A great adaptation of the original Pathfinder gamebooks. The story is sidelined by tough tactical combat - its steep difficulty may be daunting to genre newbies, but D&D veterans will be delighted. There are technical problems, yes, but those are overshadowed by refreshing kingdom management and interesting companions.
Not immune to bugs, Pathfinder: Kingmaker brings one of the best cRPG experiences I've ever participated in. With extremely interesting and charismatic companions, be ready to dive into this quite complex but captivating and surprising story.
This game is amazing, it mixes Sim City, Age Of Empires 2 with Neverwinter Nights!! It's better than Baldur's Gate 3, and while I love Baldurs Gate 3 I have to admit that Pathfinder Kingmaker and Pathfinder Wrath of Righteous are infinitely better.
Pathfinder: Kingmaker is an incredibly extensive and complex RPG with great story, characters and fresh ideas surrounding the kingdom building. Unfortunately it suffers from some design flaws, bugs and excessive loading screens.
Pathfinder: Kingmaker is a competent and efficient classical RPG that introduces a new interesting managerial aspect but is also affected by a lot of boring and uninteresting moments. Crashes and bugs also don’t help.
A lack of balanced difficulty and explanation of core concepts set alongside too many time consuming, anachronistic design choices distract from Pathfinder: Kingmaker's nuanced story telling, moral dilemmas and enjoyable decision making.
Pathfinder: Kingmaker sets up an epic story, expansive world, difficult combat, and lively characters, but all these elements eventually become tiresome. Its unforgiving difficulty and strict adherence to Pathfinder tabletop rules will likely turn away more players than it attracts, and while its kingdom management sim sets it apart from similar RPGs, no part of the game ever feels wholly original. Despite boldly putting players in the role of a king or queen, it never engages enough with the consequences of your decisions, or whether you have the right to make them at all.
In Pathfinder: Kingmaker, you can see the footprints of many great names in the video games industry, but it seems that the main development team was neither able nor experienced enough to execute the game’s ideas and potentials in a right way, and even if you don’t take its many technical issues into consideration, Pathfinder: Kingmaker is still far from a proper CRPG.
This is one hell of a CRPG. I'm glad I played it after it was heavily patched though, as those opening months of release must have been brutal. This, along with Pathfinder: Wrath of the Righteous are some of the best CRPGs I've ever played. Like most CRPGs, there are a few bugs and issues but I'd say this is on par with CRPG classics like Baldur's Gate 2. Not to be missed if you're into this sort of thing but fair warning, as the learning curve can be a kick in the teeth for people that aren't used to D&D or Pathfinder. It's a hard game and you need to know what you're doing. You're going to be deep in the stats and you're going to get a LOT of hours out of this game, so set aside a LOT of time. Great stuff though. Can't recommend it enough.
A well-meaning tRPG hitting on nostalgia notes of Baldur's Gate and Planescape: Torment. However, the balancing of the end-game is ridiculous. Wolves should not have higher stats than my level 16 barbarian ffs. Main story was good, side-stories could be hit or miss. Enjoyed overall tho.
Pathfinder: Kingmaker is the hardest game I've played this century. Granted, I sort of asked for it by playing on "Challenging" mode, but the combat isn't the hardest part. The difficulty is, in many ways, both its biggest strength and biggest weakness. Years in the future I'll remember how I got past the hardest fights in this game. In fact, I won't remember anything about the unremarkable story or the unremarkable characters. I'll only remember the PnP and how I actually managed to whoop the giant fireball that is the final boss.
I both love and hate PnP rules. I understand why they made it like this. It makes a good succinct pitch to a board of directors because they don't play games and have short attention spans and they they will reject complexity. But you can hide complexity when you pitch it as "PnP rules", even though much of that complexity is outright gratuitous.
There are half a dozen different ways to die in combat besides a zero hp. If dexterity on your mage is zero you die. If strength is zero, you die. If you turn to stone, you die. The default result for anything is you die, and reviving a dead player is so expensive you'll usually reload.
Most of my reloads weren't because I actually lost but because things went sour in ways that were too annoying. There are dozen ways your enemies can break your 'will' score and make your team useless. You'll start fights charmed, confused, dazed, asleep, laughing uncontrollably, etc., I always reloaded and hurriedly cast one of dozens of completely different buffs before the fight. The same goes for if the enemy AI targets my mages instead of my tanks. (Quite a few fights come down to which of your people the AI decided to target.)
I'm generally against streamlining in games, but does it really make sense that stoneskin protects against slashes but not arrows?
At least the buff spells are guaranteed to work. Most offensive spells never work unless the enemy is already easy to defeat. P:K's fighting odds are stacked against the player who fights anything more than one level higher, while anything more than one level lower is very easy. Attacks on higher level enemies will nearly always miss, while lower levelled ones get hit with crits.
If it's going to be like that then why have combat at all? Why not just auto-win any fight with lower level enemies and auto lose higher level fights?
Too much of P:K's game play feels like I'm rolling dice and repeatedly reloading a save and re-rolling. No where is this more prevalent than the kingdom management. A hint to new players: your kingdom managers have to succeed. The dice are rolled once before the day of a project's completion. Keep reloading until they succeed.
Playing P:K's kingdom management feels like playing Civilization on diety mode. Winning means reloading hundreds of times. To make things more annoying, there are situations where your entire kingdom is paralyzed for two weeks while you upgrade something or annex something. You often have to re-run that two week cycle in hope of rolling a better outcome.
What happens when the outcome is poor? Your kingdom can die and the game ends. There are at least two separate stability scores that can fall to zero. I remember one particular time when I was crowned king and there was a long sequence of dialogue about how great I was doing. Then I ran the skip day feature and my kingdom flopped over like a wet corn flake. Stability equals zero. Game over.
Nothing stressed me so much as that stability score. All sorts of things can reduce it and very few things bring it back up. Your kingdom is periodically invaded by hill giants or other stability-reducing enemies that would be a minor nuisance if you had to actually fight them. But you can't. Instead they have to be purged using kingdom management, and the stability penalty (usually) doesn't get restored after you've rolled the dice a dozen times and gotten rid of them.
Thankfully, you can throw your citizens a feast and bring stability back. I spent most of my in game money on feasts.
Speaking of feasts, if this game were a pizza it would be lined with ghost peppers. The hot spiciness would disguise the fact that the sausage is rancid and the dough has whitefly larvae the same way as the difficulty disguises the fact that the story is uninspired, the characters are a cliche mix of cutesy and arrogant, and the C&C is not all that deep. For example, there is one character whose entire persona turns out to have been completely false, but if you forgive him his betrayal he reverts to that deception as if it never happened and everyone else does too.
That said, the game hides its depth well. I wasn't expecting some of the twists in the main conflict. The game is also pleasantly long. There are lots of environments and enemies crammed into it.
Would I recommend P:K? Maybe. I'll definitely consider buying the sequel. But I'm not replaying the original.
If not for performance issues, I could rate this an 8.
This game is a buggy crashing mess at least. I can honestly say I haven't had a play experience yet where I didn't get at least 1 crash or fatal glitch that forced me to stop playing and restart everything. Characters sometimes get stuck, bounce through walls, or just annoyingly get in your way. Just moments before this review, I got the familiar save error (i.e. there becomes no way to save a game), so had to close the game and restart again. Load times are another pain in the ass and average 1+ minute.
As for the story itself and the gaming elements, its excellent. Managing a kingdom, building towns, and seeing the progress is satisfying. The leveling systems are a bit interesting, though way too much for my tastes (really need 10+ schools of magic? 20+ classes?). Playing melee is the opposite experience as main builds learn almost nothing in skills. There are many questionable/terrible design choices along the way, like having limited control during battles, having commands ignored, etc. The crap battle management ( maybe a PS4 issue) makes issuing commands as fun as juggling broken glass bottles - all I can do is crank difficulty to 0 and let the crap AI auto everything. Even the equipment system is trashy as "more powerful" items seem to make no difference other than cosmetics.
SummaryPathfinder: Kingmaker is the first isometric party-based computer RPG set in the Pathfinder fantasy universe. Enjoy a classic RPG experience inspired by games like Baldur's Gate, Fallout 1 and 2 and Arcanum. Explore and conquer the Stolen Lands and make them your kingdom!