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Since we last checked, several new reviews for Owlcat Games' barony management cRPG Pathfinder: Kingmaker have gone up. Most of them aren't exactly brimming with positivity and instead mention the game's numerous bugs. But if you still remember Troika Games and their lasting impact on the RPG scene, these middling scores should be the only encouragement you need to bump Kingmaker to the top of your "play when patched" list. Have a look:
Rock, Paper, Shotgun Scoreless:
I’ve dealt with this kind of DM before. It’s the kind of person who spent so much time creating their perfect fantasy world, drawing maps and crunching numbers, they forgot what makes a role-playing game fun: the drama between the party members, the uneffective solutions, the silly shenanigans. At least, that’s what makes D&D fun for me.
I know there are people who love this kind of DM. They will admire the focus on battles and numbers, the variety in characters and builds, the merciless attention to detail. For players who grew up loving games like Baldur’s Gate and Neverwinter Nights, Pathfinder: Kingmaker might feel like sitting around a table with old friends. But I can’t stand DMs who prioritize the rules over the joy of telling a story.
The interaction between the ruling bit of play and the rest of it is great. Having each of these systems--roleplaying, combat, adventuring, and what's essentially SimCity-lite--feed into and influence one another yields an experience that is as broad as it is deep. Your level of investment and engagement with each is largely up to you, but each of them matters and will require attentiveness to get the best results. But the opportunities it yields are exceptional. Having your roleplaying choices and character story and alignment all play into how you rule and who accompanies you on your trek is amazing. Working towards getting a well-crafted set of gear for your party after carefully maneuvering through hours of quests and adventures, all for the glory of besting a big bad using all the skills and abilities you've given your team, are high points of the adventure.
All-told, Kingmaker isn't a stellar outing, hampered by a litany of small issues, balancing, and the gargantuan knowledge base you'll need to play most effectively. But, for those with the patience, the rewards are well worth the investment.
RPG Site 6/10:
I do want to make one thing clear - I enjoyed what I played of Kingmaker so much that losing a companion to a bugged status effect and many numerous resets of several hours of progress to circumvent poorly balanced kingdom mechanics wasn't enough to get me to shelve the game. Interesting companions, a unique framework, and a strong story were all enough to force me to keep going, to hope that I could somehow navigate the bugs, ignore the failed questlines I wanted to finish, and persevere through wonky balancing in an attempt to reach the game's conclusion, only to be stonewalled on the last lap. In 6 months or so, once the many numerous issues are dealt with both on a performance front as well as balance, this game could be amazing. But right now it's not, and sadly, it's not close.
Trusted Reviews 3/5:
By committing to the systems it draws its name from, Kingmaker creates a deeply comprehensive and satisfying CRPG that is also incredibly lonely and masochistic when it wants to be.
If you fancy playing a painstakingly crafted virtual game of Dungeons & Dragons with HAL 9000 as your GM (and don’t get me wrong there are many of you out there), then this game is for you.
If not, you may enjoy the great voice acting and novel Barony system, but you should stick to more palatable CRPG’s that don’t assume so much knowledge and offer more than a modicum of respect for your free time.
Pathfinder: Kingmaker is definitely one of the most faithful recreations of the D&D experience in digital form and those with patience, a love of numbers and a willingness to tolerate a bit of opacity and imbalance have much to look forward to. There’s something a bit overwhelming and unfriendly about the game’s mechanics and while Pathfinder’s faithful translation of D&D and city building elements are unique, a lot of the setting, story and characters are a bit too “standard CRPG.” There is room for improvement and growth through patches and content, and it will be interesting to watch Pathfinder: Kingmaker evolve.