Pillars of Eternity Themes and Beginning Editorials

We're going to do another review round-up for Pillars of Eternity shortly, but in the meantime I thought I'd highlight a couple of editorials that have been published recently.

The first is a write-up from Rock, Paper, Shotgun's John Walker, who already penned the review of the game for the website and expands his thoughts on the game's handling of science and faith. Here's an excerpt:

Animancy's stepping into the territory of (playing god) earns direct correlation with all manner of media-led scares regarding scientific advancement. Science has had a miserable couple of decades in its attempts to usefully communicate with the public, from the disastrous misunderstanding of genetic modification that has led to terrible dents in progress when it comes to better feeding two-thirds of the world, to the monstrous misinformation spread about vaccination that has led to losses in herd immunity and horrible numbers of utterly avoidable deaths. People walk about with images of ears grafted onto the backs of mice, and beliefs that at any moment parents will be selecting their unborn child's tastes in wine, and no depth of understanding of what progress is being made.

Drywood's inhabitants know about the disastrous attempts to put animal souls into the body's of Hollowborn children, but nothing of the calm, methodical research into how it is that souls enter new lives, how they move on, and in one particular case, how they stay attached to a life for the time they do. As you experience Animancy within the game, you see both sides. I think Pillars trips up rather badly, here, as it happens. Animancy is far better argued for by individuals practising it, than it's visually presented to the player. What could have been far more nuanced is made very clumsy by the presence of a ghastly, medieval dungeon in which the mentally ill are experimented upon by cruel lunatics. There's a cack-handed attempt to suggest that some denizens of the institute aren't aware of the experiments going on downstairs, but since any of them could pop down and look at any time (with the exception of one statue, it's fair to point out), it doesn't feel realistic that they're blissfully ignorant in their libraries above.

Since the game asks you to think about the ethics of Animancy, and indeed to make significant decisions regarding it, I do wish the reality of what you see could have better matched the often excellent arguments being made by its practitioners. There are equally excellent arguments being made against, and they don't rely on the existence of torture chambers. I chose to make my decisions based on the intellectual offering, which made it far more morally intriguing to think through.

Meanwhile, Eurogamer has published a video that (mostly) praises the way the beginning of the game attempts to teach players how their choices might have real consequences, though there's a note of disappointment based on the end of the tutorial: