The development process of Kingdom Come: Deliverance is hardly one that’s been shy of the promotional spotlight. Warhorse Studios began developing Deliverance in 2014, with a total of 110 employees working around the clock to bring us what we have today. Warhorse announced mid-2017 that the core game was complete, and that they would then spend the next several months fine-tuning and polishing the overall experience. The game has been promised to offer tens of hours worth of play, with much more on top of that through additional questing. It’s a game that’s clearly ambitious in both scope and design, but does the delivery live up to the expectation? I can safely say that it does, and then some.
Kingdom Come Deliverance takes place in the early 1400s, located in the heart of Europe, Bohemia. Following the death of beloved ruler Emperor Charles IV, the kingdom has been thrown into disarray. A naive Wenceslas (the heir) was unable to step up to the plate, his half brother on the other hand saw this weakness as an opportunity to get a foot in and seize the power for himself. Fueled by greed, Sigismund kidnapped Wenceslas and unleashed his army on the region. Caught up in the middle of all of this chaos is an ordinary guy known as Henry, the son of a blacksmith. Henry’s run-of-the-mill life is torn to shreds when a raid ordered by Sigismund himself sees the burning of your home village. Fortunately for Henry, he manages to climb from the ashes and survive the whole ordeal.
Left with no home or future, you find yourself in a resistance that’s fighting the very invading forces that have caused you the hardship. Now, from here on out, Henry will engage in the bloody and brutal conflict of a civil war – fighting for the very future of Bohemia. Let me make something very clear from the get-go, this is a game of realism and authenticity. It’s not a game that will hold your hand or take it easy on you. You’re going to have to work your ass off for even the smallest slices of victory, but the rewarding sense of play that you’re constantly subject to throughout, is well worth the challenge. Henry is your run-of-the-mill nobody. He’s not skilled at anything but his profession. However, after the shocking ordeal within, he has an axe to grind and big old bag of pent-up vengeance, but it’s going to take time and perseverance to deliver that rage to those responsible.
The vast open world of Bohemia rivals that of Wild Hunt’s sprawling map. Life is everywhere, and it’s portrayed in Deliverance with such depth and beauty that it’s far too easy to be distracted. NPCs go about their daily routines throughout the several towns and villages within, wildlife will continuously test boundaries and curiously move through their habitats, and even the blood-thirsty money-hungry bandits house their unique behaviors. The time in which this game is set may well indeed be dark and desperate, but to relay all of that across a gorgeously well realized (massive) map, is an achievement in itself. There’s always something to take you off the beaten path, be it a hunt or merely following someone to see what they’re up to. It’s far from the largest map that we’ve seen in an open world RPG, but it’s right up there in terms of quality and intrigue. Furthermore, the level of freedom given to the player is exceptional, ensuring that there’s always more than one way to skin the proverbial cat.
Taking on the role of a nobody comes with its pros and cons. You’re still by and large going to be served with a plethora of everyone else’s work, but every step in this game is a step towards a goal, towards something bigger. Deliverance isn’t a game that works for you, but instead has you working tooth and nail for it. Your capabilities are only limited by your enthusiasm to put in the effort that’s needed to accomplish specific tasks and quests. Doing so will ensure that Henry becomes more capable in several fields, such as practicing your swordsmanship with guard or drinking yourself stupid with a monk. These systems feed into one another extraordinarily well, unifying Henry’s overall prowess in a range of different ways. That being said, the game does shoehorn you at times. Mandatory events will require that you’re skilled at certain aspects within, meaning that it truly pays off to focus and pay attention to all that this experience offers.
Combat doesn’t always have to be the most obvious answer to your problems. As aforementioned, Deliverance is big on player choice, and that freedom pulls through magnificently. Want to sneak up on your foes and poison them instead of taking them head-on? Why not! Fancy stealthily making your way to their place of rest and murdering them whilst they sleep? Sure thing! That’s not to say that you can disregard combat entirely, far from it. Deliverance relies on your combat skills throughout key stages of the story. Thankfully, it’s easy to get to grips with and proves to be quite intuitive. You cant button mash your opponents to death, but instead must observe their combat patterns. The player is free to decide what direction to swipe their swords in, as well as when to parry and block. Great timing and good judgement will aid you in combat.
The difference between taking advantage of an opening in your enemies stance to land a blow, to offering them an opening of your own, will be the difference between life and death. The two right triggers serve as you attack commands, with the left bumper offering a block. You can angle your right analog stick with a full 360 degrees to rely on, which will swing your weapon in different ways. Each attack that you successful land will injure wherever you connect it to, and if you can pull off a few solid hits, you’re likely to win. Neither you nor your enemy have limitless health, this is Bohemia after all, not Skyrim. That’s not to mention when you’re fighting multiple foes at once, which becomes a much more frantic and chaotic event. At times like this it often pays off to contemplate how you should approach the situation.
Keep in mind that you’re not the only one with an axe to grind in Bohemia. You can alert the authorities and let them take care of trouble for you, or even tag along with them for some extra manpower. You also don’t have to rely on steel to send your opponents to a well deserved grave, for example, you can advance your archery skills and pick off the enemy from a farther distance. This is where hunting comes in handy. Bohemia is teeming with wildlife, such as rabbits and deer, eagerly awaiting you to test their reflexes with your speed and skill. If I haven’t already made it clear enough, Deliverance is jam packed with several well developed systems that advance Henry in one form or another, topped off with a sharp edge of realism and authenticity to keep the desperate era in perspective.
The save system is interesting, and I don’t suspect it will please everyone. The game will auto-save at certain points during play. However, you can also manually save by either sleeping in your own bed, visiting a bathhouse, or drinking Schnapps. Schnapps is given to you by certain people, but you can indeed advance your alchemy skills and brew this yourself, later in the game. I reiterate that this wont please everyone. You see, you cannot heal or change your weaponry during combat, meaning that if you’re caught off-guard and haven’t saved in a while, you either better make like a tree and leave, or best your opposition. That is, if you don’t want to lose the progress you have made since your last save. Despite the solid combat mechanics, each fight remains challenging throughout. Especially when you’re face to face with bandits, assassins, and Sigismund’s army. The pace of combat is a bit slower than expected, but it suits the formula nevertheless.
Outside of swords and bows, other weaponry includes axes, bludgeons, shields, and more. Each weapon, piece of armor or clothing, hell, even the practice of law, has all been implemented to faithfully depict the time in which this game is set. That means what everything you will see within (save the story of Henry) is factual. The game is crammed with neat additions like this. That also goes for the places of interest, or even some of the NPCs too. It gives off a vibe that feels genuine and realistic, knowing that what you’re witnessing on-screen is likely to have happened in history at one point or another. Warhorse have done their homework, and they simply need to be commended for that. Topping it all off is the fact that Deliverance is full of secrets to uncover, so long as you put the extra legwork in. You could lose yourself for hours in this game and feel like you’ve made very little progress whatsoever, which is a compliment. I spent a lot of time learning how to pickpocket, lock pick, dice gamble, horse ride, and much more. There’s no shortage of content, that’s for sure, and that’s putting it lightly.
On the flip side, this level of depth isn’t exclusive to a singular portion of the game. There’s layer upon layer of depth to be found everywhere. Take for example if you don’t eat, you’ll become drained and tired. Want to talk to those of a higher class? You best make sure you wash beforehand or else sacrifice some of your charisma. You really need to pay attention to succeed in Deliverance, and although many events and situations can be tackled in a range of different ways, you can indeed find yourself making a permanent decision or impression that proves much harder to undo or make right. NPCs pay careful attention to your person, often pointing out that you have blood on your sleeve or that you stink of shit. Deliverance isn’t just about revenge, it’s about keeping up appearances, working hard, and thinking harder, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
It helps, of course, that the story is as captivating as it is. Upheld by stellar voice acting across the board. The game performs with very little issue or fault, which only highlights Warhorse’s commitment to deliver a well optimized and well developed experience. The visuals across the entirety of the map are well designed and absolutely jaw dropping. They’re pretty diverse too. This is all padded with a metric ton of quests and side quests, many of which will have an outcome that’s unique depending on your actions. Regardless as to how brutal (this game is pretty damn graphic) or gentle you play each event out. I have to comment the music too, which is so well put together and once again, authentic. Even the sound effects are genuine. Take the noise of vomiting, for example, this noise was captured from a Warhorse employee following a night out, and a bit too much to drink. That’s attention to detail right there.
Warhorse have developed a game that’s not only massively in-depth, but equally as intriguing and captivating. Their care and attention to detail pulls through in each and every sequence within. This level of realism isn’t going to be for everyone, but for those that want the authentic experience, Deliverance delivers, and then some. It’s engaging, it’s deep, and it’s thoroughly entertaining.
This game was tested and reviewed on Xbox One. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version.