Pathfinder: Kingmaker Review
Pathfinder: Kingmaker attempts to turn the classic pen-and-paper RPG Pathfinder into a video game. Is it worth trying out or should you just stick to the traditional Pathfinder game? Check out our review and find out what we thought.
Pathfinder: Kingmaker Review
Before you get into the campaign, you will need to create your character. You will choose from a few races and a ton of different classes. There are basic classes like a Fighter, Ranger, and Wizard, but there are also more advanced classes like Sword Saints and Alchemists. The choices just from the character creator can be very overwhelming, due to the sheer amount of options. Perks, spells, stats, class, alignment, and ability scores all have to be adjusted. Thankfully, for those who think this is too much, there are premade class builds that work just fine. When you finally settle on a character, you are thrust right into the story.
You start in a large hall with around 20 other adventurers chatting amongst themselves, wondering what is going on. The Swordlords of Restovic have invited you all here to tame the Stolen Lands. Currently, a man known as the Stag Lord and his bandits run the land and are causing chaos there. The one who brings him down will be crowned Baron of the Stolen Lands, and will build a settlement there. Here you meet Linzi, a bard who is writing a book about the Stolen Lands, and who will join your party eventually. After all the festivities die down, the home of the Swordlord besieged by bandits, and you have to fight your way out. Here you learn how to fight, move, heal, and control party members.
The tutorial is vast, and you do need to pay attention because this isn’t a typical RPG. It is very beginner friendly, and even though I haven’t played Pathfinder before, I believe I have a solid grasp of how it works now. When the tutorial wraps up, you are sent into the world to claim the Stolen Lands for yourself. Traveling on the overworld is as simple as moving your party token from spot to spot and loading into an instanced zone. You have to uncover the map and find each of the areas as you go. Moving like this gives you a sense of exploration as you travel on the map. Sometimes you aren’t perceptive enough to find something, and when you come back later, you notice it then. All of these areas are worth investigating for loot, experience, and possible extra quests.
When you do eventually take out the Stag Lord, the Forsaken Lands are yours to control and the real game begins. Now you have to run a settlement, though it can be set to automatic if you have no interest in this. You pick what buildings go down, who your advisors are, and answer the requests of your citizens and other regional representatives. Your advisors will act on their own when you send them out, and this could be good or bad depending on your alignment. For instance, Regonar is direct and prefers action to words, while Tristian listens to the people and tries to help them. There is no way to make them always succeed. You have to do the best with what you have. If your settlement fails, you lose and it is game over.
One of the biggest things you have to deal with in the settlement is expansion and diplomacy. When you first expand, you do so into unclaimed territory without a ton of repercussions. When you get too big though, you start to encroach on another baron’s land and might have to fight for it. You might be able to convince them to give the property up for the right price, but if not, there might be a battle. You also have to worry about this facet with your land. The other barons are hungry to power and territory as well, and if they think you are weak they will might strike. The game does an excellent job at keeping you busy with things to do in the 60+ hours of gameplay you will get from it.
While you are out exploring, you sometimes come across skill challenges to access new areas or bonus loot. The game automatically takes the character with the best stat to try it. It is all or nothing; if they fail, you all fail. Conversely, if they succeed, you all succeed. Now and then you will enter a storybook moment, which is an event told from the perspective of Linzi. During these, you have a multitude of options to pick from. There was a cart stuck in a raging river with the ponies freaking out. You can choose to cut the ponies free, try to free the cart, or ignore it altogether. Two of those have stat options next to them and have a skill check you have to beat. Obviously, success if the best route, but even in failure you can get some funny results.
The combat in Pathfinder: Kingmaker is a little weird. I really do think it would have been better if it was completely turn based, but it isn’t. You can pause the combat to select your spells and then resume which makes it better, but it isn’t perfect. When you have six characters, and three of them have spells, and everyone has to be positioned a certain way, it can get to be overwhelming quickly. Then, if you pause every few seconds, you might as well be turned based anyways. I did get used to it after around 10 hours – just be ready to be hitting the space bar a lot unless you are playing on easy.
I did run into quite a few bugs during my playthrough. Bugged quests and items were preventing me from completion. Weird bugged doors that would split my party making it so one or members couldn’t get through the doorway. Certain items and spells didn’t work correctly. The development team has been putting out a lot of patches since release though; they are working hard. Thankfully, there were no hard crashes.
Pathfinder: Kingmaker is a solid, but flawed, pen-and-paper RPG in video game form. If you are a fan of isometric RPGs or Pathfinder, you will find a lot to like here.