Action role-playing game Kingdom Come: Deliverance forsakes some of the usual tropes of the genre such as magic spells and dragons in favour of historical accuracy. Set in 1403 Bohemia, Kingdom Come: Deliverance features Sigsimund, the King of Hungary and Croatia, who kidnaps the rightful ruler of the country King Wenceslaus IV and plunges the country into civil war. You’re Henry, the son of a blacksmith who manages to stave off death after a raid on mining village Skalitz — your home — leaves your friends and family slaughtered. Soon after, you find yourself joining the resistance to avenge your parents and put Wenceslaus back on the throne.
But before you get into any of that, you’ll need to know how to manage yourself. From eating when you’re hungry to following the laws of the land, and even going to bed, everything in Kingdom Come: Deliverance is based on a set of intricate gameplay systems that serve its realistic nature. Each of these are rather deep such as pickpocketing that allows you a few moments to rifling through the purse of your target before escaping with your loot. Spend more time rummaging through their wares and there’s a greater chance of getting something worthwhile but it also increases the chance of detection. Combat is equally nuanced if not more so, sporting an assortment of moves such as stabs, slashes, parries in eight different directions. Archery is dependent on a host of other factors such as trajectory, arrow type, and even the vambraces you wear to hoist projectiles onto a bow.
However, barring combat, most of the elements aren’t explained as well as they should be. The tutorials themselves are simple greyed out overlays with reams of text akin to how simple smartphone apps handle tutorials. They’re clunky in their implementation and far from dynamic. Throw in the wonkiness of others like lock picking and you have a set of things that, while accurate, aren’t exactly fun to do.
All of this results in an overwhelming sense of clunkiness in handling yourself in Kingdom Come: Deliverance. Some elements, such as combat, get better with practise thanks to weapon variety. Others like speech craft aren’t as fortunate. You can get through the game without lifting a sword, but given its nature — where your speech skills are pitted against those you’re talking to and you aren’t made aware of your chances of success — it ends up being more random than you’d like. It doesn’t help matters that Kingdom Come: Deliverance doesn’t explain fail states like being poisoned well enough, leaving you wondering what you ate to cause your death. At times it feels that the adherence to realism is at odds with progressing through its meaty, nuanced story.
Coupling these gameplay mechanics are bugs aplenty. From quests that outright glitch themselves midway, refusing to activate key points unless we reloaded our save file, to cut-scenes that have your character merging into others, there’s more than a fair share of jank. This makes Kingdom Come: Deliverance feel like a game that seems in alpha instead of a version 1.1 release that it is right now after a 23GB day one patch. An inconsistent frame rate that sees it dip perceptibly indoors while remaining stable outdoors doesn’t help matters either. Plus, there are loading screens aplenty and arbitrary - you could be opening the game map or simply talking to a merchant or a trader and you’ll be met with a loading screen.
Nonetheless, Kingdom Come: Deliverance looks good on the PS4 Pro. Thanks to a welcome amount of detail in its environments from sprawling castles to small villages and everything in between, as well as slick voice acting and witty dialogue, the game is not a total mess. Thrown in combat that grows on you and an interesting plot with some remarkable characters such as the unscrupulous miller Pashek as well as the seemingly spoiled lord Hans Capon and you have an RPG that has you glued to your screen if you can tolerate all of its technical concerns and gameplay issues.
For a game of this magnitude you’d think you could save as often as you needed to alleviate some potential concerns but Kingdom Come: Deliverance won’t let you do that. Instead, it relies on you to buy saviour schnapps, an in-game item that lets you save as and when you choose. If you aren’t able to buy saviour schnapps, you’re subject to the game’s own auto-save system which doesn’t inspire much confidence, more so when a glitched quest line set back our progress by a fair bit. One could argue that the Warhorse Studios could fix most of these with updates and the game has already seen a hefty one, but things are still rough. Sure, open-world games are far from perfect in this regard and there have been other offenders like the super-popular Skyrim, but Kingdom Come: Deliverance feels like it needed more time in development.
At the moment, we’d recommend waiting this one out until it gets a few more updates. Underneath a myriad of technical muddles lies a serviceable RPG, although right now, it’s nowhere close to what it could be.
Rating (out of 10): 5
Gadgets 360 played an early retail copy of Kingdom Come: Deliverance on the PS4 Pro. The game is available on the PS4 at Rs. 3,999, on Xbox One at Rs. 3,990, and on the PC at Rs. 1,179.