Kingdom Come: Deliverance is a let's-charitably-call-it-"brave" attempt to create a highly realistic and historically accurate immersive RPG set in 15th century Bohemia, but forget all that. What the fuck would have been the problem with just calling it "Kingdom Come"? Why bolt a meaningless fucking subtitle to the end, except to add an unnecessary roundabout to the otherwise perfectly straight road of any spoken sentence containing the name? Yes, I've harped on this before, but if you're still showing the symptoms, then keep taking your medicine, motherfucker! "Kingdom Come" by itself would have been a perfectly appropriate and snappy title, and what's more, it would have emphasized the "come" part, which would have been fitting, because that's what the game is covered in.
But we get ahead of ourselves. After the death of the beloved Charles IV, his heir, Wenceslaus, of "Good King..." fame, proceeds to, in a very literal sense, fuck things up royally, until his half-brother Sigismund imprisons him and starts smashing up the countryside for giggles. At the outset, none of this means a whole lot to our main character, Henry, a peasant blacksmith's son who's more concerned about the day-to-day doings of a medieval peasant, which is to say, covering himself in shit. There's even a mechanic where certain speech and charisma checks are affected if you show up covered in shit, which is pretty fucking unfair, because it's medieval times, and the only thing that isn't covered in shit is the clouds, and only because no one's built a big enough siege tower.
There's no character customization in Kingdom Come; wouldn't want you to pick a female protagonist and have to change the entire plot to "get sold to a Norwegian duke and die in childbirth". So you're stuck with Henry, who everyone seems to think is a fresh-faced teenage boy, but is clearly a big strapping bloke in his twenties, or as it was known at the time, middle-aged. Soon enough, his village and parents get smashed up for giggles and he must venture into the world, and this is where the whole "deliverance" subtitle becomes relevant, because Henry's last job before shit went cloudwards was to deliver a sword to the local bigwig, and the first twenty-odd hours of the main plot revolve around his struggle to recover the sword so he can finish delivering it. And everyone seems to realize how fucking stupid he's being about this; even the bigwig in question flat-out says to him, "Dude, I've got swords! I own a fucking castle! I could eat a sword a day from now 'til Michaelmas and never run dry! Chill the fuck out!" But no, honor is on the line and Henry is channeling the spirit of every pizza boy to fall foul of the "get it in thirty minutes or it's free" policy.
So we're in a Witcher-y, Skyrim-y sort of immersive RPG area, the kind where it's way too easy to make tons and tons of money, because every time you kill someone, you can nick everything they have, right down to their jockstraps and tampons, and run to a pawn shop, or rather, waddle to a pawn shop holding your trousers up because we're overburdened again. There are a lot of things to admire in Kingdom Come in My Pants; it is nice to see a game actually try and teach us something about real history, since Assassin's Creed dropped its in-game encyclopedia to focus more on charging twenty extra bucks for the Gold-Plated Super-Historical Edition. And the commitment to realism is certainly very earnest, going so far as to factor in what you're wearing and holding and how clean you are when you're talking to people; it was always jarring in Dragon Age when you were gamely snarking with NPCs while visibly drenched in about three pints of their former acquaintances.
But I'm saying all these nice things so that I can get to the main gut-punch of this review, which is that the combat is fucking terrible. I'd think of some clever, wordier way of putting that, but honestly, I can't convey my feelings any better than my just saying that again in a weary, emphatic tone of voice. "Fucking terrible!"
It's doing a sort of For Honor angle-of-attack-based stamina management thing, but makes the age-old mistake of trying to incorporate the controls that are normally for controlling the camera. So with either the mouse or right analog stick, we're supposed to rotate our sword to one of five possible angles - an inexact science in itself - but every now and again, the game spaces out and forgets it's using the camera controls for something else now. "Okay, I guess you want to look over to the right instead of changing your sword angle. I mean, it's not like there's a jaunty fellow shuffling back and forth like a lemur on a unicycle who's about to stick his polearm down your ear!" And then, after you pick your angle and press the button to slash your sword, about half an hour of camera jiggling passes and then the slash happens. This is where a third-person camera might be helpful, 'cos I'd really like to know what the fuck Henry is doing all the time he's not slashing his fucking sword while I'm fucking telling him to! Reading the instruction manual?
What makes it worse is that, as you get hit, you lose maximum stamina as well as health. Realistic, I'll grant you - I'd probably be less up for this morning's CrossFit after a hairy European has split my nose in half - but it means that if you start losing, you'll almost certainly keep losing. And none of this would be so bad if it weren't for - and get your zoot suits on, 'cos this is a fucking retro pisser - the limited save system! Yes, saving the game requires a limited item, because clearly, anyone who has to step out for an urgent appointment or funeral isn't showing enough commitment for the game's liking. See, this is why backwards compatibility is important: because without the context of history, we forget that all the stupid fucking ideas were stupid fucking ideas! All this is doing is making me lose three hours of progress because I got caught off-guard by a random combat encounter on the road with two guys and they got a bunch of lucky shots in while I was still fumbling to get out my weapon that handles like a depleted-uranium ironing board.
"Oh, but Yahtz! Surely it's an immersive RPG! Why don't you just play as a non-direct-combat-focused character?" Oh, right. You mean like an archer, when your aim wobbles like a meth addict in a crystal cavern and there's no targeting reticle, so you'd have better luck sticking your arrows up a cat's arse and making it fart them out? But I take your point, and managed to get pretty far into the game avoiding conflict mainly by winning speech checks or stealthing up and getting a few crafty slashes in before they can react.
But then, I reached a point where I was supposed to join a big raid on a bandit camp with twenty other lads, which took six or seven tries because victory was hinging on all my NPC helpers pulling their weight, and that was like expecting a team of sled dogs to help with your maths homework. But finally, we managed to breach the inner camp and Henry decides he's going to fight the bandit leader by himself, in a fucking Thunderdome. And then, I had to give up on the whole game, because I could barely get one hit in before he wiped the fucking floor with me!
Fuck "realism"! The realistic approach would have been to let me lure him out of the fucking Thunderdome and get my sixteen heavily-armed mates to pass him around for sweaty cock-slaps. But nope! Fuck player choice! Fuck your build! It's standard boss fights or into the bin with you! So bollocks to Kingdom Come, but I reserve the biggest and most suffocating bollocks for those twats I saw on the Steam discussion forums praising its obnoxious qualities and asking the devs not to change the save system because if they did, then "plebs" might get into it. Fuck you, toffee-nosed PC Master Race shitheads! I wish I'd named you something else now, like the "PC Gaming Dick-Slurp All-Stars"!
- Comes once a year: Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw
- Suddenly we remember why this sort of game usually puts a bunch of dragons and wizards around them to liven things up
- Hail to the king baby