Originally, I tried this game back on Xbox Game Pass. I played about 5 minutes and decided I didn’t like it. I think the way Henry picked his breakfast up off of the table annoyed me. It was slow and clunky and I decided that I didn’t want to play a slow and clunky game.
Fast forward to a a few months ago and I was looking for something to play. Kingdom Come was $17 on the PS Store. That was for the Royal Edition as well, which included all of the DLC content. Sold! Here we are now, 150 something hours later and I am very much in love. So much so, that even though I just finished the game, I think I’m going to play it over again.
You definitely have to come into this game with an open mind and a willingness to learn. I mentioned I was put off by how slow the game felt early on. This is intentional. The game is designed to start slowly. You are a lowly blacksmiths boy, with no formal training or education. In short, you know nothing.
This makes the game very hard at first. You can’t fight, you can’t pick locks, you have no money or talents whatsoever. You are a pathetic boy, left alone in a man’s world. You have to learn to survive, and eventually, thrive.
By the end of the game, it goes from being difficult to a walk in the park. If you have honed your skills correctly, you no longer have anything to fear. This is true, even on hardcore mode. I played my first play through on hardcore, with all 9 negative perks active. I didn’t find it too difficult and I would encourage you all to try it, first time around or not. The game advises you not to start on hardcore, but I was fine.
My favourite thing about playing on Hardcore was how it made you appreciate the game. No HUD. No mini map or objective markers. No fast travel. Not even a compass. It was all you. If you needed to get somewhere, you needed to navigate it yourself, using a map and landmarks to find your way. It was a great way to appreciate the beauty of the game world and a great way to make yourself think. To pay attention and to remain engaged. At least at first. Eventually (it did take a while), I had most of the map memorised. By this stage, travelling from town to town stopped being fun and just became tedious. I wished their was an option to pay for someone to give you a lift or something!
Let’s backtrack though, To the beginning. Kingdom Come is set in 1403, in the medieval Kingdom of Bohemia. You play as Henry, the son of the local Blacksmith. Warhorse Studios, the developers behind the game, wanted to make it as realistic as possible. This applied to both the gameplay and having historically accurate content throughout – characters, cities, etc etc.
What begins as an average day for Henry, soon turns to be a horrid affair, leaving him on the run for his life. The story progresses quite nicely, and is mostly an enjoyable story. There are some parts that are a tad far-fetched and downright silly, such as Sir Radzig’s insistence on sending a blacksmith’s boy to do the work of an army, but if you can ignore that, it all makes sense. It ties together nicely by the ending anyhow.
I think the freedom that this game offers you is amazing, but I also felt discouraged from exerting my freedom upon the world. Maybe the developers were hoping for someone more mentally stable to play the game. Early on in the game, I slaughtered an entire village. Mainly for the loot. I left a high body count in my wake. In a cutscene that soon followed, Henry acted appalled at the thought of looting a corpse, because “god says he shouldn’t”. What does the Lord say about murder, boy?
To counteract this, I just pretended that Henry was a devoid of all emotion, the perfect killing machine, just pretending to be human and to have human emotions. Kind of like a 15th century Dexter. Now that is a movie I could get behind!
Aside from the fact that I felt like I had to be a good boy, the freedom offered in this game was amazing. Do you want to murder people in their sleep? Master the bow? The Sword? The Axe? Forego weapons altogether and become a master of fist fighting? Try and avoid conflict and sneak your way around everywhere? Do you want to lie, cheat and steal? Viva La Raza!
Throughout my time in the game (which was a lot) I experimented with a bit of everything. I really enjoyed fighting with the weapons, particularly the axe. I liked the idea of mastering the bow, but it often felt impractical. I am planning to dedicate more time to mastering the bow on a future play through.
The most fun I had though was when I was being a slimy villain. Poisoning people. Murdering them as they slept. Stealing all of their valuables. Not because I needed them. Not because I wanted them. Just because I could.
One of my first kills was an innocent villager in Skalitz. I snuck up behind her, choked her out and looted her unconscious corpse. I hid her amongst the cows and was planning on leaving her to wake up, but changed my mind somewhere. Henry wanted blood. I elected to kill her. I saw the prompt come up, so I pushed the button, thinking Henry would use his knife to slit her throat or something. Alas, no. He stomped on her face until she was dead. That was very, very unexpected and it even shocked me a little bit.
I would like to play the game again and truly embrace the role of a good Christian boy. A god fearing boy, determined to do what is right in the eyes of his lord. It sounds needlessly hard, but maybe that it is what the developers intended. No killing, no stealing, no dishonourable acts, no obsession of material goods. Just a good boy, trying to make the world a better place.
The great news is, you can play this game again and again. Whilst the story never changes, you can change. You can do things differently. With 5 DLC packs as well, there is always something to explore. One playthrough can easily net you 100 hours. It’s so addictive as well, I doubt you will be satisfied after just 1. I’m currently at 2.5 and still enjoy this game. I know that there is still things that I am yet to discover as well. I can’t wait to get back in to it!