This is not a ‘fair’ review of Kingdom Come: Deliverance (KC:D) because I only got to quest 10 out of 28 in the main chain, and did just a few side quests. Feel free to dismiss because things get better later. Maybe they do.
The reason I am doing this ‘review’ now is because I just can’t deal with KC:D anymore, mostly the combat, but also other issues. The sad thing is KC:D has a lot of good going for it, and that good is why I put up with the bad, but I just can’t anymore.
Here is a perfect example of why KC:D is ultimately more frustration than fun: Load up the game, do a quest where I talk to someone, go through some dialog chains that feature decent to good voice work and some fun dialog, get asked to find someone in an area. Start searching the area, enjoying the scenery and the unknown. After some searching, including finding some hidden loot spots and other points of interest, I find the person I’m looking for, only they have been captured by bandits, so I now have to fight them. Because the combat is dogshit vs two enemies, I die. Because the game also features a dogshit save system, I’m back at the start of the play session. Zero progress made in let’s say 30 minutes. Assuming I haven’t quit the game for the night/forever, I replay that section, only this time I fast forward through the dialog, know exactly where to go for the search (missing out on the random stuff I found because it doesn’t matter ‘that much’), and cheese my way through the fight. Maybe. Or I die again and once again repeat. Maybe I cheese that and drink a ‘save the game’ item right before the fight. Either way by the time I beat the fight, I’m exhausted rather than entertained.
The above happens every single time the game asks you to fight more than two enemies. Hell, it might happen when you fight one if you lose, but at least 1v1 the combat system doesn’t feel terrible. If the game was smart it would auto-save before every combat encounter, so if you lost you would reload to right before it, and then have the option to leave or fight again. Not only does the game not do that, it doesn’t even let you manually save without using an item (that initially you don’t have a lot of, though even at my point I had enough eventually).
That is my main issue with the game, but it’s not the only one. The economy in the game is a complete mess. If you don’t abuse lockpicking and stealing, you will be dirt poor. If you do steal, you quickly become filthy rich with access to basically all the gear you could want. And much like combat, stealing is as much about saving and trying again as anything else, because the penalty for being caught is so extreme it’s pointless to accept failure. Inventory management with weight restrictions is a pain, and you end up transferring your loot to your horse, and then back to your inventory when it’s time to sell. Just pointless clicking for the sake of clicking. Bonus annoyance points with every interaction with a shop keeper and the haggle mini-game, where the game thinks its fun to play the same canned 3-4 dialog lines every time, every offer and counter offer. The first two times its cute, the 100th it gets added to the long list of annoying things the game does.
There are also a lot of little things, like the clutter of so many items that have no real value or use, or the lockpicking mini-game being as annoying as the one in Skyrim. There are a variety of UI issues, between info being hidden deep in menus or just obscure, to there being a lot of systems that are in the game but don’t feel important enough to care about. In short, the game is far, far from perfect, and contains a lot of stuff that I would consider amateurish design mistakes.
I saw all of the above because it sadly takes away from what KC:D does well. For starters, the world is gorgeous. Not just from a technical perspective of polygons and such, but in that it feels lived-in, and looks the part. A small village and its layout makes sense, as does that of a larger city. That pulls you into the game and its setting. I also enjoyed the story overall from what I saw, at least the main quest. The side quests were pretty hit or miss. I liked the little details, like an accident scene of an overturned wagon that you can search to find some treasure in, or a random encounter with an unsure knight who challenges you to a duel because that’s what we believes he should do. The character you play, Henry, is also for the most part relatable and enjoyable. He’s not a shining paragon of virtue, but he also isn’t the recent trend of complete moral grey. He mostly tries and cares, and that makes you try and care (until you ragequit anyway).
If nothing else, KC:D makes me more excited for the next Elder Scrolls game. Give me this level of detail for world design, but with better combat, and I’m all the way in.