Kingdom Come: Deliverance is an Impressive Effort on a lower budget
I've been interested in Kingdom Come: Deliverance for a while now. The hardcore angle of the gameplay mechanics isn't always my thing, so I consigned it to the "buy a disc copy in case I want to trade it in" bucket inside my brain.
And then no one locally had any copies in stock for a couple of months. Because it's just selling and selling and selling.
I'm not going to get into the controversy surrounding the politics of the lead designer....beyond this paragraph. He was but one of several writers on the game. While I don't personally agree with all of his viewpoints...I don't personally 100 percent agree with most other people, because we're all different. And I think he's explained the origins of his views well enough after being grilled by the world that they don't strike me as unjustified by his personal experience.
Having played a couple of hours of Kingdom Come: Deliverance...it totally seems like a video game. In fact, in having its first lines of dialogue spoken by the main character's mother...it starts out kinder to women than 30 percent of other video game narratives.
The most impressive thing out of the gate in KCD is its visual fidelity. Powered by the latest version of Cryengine, the game flies along at a smooth clip on my Xbox One X, rendering a world with several photorealistic elements. I showed some of the game to my girlfriend and she said "That looks like video of a real bush" on first seeing the title screen.
The art style balances realistic texturing and lighting work with characters that are stylized just enough to successfully avoid the uncanny valley. The game makes exhaustive use of Cryengine's excellent character animation system in lengthy dialogue sequences and cinematic cutscenes, delivering character performances that rival those in much bigger-budget video games.
Now, the ~100 person team behind KCD was bigger than the minuscule 14-person team that made Hellblade, and not that much smaller than Bethesda's core team...but compared to the 1000+ people that work on every Ubisoft game, suddenly the game's achievements come to light. KCD puts every dollar of its budget right there on the screen.
I also like that the game has an adjustable FOV, even on console...and by default its wider than many other console games.
If you're not familiar with the underlying concept of the game, imagine Skyrim but without the more fantastical elements....and with a huge dollop of simulation added on top. As someone that recently spent time decrying the lack of simulation elements in modern games, the opening of KCD has been a delight, and I can't wait to dive into the rest of it.
Also, in digging through the achievements on Xbox One, I noticed that an astounding 85 percent of players have completed every quest in the game. That's a wildly high percentage for a game of this size and magnitude, and it shows just how grabby the game's surprisingly fleshed-out narrative is.
Rather than going with the typical video game power fantasy, KCD casts you as this dude named Henry who starts out as kind of a doofus. He can barely lift a sword, and he starts the game oversleeping for his day of work at his father's forge. Just like Henry, you as the player have to learn a great deal about the world in order to succeed, and that's very interesting. The progression here will probably have a tremendous innate appeal to you if you've ever enjoyed a game in the Souls series.
I can't promise that I'll finish the game, but I will say that in my early time with it I've found it more enjoyable than I expected from all the talk about its difficulty. And there's no denying its visual splendor. And I'm also glad I'm playing the game after it had several patches...which it seems like the team is still diligently working on.