into the air 50 feet for no reason and I fall to my death. Other folks have reported the usual suspects: pathing issues, getting clipped into scenery, NPCs not responding correctly. But, aside from getting clipped on some doorways, I haven’t seen much of those.
Overall, I’ve been impressed with Kingdom Come: Deliverance. Part of that may have come with not expecting much, but Warhorse has made a mountain out of a molehill — especially considering the size of their team for this, versus some of their juggernaut counterparts. Once (see also, “if“, as this game seems huge) I finally finish Henry’s story, I’ll put together some final thoughts. For now, about 16 hours in, I’m gleefully optimistic that this will continue to be a great experience.
If you’re interested, I’ll be streaming this on Thursday nights at 8pm EST on my Mixer channel, or at least when able to.
Note: This article contains affiliate links to one of our partners, Humble Bundle. This link is provided purely for information & advertising purposes and had zero effect on our decision to review or promote this game.