When it comes to life experiences, everyone has a different story to tell. Even if two people are placed in the exact same situation, theirWhen it comes to life experiences, everyone has a different story to tell. Even if two people are placed in the exact same situation, their state of mind and previous life leading up to that moment will have an effect on how they view it. So when I had my wife start playing this for review purposes, I suddenly realized how big of a mistake it was watching the prologue and how it was unfolding. Admittedly, I’m unfamiliar with the original source material and the TV adaptation, so I was unsure of what to expect. The trailers seemed neat enough, and she certainly showed interest in it thinking it looked nice, but the opening is very powerful and it ruined her view of the game, so here I am reviewing it instead.
Ken Follett’s The Pillars of the Earth Book 1 is the first part of a trilogy that Daedalic Entertainment has taken on – a 1,000 page novel turned to video game. A daunting task for sure, especially when you realize that story takes place in the 12th century and is focused on the creation of a cathedral. Something that dense with dialogue can undoubtedly not only be difficult to create, but doing so while being entertaining the whole way through may seem near impossible. As you may expect, there are some slow areas, and the lack of direction which is akin to older adventure games can make these parts drag on a bit. But in the end, it works surprisingly well.
When first seeing footage from the game, I anticipated this to be a visual novel more than a game. Knowing the size of the source material, I had no idea that they’d not only make it something of an adventure game that they are known for at this point, but make it in such an expansive world. Yes, the game is linear in its story, as well as its overall direction (the choices you make don’t create too big of a difference in the end – at least in this entry), but it does a fantastic job of doing so in such expansive environments that are living due to the art. There are more than just a few “rooms” to explore in each one, and you’ll be revisiting them a lot as you attempt to progress the story.
The art direction is a departure from the recent Silence, and not quite like their popular Deponia series, although it’s much more similar. The characters are drawn against hand-painted backgrounds, although the frames look like they’re on 4s or higher. Not a bad thing by any means, but people used to tweens will think the characters are wooden or poorly animated, when in fact it’s just not as many frames being used. For the record, Miyazaki Hayao animates on 4s, so it’s by no means something to be sneered at.
Voice acting can struggle at times, although for the most part it’s very solid. The characters are given much more depth with the voiced dialogue, compared to being silent. Games like JRPGs I prefer no voices (thank you for the choice I Am Setsuna), but the actors in this bring a sense of weight necessary to the grim tale.
In addition to dialogue wheels that you’ll be navigating as you have conversations with both side NPCs and main story characters, you’ll also be handling items. These will help with progressing the story, be it an event you are supposed to take part in, or a way to open up a new dialogue tree with someone. Almost in the way you do with the recent Sherlock Holmes games, you will also take acquired information and use that as a sort of item to progress the story and learn more from various NPCs.
Over the course of this entry, you’ll take control of three different characters, which may seem separate at first, but with the arc of the story pertaining to the creation of a cathedral, it’s clear their paths will (and do) cross. Speaking of the cathedral, one of the scenes near the beginning of the game involves imagining what it will look like as you discuss it with your daughter. Each time you select what will be done next, the game changes the cathedral’s rendering – it’s a really beautiful scene, and much like how descriptors will paint a picture in your head while reading. It’s not often you see this type of world building, and it was really powerful.
The adaptation is a dark adventure, and at times can be slow to play through – of course there are some light-hearted moments as well, which are much needed. With such an expansive narrative to convey, it’d be hard to get all the plot points across without having some downtime. And while “action” throughout seems like it’d be ideal in any story, the downtime is what allows you to appreciate the better parts. There were a couple of glitches visually that detracted from the experience, and some load times that didn’t seem necessary considering the rest of the game, but overall it’s a great start to what will likely be a great series. With two more entries on the way, likely matching the length of this one, you can expect around a 20 hour experience when it’s all said and done.… Expand