About This Game
With the help of over 18,000 Kickstarter backers, Narrative Designer Chris Avellone and composer Inon Zur, Owlcat Games is proud to bring you the first isometric computer RPG set in the beloved Pathfinder tabletop universe. Enjoy a classic RPG experience inspired by games like Baldur’s Gate, Fallout 1 and 2 and Arcanum. Explore and conquer the Stolen Lands and make them your kingdom!
Explore the Stolen Lands, a region that has been contested territory for centuries. Hundreds of kingdoms have risen and fallen in these lands, and now it is time for you to make your mark—by building your own kingdom! To do so, you’ll need to survive the harsh wilderness and the threat of rival nations… as well as threats within your own court.
Customize your character with a wide range of classes and powers including specialized archetypes, powerful arcane and divine spells, choosing from a multitude of class abilities, skills, and feats. Pathfinder allows players to create heroes (or villains) that fit both their individual gameplay styles and their personalities.
Meet a diverse cast of companions and NPCs, including iconic characters from the Pathfinder setting itself. You’ll need to decide who to trust and who to watch carefully, as each companion has an agenda, alignment, and goals that may differ from yours. Your journey will become their journey, and you’ll help shape their lives both in the moment and well into the future.
Conquer new regions as claim them as your own, carving your kingdom from the wilderness. While classic dungeon crawling and exploration lie at the heart of this adventure, diplomacy, politics, and kingdom development are also part of the challenge. Choose your allies well, and keep them close while exploring ancient tombs and ruins — and while dealing with politics in your own court.
Your kingdom is a reflection of your character and your choices throughout the game. It is a living thing shaped by your alignment, your allies, and your ability to lead your people. Not only can your kingdom expand, opening up new territories and allowing you to build new towns and communities, but your capital city will physically change based on your decisions, your policies, and even whom you choose to ally with. As your kingdom grows, a number of factions and neighboring countries will come to you to seek favor—and to test your strength.
Explore – Conquer – Rule!
The Pathfinder Roleplaying Game is an evolution of the 3.5 rules set of the world’s oldest fantasy roleplaying game, designed by Paizo, Inc using the feedback of tens of thousands of gamers just like you. Whether you’re new to the Pathfinder® universe or you’re a seasoned veteran, Pathfinder: Kingmaker is the CRPG you’ve been waiting for.
- Requires a 64-bit processor and operating system
- OS: Windows 7 64-bit or newer
- Processor: Intel Celeron 1037U @ 1.80GHz
- Memory: 4 GB RAM
- Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 3000
- Storage: 30 GB available space
- Sound Card: DirectX Compatible Sound Card
1) This game is on the borderline. This would be a negative review if the reviews were mostly positive. It has a lot of self-inflicted flaws.
2) If you’re wondering if this is the game you were waiting for, it is. It’s that game. You know who you are. If you’ve been casting about in this age of nostalgia and remakes for that hard-edged Infinity Engine treatment based on tabletop rules, but have been dissatisfied with the major releases, you should know this is the one you were waiting for.
Most of the people who dislike this game at its core will tell you what you might like about it, in one way or another, if you read what they have to say with a grain of salt. The game is not for them but it may be for you. However, there are also people who dislike how the game shoots itself in the foot. They have a point, unfortunately. (I’m not counting the bug reviews. Those were perfectly justified. I started playing late and the bugs seem to be gone.)
The problems, aside from the release bugs, boil down into two categories in my view:
1) Difficulty of systems combined with lack of documenation. The game cannot really be played without constantly Alt+Tabbing and asking the internet. I am not primarily talking about PF/d20 systems here. Whether it’s avoiding game-ending quest failure, the lack of characters who can fill the very necessary roles for your barony, absurd early game encounters that do nothing but confuse and discourage new players, or simply knowing where you should go next, it’s just not possible to play the game and see what happens. Playing this game without meeting it 3/4ths of the way is how you end up with the negative, frustrated reviews here. Half of this game is played in a browser looking at spoilers and I really can’t say whether the browser or the client gets the bigger half.
2) Quality of Life issues. Why is it not possible, in a game that encourages you to spend hours and hours dealing with character sheets, for you to save or export characters? Why, in a game that has 60-ish subclasses and 8 races before DLC, are custom characters gated behind an outrageously expensive gold fee transparently designed to ruin the fun of people who don’t care about the written NPCs? If Owlcat is so proud of the okay-ish writing for these NPCs, why is there no option to give us a limited respec of their starting class or stats so we might actually want them? Why do my ranged characters always charge into melee BEFORE drawing their sword, provoking an AOO, instead of doing it in the sensible order? Why is there no viewable feat tree? Why can’t I change character voices if the voice test is going to be broken? Why are *any* of the cosmetic features locked on creation?
With all that said, it is definitely the bones of the game I’ve long wanted. It’s the game where you cast Web and Fireball off the edge of the screen to soften up (or win!) a difficult encounter. It’s the game where you can go crazy with buffs and CC or summon help that’s as powerful as you are — but where your enemies can do the same thing. It’s the game where RNG makes everything a bit more real, making you pay attention all the way through every fight. It’s the game that attempts (with limited, but greater, success than you probably expect from a small studio) to make tasty little alignment choices constantly that aren’t just pushing A or B and having BioWare tell you how awesome you are, but at the same time don’t feel like a test or a puzzle. It’s the game that encourages min/maxing and a desire to learn a system instead of just rewarding whatever notion the player has.
In short, it’s a Baldur’s Gate update that looks and feels like a 2018 game. A real one, not simply an impostor in screenshots, both for better and for worse. This shouldn’t be too hard of a choice for anyone. The positive and negative reviews both have the information you need (the bugs are gone now).
EDIT: You probably should not even attempt to play this game with a hard disk drive. The loading times are just long enough to be annoying with an SSD. With an HDD, you would *really* be getting the 1998 experience, and not in a good way.
The negative reviews helped me in one respect. Going by memory, they were saying things like "the game is horrible because there is a swarm early that is hard to kill, plus there are wererats that have DR (damage resistance) too early." So, I was prepared for that. If you go try to do ratnook hill too early, before around lvl 5, yes, you will die. In a HUGE game that does an absolutely incredible job bringing the entire Pathfinder system into a cprg. I’m in awe of the job they have done. Pretty much literally every class, including 3 archetypes, plus several prestige classes, are all in there, and done so well. So few compromises were made to adapt the system to a crpg. It is just a shockingly amazing job, and so much fun, and so big and engaging, and more like playing PnP D&D than ANY GAME EVER, EVEN BALDUR’S GATE, in my opinion.
My best friend, who found DnD when he was 5 and always wished (like most of the rest of us) that we could play it more (since it is hard to play in real life, with all the prep involved and the need to get several people together regularly), loves this game as well. I found DnD when I was 12, at camp, and it was incredible. It was all I wished I could do (besides girls, heh). I love computer games, but always they were first and foremost a way to play rpgs. I’m now married, successful, have a 6 yr old son, but still love cprgs. And I’m appalled at the low avg reviews that this game has, because there must be many people like me where this is the game they are looking for, and the bad reviews delayed me buying it. I may have missed it altogether! The bad reviewers must have some other game in mind, in their head, that they want, but it must not be DnD or Pathfinder that they want to play, because this game does an INCREDIBLE job at re-creating that experience.
Stacking is well explained, mostly. Sometimes I have to test to see wtf is going on with some mechanics in the game, but mostly everything is laid out well in descriptions. I’ve encountered zero bugs that I can remember. Maybe there has been one somewhere, and I’m sure I’ve luckily avoided a few that may still exist, but I’ve played a lot with a lot of different characters and all is very clean.
Here is the bottom line: if you think this is the game you are looking for, it very possibly is. If you don’t know if you like Pathfinder, or if you are looking for an action rpg or something, maybe this isn’t what you want. I love Grim Dawn, but this isn’t that. It does what it is trying to do UNBELIEVABLY WELL, so if you want that, congrats to all of us.
Thank you, Owlcat Games! You obviously cared a ton about making this. You obviously aren’t just doing this for the money, and you obviously love Pathfinder.
So a little backstory as to how I stumbled upon this game. I have been a fan of CRPG’s for two decades, but I never played any table top games so I wasn’t aware of the Pathfinder universe..until I have read a thread about new Kickstarters coming up and that Chris Avellone was going to be involved in some way in creating Pathfinder Kingmaker. This drew me in immediately (Planescape Torment being my 1# of all time) and I went ahead and backed it.
And now here we are…after 260+ hours with a game that I now consider one of the best CRPG’s of all time that has managed to rival Baldur’s Gate 2 & Throne of Bhaal in many aspects and surpass it in others.
This game is a complete CRPG package. And I will tell you why below:
– Compelling story with choice & consequences (in a game a decision you make in chapter 1 will affect the end game)
– Replayability via hundreds of classes and combinations (multiclassing)
– Extreme levels of customizability in terms of difficulty (that appeals to both veteran players and new)
– Variety of companions with interesting backstories that are worth pursuing
– Multiple endings and slides depicting your effect upon places you have visited
– Kingdom Management is meaningful and important to the overall outcome of the ending
– Music is good where it counts (combat, ambiance and during some dialogue scenes)
– Some graphical/interface bugs
– Performance/technical issues
– A LOT of loading screens
– Needs better tutorials to explain all the mechanics (especially the kingdom related ones)
– Majority of artisan quests are still bugged
Keep in mind I finished this game on patch 1.12 which solved the majority of game breaking bugs. YMMV, but post patch 1.1 I haven’t encountered a bug that has stopped my story progress. Many of said bugs have been fixed already.
I cannot stress enough how big of an undertaking this game is (both for the person playing it and having to invest over 100 hours and for the Owlcat devs to patch the bugs), but if you learn to love it despite some bugs and some flaws and issues that will be eventually be patched then you are in for one of the best CRPG’s ever in my opinion.
I hope more people give it a chance and recognize it’s greatness, even though it is a daunting task.
Do I recommend this game? YES! The value of this game is through the roof. The pricetag alone brings you at LEAST 100-150 hours of content.
If you’ve reached the end of this review I thank you and apologize for being so lengthy (I wrote it minutes after finishing the game).
Regarding what the game does right, there isn’t much I can say that hasn’t been said by other people already. The plot is pretty decent, following the original Kingmaker books, characters are usually likeable (except when they’re not meant to be, of course), and even the weakest ones eventually grow on you after hours of playtime. Soundtrack is great, maps are visually good, even if some of them get reused a lot, quests are interesting and the ones that have a limited time to be completed are very generous, some give you years of in game time, etc. I’d rather talk about the Kingmaker’s flaws, since that’s drives most people away from the game, so here it goes.
-Loading Screens: After tons of patches, this isn’t much of an issue anymore, but it’s still worth mentioning: this game has a fair share of loading screen time, not only because you travel through different maps a lot but because the loading itself takes a while. Since launch, devs have reduced the need for loading screens in kindom management and the time the game takes to load stuff, to the point where it’s not even an issue for me personally, but I’ve always been tolerant with loading screens, people that can’t stand them and/or don’t have a pc capable of handling this game smoothly might find this frustrating.
-Game Balance: Honestly, a lot of what is said by some of the reviews regarding the game’s difficulty is inaccurate. Granted, Kingmaker is far from perfect in that area: the game does have some very distinct difficulty spikes scattered throughout the campaign, and some of the game design decisions are very poor at best, and I’d be lying if i said I didn’t stop playing for weeks during some particularly annoying moments. But as I said, those are some very specific situations, and most of the game was perfectly fine. As long as you have a well thought out party composition and dont ruin your companions (and yourself) by leveling up poorly, the game will rarely feel unfair. And as a quick sidenote, knowing how things work in the Pathfinder system helps a lot in that regard. The game does try to explain the basics to you, but I don’t think it’d be enough for new players, so if you’re not familiar with D&D/ Pathfinder mechanics, you might wanna either read the books or look through some guides.
-Bugs: This is probably Pathfinder: Kingmaker’s most infamous characteristic. You can read countless launch day reviews detailing how the game was borderline unplayable, with nearly everything that could possibly not work properly not working properly. Buying the game back then used to be like playing russian roulette: you’d either have a good time or all your money wasted on a game that wouldn’t even work. As of February, 2019, 5 months after launch, after lots of patches, the game is now in a much better state. Are all the bugs gone? Certainly not, i’m not even sure it’s possible to fix them all, but the vast majority has been removed, specially the game breaking ones. Of course, I’m a bit biased since I didn’t encounter that many frustrating bugs throughout my playthrough to begin with, but I’d say that just goes to show how much has been fixed. Granted, we can’t just ignore the fact that the game was released in such a broken condition, but i give the devs a pass: game was made by a small team with the help of kickstarter, not to mention I’ve got no idea how much Deep Silver had to do with this, maybe they rushed the release before Owlcat had time polish their creation. Regardless, they’ve worked hard to make the game playable post launch, which shows at least most of them are passionate and want to make an enjoyable product, if all the quality content ingame didn’t show that already, bugs aside of course. So yeah, if anyone at Owlcat is reading, congrats and keep up the good work, the game is great, but by God pls don’t let any future games launch like this.
I think i said all i had to say, there are still some pretty annoying things in the game like how kingdom management works in some aspects, but that’s too specific for me to comment here. So if by any chance I convinced you to try the game out, let me give you some piece of advice to make your life a bit easier:
-Quicksave is your best friend and you better learn to love it. Yeah I know, save scumming ain’t great, but the game was designed taking into consideration that you have the power to load and save whenever (except during combat). Feel free to only save every 3 hours or whatever, but your life will be way easier if you have a handy savefile ready everytime you get butchered by a horde of giant undead cyclopes.
-Don’t be afraid to use guides if you don’t know what to do, the game isn’t always clear, and since there are still some bugs here and there, you might wanna read about what to do next instead of wasting 2 hours walking in circles or failing a quest without knowing why.
-Yes, at the start of the game everyone misses basically every attack. It’s a bunch of lvl 1 characters with no attack roll bonuses trying to hit each other, what did you expect? It stops being an issue after a short while, especially if you get a bard in your party.
-Ignore the first sidequest you receive in Ole’s trading post until the end of the first chapter, believe me, by the time you first get that mission you’re not ready to complete it, I’ve read lots of reviews complaining about how they got destroyed when trying to complete it as soon as they could.
-Buy a loooooooooot of rations for the main dungeon in chapter 3, and at least one character who can cast death ward, otherwise glhf.
-(Spoilers) If a crow ever asks for your name and a clearly not made for combat companion gives theirs, reload the last save. Just trust me on this one.
-(Minor Spoilers) By the time you reach the point of the game where you meet these enemies, you probably have the means to deal with them, so this isn’t much of a warning or advice as much as just me wanting to go on record saying: the wild hunt can burn in hell.
TLDR – This game is certainly flawed but those flaws have been either removed or diminished by patches and fixes. As long as you have some experience with how D&D/Pathfinder works, there’s a good chance you’ll be able look past it’s imperfections and enjoy a damn good RPG, no matter how frustrating it might be at times. I don’t regret a single cent spent on this game, and if you want to try it out, i hope you have as much fun as i did.
Well it’s done. I finally completed the campaign after 100 hours. I’m physically and emotionally exhausted. I’m going to break each component of this game down, and then at the bottom give final thoughts.
Pathfinder Rules Implementation: 6/10
You’ll see many classes/archetypes represented in this game. There’s magic too; much of the bread and butter from tabletop are here. Skills are greatly condensed. Entire branches of magic will be crippled and missing due to the combat-myopic viewpoint of this campaign. Clever RPGs move non-combat magic into the environment directly; that is sadly missing here. It’s a poor substitution for real role-playing. Liberties are taken with PFRPG core mechanics in the name of making a video game. It’s inevitable in adaptations from tabletop to video game, but the details are not trivial. It’s a subtle but crucial element that gives games like Baldur’s Gate or Neverwinter Nights the longevity they still enjoy today. Kingmaker was designed a single player experience from the start, but I wish they had given us a single player campaign coupled with a multiplayer-capable engine.
Environmental Design: 8/10
This game’s environment stands head and shoulders above all other parts. It is immersive and vibrant and I love it. It’s so good in fact I feel work here may have taken resources away from other areas of the game to the point they suffered for it. The artwork is first rate in many areas of the game. The Stolen Lands are necessarily ambiguous, and open to interpretation of creative people. The lavish plant environments, the bits of fog, mist, or rain make for setting the tone of exploring vast wilderness. I spent many hours excited about filling in every map, eagerly waiting to see what’s over that next ridge. This captures the essence of this Adventure Path better than any other aspect of the game. I wanted to see more. I wanted to do more.
Sound and Music Design: 6/10
I flipped back and forth on this more than any other part of my review. The sounds, music, and voices that are present make the world come alive; particularly the music for non-combat areas. However: Some songs will haunt you in your dreams because of how often you visit. Example given: The kingdom theme music when in your capital city. It’s a nice melody that loops, and loops, and loops. It will be with you at work, in the car, at the grocery store, etc. There needed to be at LEAST three version of “town music” that would rotate at a slow pace; It’s okay to let the town go quiet for a few minutes before firing up that same effect or song for the 30th time in five minutes. If there had been more variety I would have given this an 8/10.
Encounter Design: 3/10
Frustrating and sad, the majority of combat in this game involves insanely over-tuned stat blocks. Minor enemies like kobolds can murder a low level party due to ability scores rivaling player characters, and armor classes higher than your frontline fighters. You will die. Often. Even on easy. The people behind these encounters assume every player is min-maxing their entire party. If you don’t, just uninstall the game now. It isn’t a complaint about difficulty; it’s about the blatant in-your-face cheating. You will see creatures cast incredibly powerful magic over and over with no limitations. You will run into the kind of cheese design where once you finish the second to last creature in the encounter, another half dozen more enemies literally pop out of the ground.
Kingdom Management: 2/10
In the creation of this game, somehow this system got wedged in. You just have a stat sheet, and a deck of cards. Every event is a problem or opportunity. Management is done day to day, so you never know when it’s a good time to improve. Advisor slots are rare and slow to unlock. I never solve all the problems before the next one broke out. This spoils the entire open-concept of Kingmaker, forcing you to address only proscribed problems, or else. Or else what, you ask? Or else you get a “Game Over” screen. In my case I had multiple problems arising with only one person to solve them. In the end, all these problems come down to one glaring issue: balance. It’s unfinished and in dire need of mods or patches to improve the system.
The Bugs are mainly simple glitches, missing components, and broken quests. Some major plot points are so broken that you autofail. Because of these issues I found myself at the endgame with my main party reduced to three characters. The crashes, the client freezes, the exploits are all too numerous to mention. I wanted to really immerse myself, but the bugs kept kicking me out. I had bugs so bad that I had to literally install Cheat Engine (a first for me), so I could circumvent entire nonfunctional bits of game. We’re in December; the game launched at the end of September.
The first 20 hours of gameplay are polished to a shine. There’s deeply scripted events, the thrill of risk/reward, and joy of good gameplay. You get invested into the game, and then the honeymoon ends. You get your kingdom, and this game practically falls to pieces. All the wonderful role-playing, character investments, decisions…all that just goes away. You’re going to have to fight to survive. There’s no exception because no developer ever got time to script any other option into the game. So sharpen your axes gang because the only way out is through.
There’s a lot to praise here. The patches for this game have been rolling out regularly. The patch notes are long. The fixes and features are good. The company responds to many complaints and posts, and seems to be genuinely engaged with their community. I like that because it shows a willingness to provide customer service and a genuine desire to improve their product. If this game had released December 1, 2018 I am certain my review would have been better. But the patches for certain things came too late; my choices were try and limp through my battered and broken campaign, or throw away 100 hours of work and tears and finish feebly, if not triumphantly.
Final Thoughts: 5/10
As it stands now, I cannot recommend this game at the $40 price point. There’s too much still in progress, or broken, or bad. Even as a hardcore Pathfinder 1st Edition fan, I can’t say it was worth my time or money. Maybe in six more months of hot fixes and updates this game will be worth $40. I will probably do a second play through next year. Until then I recommend you check out some “Let’s Play” gameplay and save your money. I’m sure the wait will be worth it…eventually.
+ Exceptional variety of classes available, boosting replay-ability by a lot.
+ Very deep and complex combat mechanics.
+ The Pathfinder setting is one of the best Fantasy ones around.
+ Excellent voice acting in dialogues and narration.
+ Very well written and varied story, role-playing interactions.
+ Quality graphics for a CRPG.
+ Great variety of enemies, loot, weapons, equip, and spells.
– Time limit on Main Quest and also on certain critical Events later on. Very annoying.
– Fatigue / Resting mechanics, as of now, are annoying and make exploration less enjoyable.
– Way too many random fights while traveling.
– Problems with enemy balance in several fights, making them too much RNG dependent or frustrating.
– Cannot create a custom party from the start, mainly for money reasons. This can lead to unbalanced composition.
Pathfinder: Kingmaker (PK from now) is a classic RPG set in the universe of Pathfinder, one of the most famous and iconic ones of all time. The game starts out impressively well, boasting a huge amount of character classes to choose from, and suit all the play styles and roleplaying needs, each with its own skill trees and sub-classes even, assuring an incredible variety. The character building system is the classic, deep, old-school CRPG one using attributes and lots of statistics, and based on d20 rule-set, with a few modifications here and there.
The impossibility to create a custom party from the start, typical of many old-school RPGs such as Baldur’s Gate or Icewind Dale to mention a few, is a bit disappointing, and also can lead to party composition problems later on, as depending on choices, different "mandatory" companions, with preset classes, will be added to your party, which can in turn become unbalanced in a negative manner. A custom party is doable, but only later.
PK adds to the classic CRPG formula some management gameplay: first you will have to take care of the fatigue needs of your party, manage money well to afford camping supplies, potions and healers, and be efficient in your travel paths, while later, you will eventually be able to manage your very own little kingdom, with most of the aspects deriving from such responsibility. In part all this is new and welcome, but on the other hand, such mechanics are several times made in ways that make them more annoying than anything else.
Pathfinder: Kingmaker is a deep and wide CRPG title, with some excellent points to it as you can read above, but also several issues regarding game design and balancing, which weigh pretty heavily on the overall experience, resulting ultimately in a far less enjoyable gameplay than it should.
The gameplay of PK is based mainly on Exploration, Combat, Role-playing and Management.
Exploration is performed via a global map featuring pre-determined roads to follow, and many crossroads to decide directions. Even if the path is not free but "on rails", the game still features a good amount of locations and places to discover around the world. There is no fast travel, traveling takes a long time and your party can encounter enemies and random events while doing so, and also need rest pretty often. Fatigue builds up the more you travel, depending on constitution of each character, but sooner or later rest is needed or major penalties to attributes occur, making combat and checks a lot harder.
Role-playing interactions, as in any CRPG, should be the crown jewel of the experience, and in fact they are in PK, which features very well-written dialogues, a vast array of options, some of which unique and tied to the player’s specific class, alignment, or other factors, and deeply branching dialogue trees. On this side, this title is excellent and will be the joy of any role-player.
Management part is about rationing resources wisely, using resting supplies sparingly, being efficient in traveling around, and later, managing resources and other aspects of your very own kingdom, including repelling invasions and hiring advisors. The fact invasions are also timed and your presence is needed to repel them in a certain time, will be rather annoying, as if you are in the middle of something, you’ll have to go back.
The storyline featured in PK is long and complex, as relations between noble houses and kingdoms come into play often, as do intrigues and struggles for power. Not only, but your alignment and relationship with companions can even change the outcome of many events, making the possibilities all the more interesting! Writing is great albeit some typos here and there, and companions / characters are interesting and have great personalities.
Combat is real-time with dynamic pause, a classic for CRPGs. Since it uses a d20 rule-set as core, expect an uncompromising, deep and complex battle system worthy of the classics of old, where a lot of factors need to be considered, and where each fight is a tactical challenge on its own. The only problem with it is balance, as you will soon see.
Content & Pricing
As expected from any CRPG, the game is very long on its own, depending on how much you explore and quests you take, and difficulty aswell, the game can last even 80+ hours. For the proposed price of 40€, i’d say the game is worth buying for the amount of content offered alone.
Balance & Challenge
There are serious issues here. Several encounters on the Challenging and above difficulties are incredibly punishing and unfair, making the player rely more on lucky strikes of RNG rather than strategy. This would be okay if happened seldom, but instead happens quite often. The mechanics about Fatigue, Camping and Resting are unnecessarily annoying and result in the exploration becoming a chore instead of interesting as it should be. These are by FAR the worst issues of the whole game.
Very good for this genre, using Unity3D engine and achieving surprising results. effects, textures and models are of good quality, while portraits and art are superb. Excellent.
Good soundtracks, excellent voice-acting, and average effects. Solid.
Performance & Stability
Performance needs some optimization work at the moment, but with some setting tweaking most issues can be solved. Decent. [GTX1080, i7 4820K, 16GB RAM]
Enemy AI is pretty smart and will focus one character to quickly kill them sometimes, and use advanced tactics such as flanking and pincer maneuvers. Companion AI is not that smart sadly, and sometimes your peers will just do nothing, and have to be manually commanded most of the time.
Quality of Life
No issues to report.
Bugs & Issues
There are quite a few minor bugs around, but nothing major to report. Many people did report save-game corruption and crashes, but this never happened to me.
This product was reviewed using a free key provided by the Developers.
Unfortunately, the game was released several months too early. Its myriad issues have been documented in angry postings across the internet; suffice to say that the game simply cannot be played above the lowest difficulty level without the use of a guide and regularly save-scumming. There are many, many ways for players to inadvertently fail quests (often before they’ve even begun) or find themselves in unwinnable situations which they couldn’t possibly have prepared for in advance without cheating. The "Kingdom Management" mode is very obviously still in an early beta state. Kingmaker is a lesson in why games need thorough playtesting, particularly from people other than the devs or hardcore backers.
Important: Some of my critique is bug related, so if you came here long after release it most likely will no longer apply, look for more recent reviews.
+ Baldurs Gate Style
+ very complex
+ nice story with many options how to solve problems (if not bugged)
+ devs are trying their best to salvage the dire situation (see cons)
+ very nice music and soundeffects
o time pressure (with kingdom management), increases immersion sometimes but some may not like it
o illusion of a big world, some world map locations are constantly recycled, some areas feel empty
– wasnt tested properly, combat can be totally unbalanced especially later in the game regardless of difficulty settings
– full of bugs, some of them horribly gamebreaking, many immersion breaking, game isnt a finished product
– rng factor decides everything, leads to frustration/save scumming very fast especially with kingdom management
– kingdom management not rewarding and sometimes frustrating, it doesnt feel like it matters at all in the end
I do not recommed the game in its current form, wait until next year when hopefully all bugs are solved or until it is on sale, the full price is not justified until you are a hardcore DnD/Baldurs Gate fan like me and will suffer trough all the frustration and disappointment.
my expierence with dnd games: BG1+2+addons; icewind dale 1+2; pillars of eternity 1+2; multiple playtroughs on all of them on different difficulty settings, i have no experience with any table top games
I followed the advice of many players and waited a bit until i started my playthrough, i also fooled around with chapter 1 and 2 for some time to get a feeling for the combat system and the difficulty settings. Also i tried different approaches to the kingdom management until i was certain enough i understood most of it, but even after that i encountered many bugs, small ones like character animations, medium bugs like some broken dialog but also gamebreaking bugs like invincible enemys sending you into a combat loop with no exit option. The dev team tries their best to solve the bugs and up to chapter 4 you should be relatively save from the worst of it now, but you never know.
I would not recommend you try the harder difficulty settings since you wont go from one important battle to the next where you just have to figure out the right tactics. You fight much "trash" that can and will obliterate you if you do not take it serious. Exploration wont be funny and rewarding if you have to use everything in your arsenal every battle and you wont be able to rest easily to reset your spells and heal.
Beginning with chapter 5 or 6 you will notice that balance is thrown out of the window, i dont think that this part of the game was tested at all, you will meet enemys with armor ratings 35 and bosses with armor 50+ which means that only the most specialized warrior type characters will hit them until your characters crit, in the last 2 chapters it gets totally unfair since you not only will meet said enemys but wont be able to buff yourself because of the location your are in.
3. Kingdom Management
The kingdom management is one of the best features of the game but its that badly implemented, i would recommed you to set it to auto or at least to "invincible kingdom", nothing you do there really matters and if you make mistakes you might see the game over very quick. IF you want to try it, always save bevor managing something and reload if the outcome isnt to your liking, even small decisions (who does what when) can have dire consequences (what if there is no one to do something?), i wont spoil it much more but maybe one thing: dont even try to understand the overall happiness system, when and why your kingdom goes to "worried" or worse is as unclear as it gets.
4. Time Management
You will always be on a timer, some are shown in your quest log, some are not. You can guess by some kingdom events that you are on a timer but it wont be completely clear until you fail. There will always be the "brawl on the hill" as i would call it (you know what i mean when you see it, wont spoil) and it will be on a visual timer but thats just a window, it wont happen exactly when the timer is up but somewhat earlier so even when you know the timer you cant be certain.
If you play with active kingdom management you will have to manage events, they dont spawn once a month or on a special day, they can spawn anywhere within the month (most spawn at the start and at the end of the month but you never know), so if you go out exploring and you are out too long you might have a problem once you return. This leads to you going out for a few days completing as much as possible of the map and then rushing back to at least your kingdom area if not your capital to manage events, forget about chilled exploration. This also leads to save scumming since even top notch management will lead to very difficult events later on (DC35+) which you barely win even if you are deeply invested (yes you will use your own gold or you wont have enough resources to get far) in your kingdom.
A little suggestion/hint: do main story quests asap and rush it as fast as possible! That way time management gets a little bit easier.
The story has its ups and downs but is mostly satisfying until a bug destroys it for you or you reach the last chapters where things go wild. One hint: dont miss your companion storys, they are good and very important later on if they dont bug out (for me they themself didnt but the consequences did, my decisions lead to one of my companions dying in its story but it turned up again without any explanation and did something very frustrating to another companion, wont spoil more since im not certain its not a bug)
For me the game ended like it went, in a bug, i wasnt able to enjoy any epilog, even had to adjust difficulty to story mode just to make it that far and that felt very embarrasing, my whole gameplay experience felt like a beta test. I will now watch the ending on youtube and thats a shame to put it lightly.
I myself wont touch the game for the next few months and i dont recommed anyone to do so.
Took me 2hrs to write, hope it helps some of you.
The problems with this game can be summed up with one simple line. Bad GMing, The Video Game.
To be more precise the dev’s took a fairly faithful recreation of both Pathfinder and the Kingmaker module then filled it with absolute nonsense monsters that have no resemblence to the monster versions actually found in pathfinder. This skews game ballance and makes for a frustrating experience in combat that goes like this.
Save… very important.
Buff up, all the spells.
Give it everything with your casters, hold your cleric back to heal.
Repeat until RNGesus changes "Miss, alot." for Enough hits to kill what your fighting.
Move onto next oponent.
Now that’s a slight exageration but not by much. In the opening "Stag Lord" chapter there are so many fights like this because of what the developers have done to the opponents in the game.
In the P&P game a challenge equal to the party level should take about 20% of your resources however the opponents are so overtuned that they are not equal challenges. Let’s have a quick list of a few things that cropped up so far on the playthrough I am on.
Random encounter with bandits… where there were 6 of them, some with caster class levels. ACs in the 20s for some of the fighters, really high attack bonuses and archers piling in pain from the hill to the right. This was at LVL2 when I still was on 4 characters and no cleric because of the way that the starting characters are divvied up.
The swarms… well there’s enough on these in other reviews. These are missing key things like taking more damage from AoE attacks, are going to be in combat so become harder to hit even with flasks, nobody will have precise shot by this point, unless you cheat for money to make your own party or take it yourself.
How about caves filled with permenant -DEX, -STR attack mobs. Yep… those aren’t a cascade of failure if your not willing to save/reload constantly.
How about 1 bad check and you have to fight the stag lord and all of the adds at the same time. These guys are pumped up bandits too. They will wipe the floor with you consistently… reload an earlier save.
How about the spider that attacked me in my sleep at level 5, so no spells because I’d just had to burn out on another combat, that was AC 27 + a flat 20% miss chance. My best striker had a 16% chance to hit… The others were having to roll 18+ to get a hit… the spider… no probllem rolling through AC 25 (Val’s AC at that point).
Owlbears with dragon stats. Bandits with ACs like they are wearing magical everything and dropping non magical scale. Carniverous plants that are positioned at zone entry and can kill your casters in one swing.
The monster setup is like that GM you played with as a kid for about 2 sessions who just wanted to kill your characters.
The thing that finally made me write the review is going through an area called "Swamp Witches Hut". Now… I’ve already had a few "burn it all or die" fights here that took a couple of re-loads but now I’ve just jumped into a secret area and I see a "Greater Enraged Owlbear". Now an Owlbear is a CR 4 challenge in pathfinder. My party would wipe the floor with one of them… but there are 3 of them… and they are "Greater Enraged".
I had faced two "Owlbear" monsters in the game already. These were pumped up well beyond what an owlbear is in the P&P game so I started thinking… have the designers pulled the same rubbish with these. Oh yeah they had.
The previous owlbears were more Lesser Dragons without magic. These were just straight up dragons in Owlbear costumes hanging out in the woods. Here’s some stats taken from the combat log.
Base Attack Bonus + 18… EIGHTEEN. A mature red adult dragon is base attack 19.
Strength bonus +14… that means this owlbear, in game terms, is STR 38-39. For comparison a Tarrasque, a legendary CR 25 monster, is STR 41 in the P&P game.
It uses power attack at -5. Now looking at power attack from the feat it’s -1 to hit and +2 damage for every 4 character levels. Yep… that’s a level 20 owlbear.
For giggles it also has weapon focus with it’s claws because it needed more attack bonus.
Finally it does 2D6+24 damage (2D6 + 14 str +10 power attack)… which it will do every time as my best AC in the party is 27 and it’s hitting that on anything but a 1 (because 1 = fumble).
So it will hit every attack, dealing an average of 31 damage.
On the other side of the board it’s got +16 natural armour, over 3 times more than a regular owlbear, turning my team’s attacks into an average of 25% chance to hit.
I repeat for the true madness… there are 3 of these. This is an area your going to hit at level 5 to 7 and these "Dragons-come-owlbears" are going to rip you to shreds. The issue is that these are not isolated occurences as there’s another area across other side of the map which is similar.
That’s the kind of unballanced mess your dealing with. It’s also the point where I realised that YOUR characters are playing Pathfinder, they have all the relevant classes, stats, feats and rules from the game, but the GM is not playing the same game as you. If I’m constantly wondering about every oppoenent in the game trying to work out what crap the designer/GM has pulled with this one it very quickly becomes a chore rather than a game.
Those owlbears are the point where I stopped playing, left the window open so I could double check the stats as I wrote, then closed it down until I see a patch that sorts the balance out.
At the moment I really regret that I bought this and have put as much time into it as I have. This coming from someone who lists Jagged Alliance 2, Baldur’s Gate 1&2, Icewind Dale 1&2, Fallout 1&2 as my favourite games of all time. This has surpassed PoE 2 Deadfire as the worst CRPG I’ve played in some time and it didn’t need to be.
This could be a great game but messing with the established material in a way that looks amaturish and with no sense of balance has ruined it. Avoid till patched.
First, the bugs. Now, I’ve put this game down and picked it back up over several months of attempted patches and bug fixes. Every time I return to the game, I -still- find quests that cannot be completed. I still have issues with pathfinding on maps, I still find inaccessible areas or treasures, glitched items, or impossible objectives. This is far from a finished product. This is a year or more of development, beta testing and more out from -2019-, at the time of this review. I’m pretty forgiving when it comes to bugs, in truth, and there were times I found the game utterly unplayable for its glitches and hiccups. But even as forgiving of this issue as I am, it pales in comparison to my next.
Take a look at my hours played. I would earnestly wager a quarter of that 100+ hours is loading screen. They’re many, and they ain’t quick. The game artificially lengthens itself in a number of ways, from instancing between the smallest of buildings or caves for a good minute or two, to not including a teleport spell in a game with an overorld map, to forcing you to retread ground -constantly-. Worst offender is the Throne Room to Overworld. I can’t count the number of times I had to leave the Throne Room, cross through my entire town, and finally get back onto the Overworld Map. Why not give us a shortcut, hmm? And not only this, but certain problems demand either replaying for positive RNG results or reloading in an attempt to remedy some impossible task or unexplained mechanic. This goes for both the Kingdom building aspect and the adventuring half of the game; both demand constant ‘rerolling’, in effect, and lengthen the game time artificially with laughable solutions. Stuff like this leads into my next point.
The time wasting isn’t even my biggest complaint. The difficulty is. An avid player of the PnP version of the game for years now, and an experienced DM, there’s junk in this game that will make you pull your hair out. I’m not against challenge, but there are creatures, abilities and spells that will be spammed at you that make the game tedious, frustrating, infuriating and hopeless. No DM in their right mind would throw swarms at a level 1 character. No DM would throw hordes of CR 19 enemies at level 15 characters. No DM in their right mind would make encounters this oppressively impossible unless they were just the biggest and cruelest♥♥♥♥♥in the community. "Going into the lava area? Hope you prepared for ice enemies, ya rube! Oh, anticipating spell-casting enemies in the magic tower? Nah, man, it’s all barbarians that trip you and eff you up to the top. Faced wolves in the past, did ya? These are super wolves, son. They got cones of cold and junk." You know nobody at that table is a friend of the DM, but they soldier on in some self-flagellating exercise for the simple fact that they’ve got nothing else; no DMs, no games, no nothing but this to satiate their Pathfinder/DnD craving. And that’s just sad, bro.
I’ve invested 100+ hours, trying to see the story through, and I’ve given up. I’ve given up at the final boss after suffering through defeats for hours on end, with no possibility to remedy my situation by attempting to level, buy new gear, etc. For lovers of Golarion or Pathfinder or just DnD in general, don’t take the chance. You can find a game; it’s more accessible than ever. Go to you local game shop. And if you don’t like people, pick up Baldur’s Gate or something. Do not make the mistake I did; do -not- pick this game up. It will just net you gray hairs in the end.