This title certainly takes things slow, but it runs so deep and expands in so many directions at once that it’s hard to label it anything other than a true achievement. I whole-heartedly recommend it to anyone who might consider themselves an RPG fan.
A unique open world RPG set in Bohemia around the year 1403 that focus on realism. This is not only valid for architecture, culture and society. It breaks with (invalid) tropes. For example swords are a poor weapon against heavy armored foes in chain and plate armor. Even a gambeson is a solid deference that protects you or lets say dampen the impacts. Ever wondered why maces and flails exist? This is the reason. Just button mashing on enemies gets you killed as fast as attacking multiple enemies without a plan or preparation. Your character is also the son of a blacksmith so he cant read (can learn it ingame), has no battle training and also no thievery skills. However you can improve all skills on a learning by doing base. As you get better you unlock new skills. Some are really helpful. Special warning: Lock-picking and pick-pocketing are really hard. Many failed even at the tutorial lock. Advice: You can train pick-pocketing at your first trainer. (Re)practice until level 6 and then train after saving at sleeping persons. For lock-picking: Even when you break your lock-pick you get experience points. Train on very easy locks until you get a level 3 and level 6 perk (If I remember the levels correctly). The first improves the duration of lock picks and the second makes it easier to open locks. After this you will hardly ever break a lock-pick. While I am at it: Collecting herbs and brewing potions are a fast way to get money. But remember to know a recipe you should be able to read. I like the character progression. As you level your abilities and try to pick battles the smart way you always feel challenged and see your improvements. Another unique feature is the charisma system that is again a realistic representation. People will be horrified or disgusted if you are in torn armor / clothes or drenched in blood after battles. They will remind you and you should take a bath;-). There is a reputation system in the game. Because news spread slowly you have to be careful in each town. For the story: It is excellent. The main story is about a power struggle. The ruler Wenceslaus the fourth who is know in history as “The Idle” was a weak ruler. His brother Sigismund wanted his throne. There are also struggles by higher nobles who change sides. Your lord Radzig Kobyla is by rank a lower noble loyal to his (idle) King but has also a lucrative fief and some influence that makes him more important. I will stop here with this introduction. The story itself is great. Your protagonist Henry experience a lot. You will be involved with commoners, nobles, priest, merchants and rouges of all calibers. There are many memorable (side) quests and I like the way that you have nearly always multiple approaches or solutions. There is even sometimes the choice to sabotage your quest givers intentions or solve it in ways he would not approve. Be warned that some quest have a time-limit or have bad outcomes when you take too long (Timer starts when you obtain these side quests). A well developed speech skill helps a lot. Also there is a good portion of humor in the game. I will advice you to take care of you character and skills. I wont spoil more of the quest and only say there is so much fun here. My only critique are some bugs. Sometimes characters clothes or armor clip in late, I had one hard crash and once I was unable to damage my enemies no matter what I did (A restart helped while reloading did not). This however did not taint the experience. I must warn you that you can not save at any time. You need an item called Savior Schnaps to do it (Can be bought or crafted with alchemy). You can autosave by sleeping for at least 1 hour. Be also warned: It is more a slice of life with interesting twists. You will not be king or a legendary hero foretold by legends. It features realism not tropes. Maybe a deal-breaker for some but not me. Overall it is a challenging game especially at the beginning. The character improvement and learning coupled with great characters and an engaging story won me over. I will say it is not for everyone but also it can be a unique and great experience. Watch a bit of tutorials on YouTube and get a bit of advice how to play beforehand.
I don't think I've ever encountered a game like this, where there has been so much joy and frustration in equal amounts.
The story: The story starts well and rather cliché, however this is not a problem. By about the midway point things started to drag on quite a bit. Some characters popped up out of nowhere and the only interesting dynamic is between Henry and Radzig, which in itself took an odd turn that actually defeated the purpose of the game being you playing as a peasant. Story arcs like Theresa and Stephanie never see themselves developed very far in the main game. By the end of the main quest it seemed that there were many loose ends. Perhaps this was intentional, but it made the ending rather unsatisfying. Furthermore, several quests were almost agony to complete, such as the monastery quest and collecting meat and herbs near the end. These were excruciating and I would have quit had I not been so close to the end.
The graphics: these are quite good, although far from the pinnacle of what this generation is capable of. The environments are probably the most alluring aspect, as it can be a pleasure to traipse around on horseback and admire the bucolic greenery. However the environments are one-dimensional, being mostly green. Having said that, there were no shortage of the infamous bugs and glitches. Fortunately most were harmless and amusing, while others saw buildings and trees appear out of thin air to knock me off my horse.
This leads me to my biggest gripe with this game and the concept that marred everything.
Realism and gameplay: this was great in theory, however in execution the realism aspect of the game is either ridiculously unrealistic (for which I am grateful for) or tedious and monotonous. For example, feeding and sleeping are two realistic elements that just get in my way as I play. In games such as Skyrim these are merely ways to regain health, and while this holds true for KCD, if you go too long without eating or sleeping you can actually die. This detracts from my gameplaying and enjoyment of the game. Fortunately this mechanic is not unforgiving, however it still becomes a nuisance. The reason I mentioned I am grateful for unrealistic elements is that they actually make the game much more fluid and enjoyable, such as being able to whistle and have your horse appear next to you no matter where you last dismounted. There is also a skill called 'nutcracker' which essentially gives you a 10% chance of knocking someone out with a single headshot. This can become rather overpowered but also highly useful in longer battles and where you are outnumbered. Furthermore, another ability allows you to eat expired food without consequence; unrealistic yet it removed a frustrating element of the game for me and afforded me more enjoyment,
Also, the combat and skills of Henry are ridiculously executed. When you start the game it makes sense to be low-level, however Henry's lack of ability to do anything easily is not realistic and is not enjoyable. The tedium I experienced as I levelled up enough to complete simple tasks almost put me off the game entirely. This makes the game stupidly difficult in the opening hours of the game, where they should be trying to draw us in and ease us in gently.
The combat was what most interested me as it seemed a lot more sophisticated than Skyrim, however this sophistication ended up becoming an incoherent and inconsistent mess. Mechanics such as auto-lock-on are fine in one-on-one combat, however I found it a rarity that i fought in this manner. The mechanics make it very difficult to enjoy, and after several failed attempts I ended up completing the final missions by hanging back and shooting arrows while my companions did the sword-fighting, or sneaked in cheap potshots while my opponents were preoccupied. This is entirely realistic, yet it undermines the game's own combat system and I ended up killing my enjoyment as often as I killed enemies. Also, Henry was so absolutely useless with archery when I first played that I ignored the bow for most of the game, which apparently was a bad move on my part yet the game did little to encourage the use of it.
Had they actually aimed to make this game enjoyable and fun instead of realistic, it could easily have been a five-star game. Instead we are left with frustrating mechanics, inconsistency, and even bugs in this 'Royal' edition. After a few hours of grinding and monotony the game did open up and become more enjoyable, especially after earning money. However I actually do not recommend this game for most people. The time and effort I invested in it is definitely not worth the return. It certainly has its charm, but I prefer Shouting enemies off cliffs in Skyrim, or felling demons in The Witcher 3, to constantly getting riposted and losing an hour's progress in KCD any day.
Oh, and the DLC? Maybe I'll come back to give it a go later. Maybe. For now I've had more than enough.
If there was ever a game that met mediocrity with absolute precision this would be the one. Sloppy mechanics and story that left you wondering why you are still playing. Lacks in areas where it matters and overextended in areas where it could have been chopped in half or less. Seems like it tried to mimic Elder Scrolls without the flair and failed miserably.