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'Kingdom Come: Deliverance' is a Somber, Realistic Medieval RPG

Nothing says, “Welcome to medieval Bohemia,” quite like a swordfight where you are outnumbered, in poor health, and fighting for not only your own survival, but for the survival of the kingdom. This is a scenario you will encounter numerous times throughout your journey in “Kingdom Come: Deliverance,” and it never gets old. Balancing proper rest, food (and alcohol) consumption, skill training, side quests, and main quests can often feel burdensome, but the tension and realism that “KC:D” brings to the table makes it all worth it.

“KC:D” is an open world role-playing game from developer Warhorse Studios. You are dropped into medieval Bohemia, a kingdom of the Holy Roman Empire in the heart of Europe. Upon the death of acclaimed Emperor Charles IV, his son, Wenceslas, inherits the throne. Wenceslas is not nearly the beloved ruler that his father was, and his half-brother Sigismund wants to claim the throne for himself. As the King of Hungary, Sigismund commands an army that descends on Bohemia, attempting to wrestle the kingdom away from Wenceslas. When this war reaches your doorstep in the town of Skalitz, you are forced to embark on a journey that will change your life. “KC:D”’s story is compelling, emotional, and based on great historical research. The world Warhorse Studios has created is rich with detail. From the NPCs to the dialogue options to the visual fidelity, there are aspects of a AAA game present here.

Although the combat is difficult, it is one of the most rewarding systems of any game in recent memory. Mastering it takes legitimate practice and effort, and even seasoned RPG players will likely have a rough time adapting. “KC:D” does not waste any time with the basics, either. Within the first half-hour of the story the player is tasked with getting money back from the town drunkard, and things get violent. This is one of the greatest aspects of “KC:D.” It does not hold the player’s hand. The player is not constantly reminded of their objective. Instead, the game gives the player the freedom to do as they please and tackle the quests when and if they feel like it. Coupled with the intense realism of the combat mechanics and the extreme historical accuracy, the game is extremely immersize. The characters are deep and engaging, allowing for real relationships complicated by tough choices. Placing the responsibility of decision-making on the player rather than the story’s writers adds depth and meaning to every encounter. Thanks to the complexity of the game’s mechanics and its narrative freedom, it is possible for each player to have an entirely unique playthrough. All these factors combine to make “Kingdom Come: Deliverance” an incredibly compelling game.

The game isn’t perfect, though. Its pacing is slow, and most players who are used to modern RPGs may not feel like they are accomplishing enough. This game requires patience, planning, and dedication. With a main questline that, according to the developers, takes between 30 and 50 hours to complete, it is no cake-walk. Factor in the side quests and all the balancing previously mentioned, and you are in for hundreds of hours of gameplay. With that in mind, this is a game that you should really be ready to sink your teeth into. The combat system is intentionally difficult and requires considerable effort to become proficient with. You will die countless times, and the atrocious save system “KC:D” implements is no help.

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In an attempt to be more realistic, the game only auto-saves on the completion of quests. There are only two other ways to save the game: drink “Saviours Schnapps,” something hard to come by early on which costs valuable Groschen, the in-game currency; or find a bed in which to sleep. Rather than adding depth, the save mechanic often takes away from the otherwise engrossing gameplay by forcing the player to constantly consider how much of the game will need to be replayed if they cannot save. Saving is by far the most topical of annoyances in this expansive game. The inclusion of so many systems means that at least one was bound to be more infuriating than engaging.

In "KC:D," that system is lockpicking. The lockpicking design in “KC:D” is infuriating. Not only are the lockpicks themselves hard to come by early on, but the act of lockpicking is no fun at all. To put things into perspective, two of the most popular mods for “KC:D” make changes to the saving and lockpicking. Aside from these two specific qualms, the game is just generally buggy. Frequent crashing and poor optimization leads to an experience that could have been so much more.

Ultimately, “Kingdom Come: Deliverance” has a lot of potential. Warhorse Studios has been vocal about working to fix issues that players are having, and with a few changes it can be a top-tier RPG. “KC:D” is similar to the earlier games in the “Elder Scrolls” series mixed with the complexity and brutality of “Dark Souls.” If you like open-world RPGs and are looking for one to sink hundreds of hours into, “Kingdom Come: Deliverance” should be your next purchase.

—Staff writer Dylan B. Meade can be reached at dylan.meade@thecrimson.com.

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