I have never played a tabletop RPG. It is something I have always wanted to try and do, but my friends and I have just never gotten around to trying one. I absolutely adore RPGs in a video game format, something about creating your own character and exploring a rich, lore-filled world at your own pace has always greatly appealed to me. So, when the chance came to play and review a game such as Pathfinder: Kingmaker, I jumped at the chance.
Just a quick note about the review before we get going; This will obviously be written with no prior knowledge of the legendary Dungeons & Dragons campaign it is based on. This is a review solely on a noob’s experience. Without further ado, here is our review on Pathfinder: Kingmaker.
When you first boot Pathfinder up, you are asked to do what you do in many other (and to me, more familiar) RPGs, create your character. For a game based on a Dungeons & Dragons campaign, I was expecting to become lost straight away in the detail of creating my virtual self, but to be honest, developers Owlcat Games must have known there would be clueless noobs like me trying their hand at this epic title, so they did make it fairly straightforward to get started.
As you can imagine from the “Definitive Edition“ in Pathfinder’s title, this is the base game, which came out on PC back in 2017, with all the added DLC included as well, which makes Pathfinder an absolutely enormous game! The map is divided into 13 areas, and with each chapter taking days to complete (at least for me, anyway), and chapter 1 only let you access the first two regions, you can see just how big Pathfinder is. Added in with the size of the world, Pathfinder is not just your typical RPG. It is part RPG and part kingdom management game!
Yep, that’s right. Not only do you have to take part in epic quests, but you also need to manage your kingdom like it’s a Civilization game. Thankfully you can set the computer to take care of the daily tasks, which will leave you to focus on combat/defending your territory.
If you have played a Baldur’s Gate title or any other RPG based on that system, you will be familiar with Pathfinder, on the surface, anyway. The camera is fixed above your head, and you move by pointing a cursor to an area and pressing X.
Pathfinder is a tough game. Combat is regular and extremely unforgiving. If you do not go into a dungeon with the right items, then you will find yourself loading an earlier save to stock up on what you need. The difficulty is something that could put players off if they haven’t played an RPG like this before, especially in the early parts.
The combat is not turn-based, but again, more akin to Baldur’s Gate in that everything happens in real-time, but you can pause the game at any point to issue orders. It will take some getting used to, which Pathfinder is more than happy to help you with as you will be dying a lot in the first few hours. Battles can get rather messy on-screen with numerous enemies and your party all doing something, but pausing the game to try and change the tide of a battle is a welcome feature.
Pathfinder is also incredibly dialogue-heavy. If you are someone who doesn’t want to sit through novel-length bits of dialogue, then this might not be for you. Usually, I am fine with long bits of dialogue, but I did find myself skipping occasionally in a conversation to miss something completely, only to go back to the beginning. It’s not that the dialogue is boring, there is just a lot of it. Pathfinder is 100% a game you do not want to have any distractions nearby to you. Turn that phone off, put the kids to bed; otherwise, you’ll be finding yourself turning off the game before you’ve gotten through half a conversation.
Developer: Owlcat Games
Publisher: Deep Silver
Platforms: PS4, Xbox One, PC
Release Date: 18th August 2020
Gaming Respawn’s copy of Pathfinder: Kingmaker Definitive Edition was provided by the publisher.