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Monday, October 1, 2018

Review: Pathfinder Kingmaker
















Thank god for Kickstarter - Pathfinder:Kingmaker is fun old school RPG like Neverwinter Nights with unique mechanics. Currently, a few bugs and balancing issues still exist. Read the full review. 

Total Verdict: 7/10

Story: 10/10
Characters: 8/10
Features: 9/10 (Dynamic Character Building, Camping, Kingdom Management, Advisers)
Learning Curve: 6/10
Fun: 7/10
Variety: 7/10
Addiction: 7/10
Smoothness: 7/10
Graphics: 10/10
Sound: 8/10

You will like this game if you like: old-school RPGs, town management

Games You Might Also Like: Nevewrwinter Nights 1 & 2, Dragon Age Origins
Total Play Time: 10 hours so far

When I saw Pathfinder:Kingmaker for circa £21 on cdkeys.com I decided to spoil myself. However, it was the Steam version. The game looks exactly like the kind of game I would adore. My husband than pointed out if I pre-order it on gog.com we both can play it, and I would get an Owlcat Pet. The Owlcat won.

Let's get it started!

When the game started, I suddenly felt transported to the feeling when I had playing Dragon Age:Origins, or Neverwinter Nights (2). Epic music made me excited for the journey to come.


















I love creating characters - and immediately processed to do so, instead of taking one of the pre-set characters. And the decision was a good one: I could create a druid! I love druids. Summoning animals is my favourite thing in an RPG. Let the beasts fight while I run away. Genius. Pokemon style. Druids usually can also do some healing, and some distance magic spells, while still not sucking at close combat. And the character creation had lots of manual choices to offer. I could chose my companion (dog of course!), pick my skills (which sounded very intriguing, as you have skills in athletics and persuasion), and decide whether my character should be a bad-ass or angel. It did not take too long (which is great, because if you spend hours creating your character just to realise you want to restart, it is kind of a bummer) but long enough for me to enjoy the process.


Story: 10/10

You are a mercenary - you are not a chosen one, Jesus, or saviour. You are send on a mission to defeat bandits in the Stolen Lands, and whoever will bring back the head of their leader, will get to rule the new kingdom. One night before you start your journey as a group of hired heroes however, Assassins attack the castle you have been summoned to. After fighting off the assassins, you learn that they suspect you, and another mercenary, as potential spies within the ranks. How else would they have known about the plans to take the Stolen Lands? But you have been tricked, and now need to prove your innocence. Based on your previous actions, different mercenaries decide to join you or your rival, and you are set out to your first quest to prove your honesty.

Characters: 8/10

My group turned out to be a kick-ass woman group. A barbarian, a fighter, a bard and a druid go into a bar... love my ladies.
Linzi is a lovable bard, and while I never liked playing bards, I somehow was so happy she decided to join me. She is very handy, as she fights from distance and is good at disabling traps.
Valerie and Amiri are a fighter and a barbarian. Barbarian is another class I never particularly played - so I went with the flow, forcing me to try something new. And I loved it. Amiri is just pure power. However after playing for a bit I noticed they are ALL cliched. There is no surprise in their character or stories.

Features: 10/10


Dynamic Character Building

The character building as mentioned before is really fun. It is basically the same as Neverwinter Nights 1/2, where you can level up in different classes and are not forced to stick with any class. That means you can be a Sorcerer/Fighter or whatever else you want to be.

















Camping
Camping reminds be of a mix between Dragon Age Origins and Vikings: Expeditions. You can rest, reset your spells and refill your HP, while different characters can be assigned to different tasks. It is all done in a very lovely and thought through way: Valerie was is a horrible cook, and her burned food attracted some unwanted attention.

Party Member Hire

Apparently you can hire party members for 2,000 gold, which I really want to try out. However, at this point, this is unfortunately a game-breaking bug. Just for reference, it took me about three hours into the game to acquire 2,000 gold (that I cannot spend).

Random Encounters
Random encounters remind me a lot of Neverwinter Nights 2, where you had a random small-ish map. However, while in Neverwinter Nights 2 I never noticed it, this time I felt like those maps were all looking the same, incredibly large but empty (except 2-3 enemies). 

Kingdom Management
The Kingdom Management was for me the key selling point (and the Owlcat, of course). The only problem with that one - after playing for ages, I still didn't get to manage a kingdom. Where the hell is my kingdom?? Considering that this was a key selling point I expected this to happen earlier. 10 hours in and there is still nothing. So far, just an adventure RPG game, very much like Neverwinter Nights. It is important before you buy the game to be aware that this game is not exactly what you might expect it to be. After 10 or so hours however, I finally got my kingdom. 


You start with a capital city. There are 9 squares you can choose to place buildings on (plus a separate square for a pier, and another one separate from the city where you can either put a watchtower or a mill).

















The buildings you can choose provide different stats for your realm (e.g. a Barracks will give you a +1 Stability). You can combine different buildings to improve stats further (e.g. if you build both a Barracks and a Watchtower, you will get bonus stats for your realm). These conditions seem to be based around either another building being present in the town as well, or two buildings being built next to each other - so you'll probably want to plan out which buildings you'll choose and how you'll lay them out in the town to maximise bonuses.


















Building requires Building Points (BP), which you can get each turn, or trade for. You can also use this to expand your realm - just pay the BP, and send an adviser on a mission to expand, and a week later your realm is larger. You can then build more towns in these areas, and 'harvest' any natural resources on the map (e.g. fertile land for growing food, or tourist areas).

















Advisers
You can choose from some of the NPCs you meet, or party members. Over time you can unlock new ones, either as you advance the story or complete quests. Each adviser can go into a specific role focused one of the stats for your realm. The adviser provides a boost for this (e.g. +4 for Loyalty), but you also have to balance their opinions and worldviews - because they'll be making decisions for you, if you pick someone who you disagree with you may end up with results that you wouldn't have chosen yourself.


















Learning Curve: 6/10
And here we start addressing the issues with this game. There are quite a few, starting with the learning curve.
My husband actually told me he created a Cleric, that does no damage, always misses and all his spells fail. While I did laugh at him first, I noticed my Druid also kind of sucks.
So restarting the game to create a new character? Yup, that is what he did. And suddenly he defeated everything easily with a sorcerer.
There are some serious balancing issues in that game. Turning down the difficulty, which you can do easily anytime during the game, makes the game waaaaay  too easy. But putting it one scale up, makes it impossible to survive. Urgh, why??

Fun: 7/10

It would be such a fun game - if it would not be for the bugs. I do not like challenging games very much, but rather enjoy it on an easy / normal setting. And even though I put it at that, I died already 10 times after only 2 hours into the game. I had to make it super easy to defeat those stupid spider swarm (advice: only fire / torches help against these sneaky bugs).
Somehow, fighting is also not as fun as it was in Dragon Age or Neverwinter Nights 1/2. It does not even come close to the joy of fighting in Tower of Time. Something is missing and I struggle to put my finger on it.

Variety: 7/10

Why do all random encounter maps look the same? I expected in Dragon Age 2 all maps to look the same, and it didn't bother me too much. But here it kind of does.

Addiction: 7/10

I actually had to force myself back to the game because I wanted to write a review that covers more than three hours game play.

Smoothness: 7/10

Too many bugs at the moment.

Graphics: 9/10

Isometric RPGs are my "thang", so of course I love the way the game looks. Beautiful, cartoon-style graphics make it timeless. I was especially in love with all the cute animals running around in the map. What? They were cute.

Sound: 8/10

The epic music in the loading screen reminded me immediately of Dragon Age Origin, and the music is good throughout the came. However, as a Druid I have a dog companion that drives me ABSOLUTELY NUTS. He keeps whining ALL THE TIME and scratching himself. Do I really have to hear it? And it is so loud, it even is louder than the music. Stupid dog. So, if you ever dreamed of having a whiny, flee ridden dog, this game is for you. 

Start your own adventure in Pathfinder Kingmaker and buy it on Steam, Gog, or if you want to save money, on Kinguin here 

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