Pathfinder: Wrath of the Righteous Review

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Eschalon: Book II

Release Date:2021-09-02
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That's not exactly the case here. It won't take long for you to start wondering where all the Lionheart and Sturm Brightblade types are hiding. What with the game's theme and Golarion being an everything goes setting, you'd think Owlcat's writers would be fighting over the privilege of writing a Holger Carlsen-type character. You know, the original Paladin. Instead, we get some weird "subversion" of Neverwinter Nights' Lady Aribeth with a couple of vowels swapped around, and a discount Fall-from-Grace.

The game's other prominent Paladin character, the one you can recruit, is an ex-thief who can't remember her vows and mostly just likes getting drunk all the time. And her personal story is played as some joke where through a series of misunderstandings and personal drama you manage to foil a demonic plot.

But at least you can eventually show her the way of a true Paladin. Unfortunately, most of the game's characters are like that, but without the redemption part.

I understand that this is the fifth crusade in a hundred years, and at this point, they're hiring anyone willing to fight, but is it so much to ask just for one modern RPG to at least try and play things straight?

At the same time, the game seems to be aware of how ridiculous some of it gets, and the rare grounded characters are quick to point out the sheer incompetence of everyone around them.

And when you run into a bunch of cultists and overhear them "corrupting" some crusaders with a speech seemingly lifted straight from the playbook of 12-year-olds offering smokes to their peers, and these guys are currently winning, it's hard not to agree with that sentiment.

The weird thing is, I actually liked most of the game's companions. They experience some nice character growth during their stories, and it helps that most of them are pretty good at fighting demons straight out of the box, no multiclassing required.

It's just that, this cast of wacky miscreants doesn't really fit a crusading outfit and would better work in some quaint countryside adventure. Exploring a rich man's mansion on a quest revolving around family secrets and illegitimate children is fun, but it becomes less so when you remember that right at that very moment, a horde of demons is rampaging through the streets, killing everyone on sight.

Basically, if you want to enjoy the game's story content, you have to build a mental wall separating the main storyline from all the side stuff.

The former is reminiscent of Baldur's Gate II in that it takes you to a lot of distinct places and keeps things fresh between its chapters. You start as a nobody but become a crusader, then a leader. You get dragged into a mess of cosmic proportions stemming from the actions of ancient mages. At one point you even venture into the heart of the demonic realm.

But alongside all of this, instead of solemn, thought-provoking ideas, you get wacky hijinks, weird sci-fi dungeons, and drunken orgies. But at least, in all that zaniness, the game actually acknowledges that Tieflings as a race exist purely for the "thiefling" pun, and I have to give it all the credit for that.

Also, and I can't believe I even have to mention this, the game is weirdly horny. Early on, it feels like you can't go five minutes without someone propositioning you. Many of the game's quests revolve around relationships in some way. And when you go to the Abyss, the bulk of the demons you interact with there are scantily clad succubuses. It's basically a teenager's idea of what a mature game should be, and I can't say I enjoyed those parts very much.

All in all, when it comes to the narrative side, your character's unique Mythic journey is the main draw here. The whole Worldwound thing then is merely there to provide some framing for it, and the side content, occasional moments of brilliance aside, barely even bears mentioning.

Moving on to the actual moment-to-moment stuff, I should note that the game's writing doesn't feel translated. Once in a blue moon, you get some typo or a weird-sounding sentence, but for the most part, it all feels natural. At the same time, the game is guilty of overindulging in exposition and frequently shoveling three paragraphs of text onto you where two sentences would do just fine.

The game also has this very annoying tendency of disregarding your choices during dialogues. Many a time you would choose the option to attack someone, only for the game to say, "Nope," and have that character turn invisible, invulnerable, and run away. At some point, the game even lampshades this fact, only to then keep doing it.