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Kingdom Come: Deliverance - title

In a Nutshell


  • Decisions and actions have weight and consequence
  • Committed to immersing the player in the setting
  • Fast travel simulates the time and resource cost of travel
  • Non-fantasy medieval setting


  • Horribly buggy and unstable
  • Not stable enough for such a restrictive save system
  • No opportunity to practice game mechanics in a safe setting
  • Very poor about providing clear instructions or options
  • Game feel is just really wonky
  • Constantly dropping inputs
  • UI is cluttered and difficult to read
  • Lockpicking is exceedingly finicky
  • Lots of texture and asset pop-in

Overall Impression : F+ / D-
Come back in 6-12 months, when it'll hopefully be stable

Kingdom Come: Deliverance - cover

Warhorse Studios

PC (via Steam),
PlayStation 4 < (via retail disc or PSN digital download),
XBox One (via retail disc or XBox Live digital download).
(< indicates platform I played for review)


Original release date:
13 February 2018

historical open world RPG

ESRB Rating: M (for Mature 17+) for:
Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, Nudity,
Strong Language, Strong Sexual Content, Use of Alcohol

single-player only

Official site:

I tried. I really did. I wanted to give Kingdom Come: Deliverance a chance. I wanted to give it the benefit of the doubt.

I had been passively watching this game for a while, and was looking forward to its release. I didn't realize that it was a Kickstarter project. I thought it was just an independent developer self-publishing a game, like Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice, which was friggin' awesome! So I didn't contribute towards the Kickstarter. But I did pay $60 for PS4 digital download of the game, and I deeply regret the decision.

If you're gonna charge the same retail price as a polished, publisher-backed game, then I expect the game to show something approaching that level of polish. Kingdom Come is just too wonky and unstable right now. Maybe in six or twelve months I might be able to pick it back up and enjoy it. As of now, however, I consider the game borderline unplayable.

Kingdom Come has ambitions to be Skyrim or The Witcher III, but it lacks the polish.

Scummy saves

The nail in the coffin is the game's restrictive and punitive save system. I'm a fan of diagetic save systems, and this particular save system could probably work really well if the game were just in a more stable and robust condition. I want to emphasize that this worked brilliantly in Resident Evil (and in survival horror in general) because the challenge and difficulty of survival horror came from having to manage a slowly dwindling supply of resources and health. Very few (if any) encounters outside of boss fights were even capable of bringing you from full health to dead, and even the boss fights were clearly telegraphed so that you had plenty of warning to go back, restock your supplies, and save. When to save (and whether or not to overwrite your previous save) became a part of strategy, especially in the case of Resident Evil with its limited, inventory-space-consuming Ink Ribbons.

Reloading from savior schnapps makes you drunk.

Basically, Kingdom Come only auto-saves at the start of a major new quest. You can trigger a manual save by sleeping or by drinking a special type of rare and expensive alcoholic consumable. If you re-load after using the savior schnapps, the character is also inebriated. This seems, to me, to be an attempt to punish players for save-scumming. It also means that if you get tired or have to step away for whatever reason, and you didn't just complete a quest and are not in a convenient position to save (either lacking access to a bed, unable to risk being drunk when you reload, or simply don't have savior schapps), then you are just screwed.

Until this game gets to a more playable state, this save system needs to be relaxed immensely, or relegated to a "hard core" or "ironman" mode. Because the game is so bad at tutorializing mechanics and at presenting information to the player or warning you that what you're about to try to do won't work, save-scumming is almost necessary just to figure out how basic mechanics work in the limited opportunities that the game gives you to practice them. Tutorials drop walls of text on you without actually giving you an opportunity to practice the thing being tutorialized, so that you aren't given a chance to reinforce the concepts in your mind before the game moves on to something else.

Nowhere is this more apparent than the game's borderline un-usable lock-picking system that requires using the right stick to hold a cursor over a point on the lock while you rotate the whole lock with the left stick. OK, it's not actually un-usable; the pick-pocketing system is actually much worse. The problem is that lock-picking is very touchy, and a failure breaks your lockpick. Early in the game, you're given two opportunities to learn the mechanic. In one case, you're given enough money to buy a single lock-pick. So I walked up to the chest, tried to pick its lock, promptly broke the pick as soon as I turned the left analog stick because I was given no instruction on how to actually do this task, and now I was out of lockpicks. As far as I knew, this made this early-game story quest impossible to finish. Apparently there is an alternate way to resolve the quest, but I wandered around for an hour or two and couldn't find it. I had to reload from the auto-save at the beginning of the quest (two hours of gameplay lost), and then used the savior schnapps to save-scum until I got the lock picked.

The game is unwilling to give you the practice you need to get the hang of lockpicking.

Of course, the game can't even save its data properly. Upon reloading, all the guards' positions had reset. So upon reload, I was standing in front of the locked chest, inside a restricted room, with a guard literally standing over me. Not realizing that the guard was right there, I went to pick the chest and immediately was arrested. This triggers a series of un-skippable cutscenes that I had to sit through before being able to reload my scum-save and try again. Each time I failed to unlock the chest (or got arrested doing so), I had to re-load the scum-save, immediately run out of the restricted room, wait several moments for the guard within to leave the room on his own accord, then sneak back in and try picking the lock. The turnaround time for each of these attempts was something like ten minutes.

The next opportunity to practice picking locks comes two quests later, and this may actually be the intended tutorial for the mechanic. You can ask a character to teach you how to lockpick. He only gives you five picks to practice with however, and you're stuck having to practice on an "easy" lock instead of a "very easy" one. The timing and movements for this is much tighter than for the very easy lock, and I failed all five attempts, ran out of lockpicks, and was thus prevented from being able to continue practicing. The game doesn't even bother to tell you how many lockpicks you have available when you're in the lockpicking screen, which means I had no idea that my supplies for this tutorial were limited, let alone how many lockpicks I had available to make the attempts.

I tried going ahead with the quest anyway, which required me to steal a ring from within someone's house. Since I knew I couldn't pick a lock to save my life, I tried just knocking the guy out and using his key to get into his house. This worked, except that when I tried leaving his house with the pilfered loot, I couldn't walk through his doorway. I tried closing it and re-opening it, but couldn't walk through. I tried walking through while it was closed, and no luck there either. The man eventually woke up, and immediately caught me within his house, which I literally could not leave because of a game bug.

The breaking point for me was loosing hours of progress because I got stuck in a doorway.

That was nearly the breaking point for me, and I had to turn the game off and come back several days later after I'd cooled off enough to give it another chance. After powering through all the dialogue again and the first part of the lock-picking quest, I had my character take a 1-hour nap to force the game to save before trying the lockpicking. This allowed me to get through it and proceed with the rest of the game. Hopefully, I'd find more merit in the ensuing quests.

Wonky and buggy

It wasn't just the lockpicking that irritated me. My entire play-time was filled with other minor annoyances, frustrating aggravations, and outright game-breaking bugs.

In addition to failing miserably at teaching its lock-picking mechanics, the game also doesn't do a particularly good job at teaching combat (or anything else, for that matter). You get to practice in a sparring arena with wooden swords, but the opponent doesn't really attack back, and there's very little feedback as to whether you're doing what you're supposed to be doing. The next two fights that you're likely to get into are basically "supposed-to-lose" fights. One is technically winnable, but is borderline impossible since you are surrounded by a bunch of armored soldiers who were just about to rape a villager. The next is a fight that you must lose in order to progress the narrative.

Early combat encounters are impossible to win, leaving me unsure if I actually know how to fight.

In effect, combat is tutorialized with a single sparring match that provides poor feedback on what you're doing right or wrong, followed by two fights that you cannot win, followed by a second tutorial where the game finally explains something to you. I walked out of these early fights not sure if I had any clue whether I'd be able to hold my own when it came time for a real fight. I could see this as maybe being valid if the point was to convey the idea that the character thinks he's more competent than he actually is, only to be humbled by the enemies that he encounters. But again, with such a restrictive, punitive save system, that sort of narrative gameplay is a non-starter.

I feel like I might actually be able to really enjoy the game's combat system (at least in one-on-one duels) if I could manage to get far enough into the game to actually get a feel for it. As it stands though, I have no idea how deep or complex this system gets, or how good it might feel at higher levels of play. At the time of writing this, I'm mostly just swinging my sword in random directions and hoping the enemy doesn't hit me.

Despite that optimistic hopefulness, I do have concerns over the game's camera control during combat. Since you use the right stick to set the direction of your sword swing, that stick is no longer usable for camera control. This means that whenever you're in combat, you are locked to looking straight in front of you. This is fine for one-on-one fights, but if you're outnumbered or surrounded, then you have no sense of what's going on around you.

My horse missed the bridge and got stuck in this creek until I died.

Even outside of combat, the general game feel is also pretty horrid. I feel like inputs are consistently being dropped, or there's such a long delay between pressing a button and the action actually happening, that I have to push the button multiple times before the character actually does anything. The first-person camera is very restrictive. I generally don't like first person games because of how restrictive a first-person camera is and how much it limits situational and environmental awareness. There's no look-back or chase cam, so when you're being pursued (which happens in the opening quests), you can't easily see how close your pursuer is. There's also no on-screen indicator for when you're crouched, and I often couldn't tell if I was crouched or not. I would have to look at the character's feet to see if I was crouched. The entire character is modeled and animated, so there's no technical reason why the game can't include an option to play in third person, even if you do have to go into the bloody menu to activate it.

Robin Hood: Men in Tights - help me I can't swim

Navigating on horseback also proved to be an exercise in frustration. The horse controls kind of like a tank, in that you use one stick to move the horse, and the other to free look. But the horse doesn't automatically turn int he direction you look. So it's really easy (in first person) to get the horse turned around and not know what direction it's facing. This lead to me getting the horse stuck in the environment and getting killed almost as soon as I climbed onto it in the second quest of the game. After reloading, the horse managed to miss stepping onto a bridge and instead fell into an inch-deep creek. The horse got stuck, and I couldn't move. Again, the pursuing enemies killed me.

Throughout the rest of my playtime, I also had a persistent issue in which the horse would have moved and is pointing in some random direction after I'd return from looking at the map screen to try to get my bearings. I guess the horse was still accepting inputs while I was navigating the map and menus?

Alchemy tables cause my character to fly into the air and then die when he falls.

The pickpocketing mini game is also similarly clumsy. Despite asking to be taught how to pickpocket, and being in an obvious tutorial, the game provided no explanation of what to actually do. There's a weird timer thing that you have to hold the button to activate. The longer you hold the timer, the more time you get to rummage through the victim's pockets, but it also increases the odds that they'll catch you. Once you're in their pocket, you have to navigate a radial menu to find the item you want to pinch, but the navigation controls have a horrendous lag that makes the whole thing more difficult and annoying than it needs to be. Why couldn't they just have normal controls, but give you less time to pick the pocket?

The NPCs detect stealth very easily,
but are still dumb as a doornail.

All these frustrations are when the game is actually working. In other instances, I saw game-breaking glitches. In addition to the above door issue, I also had a problem in which alchemy benches would propel my character straight up into the sky. When I'd exit alchemy, he'd fall to his death. This happened every time I tried to do alchemy. I even spent a Savior Schnapps in the hopes of being able to reload and avoid the glitch. No luck. I guess that's what I get for trying to brew more Savior Schnapps. My girlfriend joked that my attempts at alchemy got my character so high that he died. Haha, good one.

Wasting the player's time

The game also wastes a lot of the player's time. In addition to the long load screens and the frequent reloading, it just takes forever to get anything done in this game. There's annoyingly long, unnecessary animations whenever your character picks something up, and the screen often goes black for a few moments going in and out of dialogue, menus, and so forth. Whenever you sleep or wait or fast travel, you have to sit through an obnoxiously long clock to rotate through the in-game hours.

The map is very stylish, but it isn't very practical to read.

There's also numerous issues with the UI. The menus are kind of cumbersome and difficult to read. When you open up an info panel for an item, you have to use the left stick to scroll through text, so you can't effectively scroll through inventory items with the info panel open because you have to first scroll through all the text before moving onto the next item. Instead, you have to press the button to open the info, then press the button to close it, then scroll to the next item, then press the button to open the info panel again. Ugh. When you stop at a cooking pot or sit down on a bed, the game also doesn't bother to tell you what your nourishment or rest levels are without you having to go into the menu.

The map is stylish, but not very practical. The radar compass is small and difficult to read, and often gets cluttered with tiny icons that are made even more difficult to read because they overlap one another.

There's also a lot of graphical issues. Textures, and even whole assets such as clothing, pops in and out. Looking for a particular townie who wears a distinctive robe or hat? You may not recognize him or her because that robe or hat may not render until you're close anyway. Normally, I wouldn't complain about something superficial like this, but I would sometimes spend minutes searching around a town for a specific NPC, only to realize that he or she was exactly where I expected him or her to be, but I just didn't notice because the game didn't render his or her clothing properly.

I was looking for this guy in the hat, but the hat didn't render until I was closer.

Pointless Errand Quest: the game

It isn't just the gameplay that is wonky. The story and quest structure is kind of wonky too -- at least initially. Once you get to Rattay, the game re-tutorializes virtually everything that you've already done: combat, lockpicking, and so on. I guess this is to emphasize the fact that the character didn't know what the heck he was doing beforehand, and so now the game is trying to tell you all those things were supposed to have felt uncomfortable and borderline impossible. But it also comes off as making everything that happens before Rattay feel tacked on. It's like Henry's parents' death, fleeing to the Talmberg castle, burying his parents, and being ambushed while burying them should all have been handled in a brief playable introduction (or even a cutscene) rather than dragging on for hours and making the player feel like the game is just broken.

Sir Radzig already has swords and tells you not to bother recovering the sword.

A large chunk of the main quest involves Henry going on a futile and obsessive quest to retrieve a stolen sword because his last promise to his father was that he'd deliver the sword to its rightful owner. The problem is that the rightful owner doesn't even want the sword, and flat-out tells Henry not to bother. But you can't decide to take his advice.

This lack of player choice also bleeds over into character-building. You can build a non-combat character, focusing on Henry's vocational skills, speech, or whatever, but that will all just get you killed because you have to engage in combat. This is a common problem in RPG's like this. In fact, it was thee reason that I stopped playing The Elder Scrolls: Oblivion. In that game, I had built my class around mercantile and speech and had leveled those skills, but then I came to the first Oblivion Gate and realized that all the Daedra had their combat ability scaled to the level of my mercantile and speech skills, and I couldn't negotiate or bribe my way past the Daedra. Ten hours of gameplay flushed down the toilet because Bethesda lets the player create completely unviable builds. At least Kingdom Come does have an early scene in which the same character who tells you not to bother with the sword anymore also tells you that since you're gonna do the stupid sword quest anyway, then you should probably level-up your combat skills. Hint hint, wink wink, nudge nudge...

Sir Radzig is also kind enough to remind you that a fully non-combat build is not viable

That doesn't fix the fact, however, that being told that my quest is pointless and unnecessary doesn't really endear me to the idea of having to waste my time doing it, especially considering how long it takes to get mundane stuff done in this game. Hopefully, the actual quest turns out to be good and worth the time. After all, many seemingly "unnecessary" quests in The Witcher III are outright astounding.

It doesn't help that the early game is loaded with these lockpicking and pickpocketing quests. Most of the quest-giving NPCs that I meet ask me to do these criminal activities that are just far too risky to attempt. So far, I'm not being given very many other ways to make money. But the lockpicking and pickpocketing tasks are just so fucking hard -- even the "easy" ones. I'm constantly failing the checks, and even when I don't fail, I'm constantly being caught doing it, even when I'm trying to steal from people in the middle of the night when they're asleep. Am I expected to actually do these quests? Are these tasks supposed to be this hard? Am I supposed to just resign myself to going to jail?

I'm disappointed that I'm disappointed

I'm really disappointed that I wasn't able to enjoy this game. I had high hopes for it, and maybe if I just had the patience to persevere, then I might find something really worthwhile and redeeming hidden deep within this package. It's actually a really ambitious project with a lot of worthwhile goals and design philosophies. I often complain about how open world sandbox games usually lack narrative cohesion or consequences, or how the map itself often turns into little more than a scavenger hunt or convoluted mission-select screen.

Kingdom Come makes genuine efforts to resolve those complaints, and it takes its setting and story very seriously. There's tremendous attention to detail. Kingdom Come is fully committed to immersing the player in its medieval setting. The passage of time matters. Quest-givers supposedly won't sit around waiting indefinitely for you to solve their problems for them. Fighting can leave your character bruised and bloodied, and rummaging around in dirt or mud will leave you visibly dirty. How you're dressed and whether you're dirty or bloodied affects how people of different classes and dispositions react to your conversational choices. Combat and role-play decisions have really weighty consequences to them. Even fast travel wears down your character's resources and includes a risk of stumbling into a random encounter.

Fast travel actually takes time, depletes your survival meters, and has a risk of random encounters.

The actual story revolves around a large civil war, but it's told from the point of view of a peasant. You aren't some heroic warrior or pre-destined savior of the realm. You're just one thread in a large, complicated tapestry. The scale of the conflict is relatively large, but the scale of the actual story remains small and mostly personal.

These are all laudable goals. The game itself is just too rough around the edges for it all to pay off. The developers clearly put a lot of effort and thought into it, and I really want to be able to enjoy the fruit of their labor. I don't know if they just lack the talent to realize this highly ambitious project, or if they simply lacked the time and resources to make it all come together. Kingdom Come: Deliverance is just too ambitious for its own good. Maybe in six months or a year, I'll come back and the game will be more stable and play a lot more smoothly. Had it been a $30 or $40 indie title, I might be willing to give it a pass and conditional recommendation, but at the same price-point as a polished, $60 AAA title, it's just not worth it in its present state.

If you absolutely must play Kingdom Come and can't wait for the game to [hopefully] eventually get up to par, then do yourself a favor and at least play it on PC, with mouse and keyboard support and the potential for mods to make the game better. Though I'd recommend that you go play something like Mount & Blade instead.

The game will make note of your punctuality, or lack thereof.

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A gamer's thoughts

Welcome to Mega Bears Fan's blog, and thanks for visiting! This blog is mostly dedicated to game reviews, strategies, and analysis of my favorite games. I also talk about my other interests, like football, science and technology, movies, and so on. Feel free to read more about the blog.

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Without Gravity

And check out my colleague, David Pax's novel Without Gravity on his website!

Featured Post

The Humanity of NCAA Football's In-Season RecruitingThe Humanity of NCAA Football's In-Season Recruiting08/01/2022 If you're a fan of college football video games, then I'm sure you're excited by the news from early 2021 that EA will be reviving its college football series. They will be doing so without the NCAA license, and under the new title, EA Sports College Football. I guess Bill Walsh wasn't available for licensing either? Expectations...

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I didn't expect Deliver Us The Moon to be such a bleak sci-fi adventureI didn't expect Deliver Us The Moon to be such a bleak sci-fi adventure05/03/2023 It's really nice to be seeing more pure science fiction games. Not sci-fi action games like Mass Effect or sci-fi horror games like Prey, in which the sci-fi is just incidental set dressing. But actual science fiction games that explore the human condition as it relates to our advancing technology and understanding of the universe....

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