There are moments in gaming, some hit you right away with amazing graphics or something incredible, others create a feeling that grows and grows the more you play and you slowly find yourself enthralled within the world. These are the games you remember as something special for different reasons.
Pillars of Eternity is one of those titles that manages to do both at once. Right away you will be stunned at the incredible art style that is just beautifully created. Then as you dive into the character creation screen with so many options and choices you could get lost in there a few hours… which certainly happened to me. And then you have the engaging, addictive storyline and adventure which all sucks you right into the world and you’ll find the game very difficult to step away from, even when you realise it’s 4am and the birds are starting to sing!
I feel conflicted in writing this article right now because I am personally not a fan of reviews in progress but at the same time the game is so impressive to play that I wanted to run something today but it would be unfair to rush a final score on a game that is so rich based on the time spent so far. For the final score on this, most likely done over the weekend, feel free to bookmark this page and the final review will be here with additional updates but so far in the game is something special and the original Kickstarter backers will be very satisfied indeed.
From the outset you are presented a world that represents the classic RPG experience you would expect of a Gate game back in the 90s but with that modern twist, smooth running frame-rate and a solid graphical engine that maintains the graphical style of the game. The isometric look may seem old school but the animations and graphic style reveal a depth beyond the standard 2D presentation it would seem at a glance. Everything here is done to extreme detail.
As you start your character is no one really special and is a little ill and sent out to find some plants to cure you, here you get to grips with the RTS style control mechanics that work very responsively and really take you back to that classic experience of RPG gaming on PC. Soon you are forced into combat with a simple system that gradually includes more and more options which is straight forward to control initially but takes some strategic thinking to master as you play more difficult sections, especially on the numerous high difficulty settings.
Now, one thing gamers may or may not like about the game, thinking of people with more modern expectations here is the way the story is told. There is voice acting and plenty of it but the significant amount of the plot is written and there is a lot of text to read, some of which is interactive and really works well with the artwork used to convey what is happening while the game loads in the background. Personally I loved these scenes but this is something that may not be for everyone.
The plot itself sees the main character become a Watcher using souls to see their past and that of the world, this leads on to more depth that I will not spoil however there is a lot of intertwining paths between Watchers and the land of Dyrwood and of course the fact people are being born with no soul due to a strange curse called Waidwen’s Legacy.
When you consider the richness of the tale and the impact character creation has on how people react based on you chosen race and class plus even the background you choose for your character affects your reputation. The amount of conversational choices that see you either confronting situations and getting into massive brawls or using charm techniques to void such combat and even get people to support you really does give you a massive scope for not just a long play-though but also an completely different gaming experience when decide to play through again.
My only issue with the game so far is the combat. It would be extremely harsh here to say it lets the game down because it doesn’t, but it’s certainly not a special as the rest of the experience so far. The strategic way in which you slow down time to deploy people it attack in a more strategic way really makes all the difference between life and death when confronted by tough groups of enemies and there are a huge variety if enemies that require you to change tactics and keeps you on your toes.
Maybe I need some more time with the game and might also be being harsh here, it’s just that the rest of the game feels so special and this is a little less so, which is making it stand out right now for me.
Leveling and companions however are awesome and there is so much richness to the entire experience so far I can’t wait to play again! And I shall, check in again here over the weekend for a further update and the final score from us at My Games Lounge but if you want my advice as it stands:
If you were even thinking about getting this in the back of your mind with all those strange and weird thoughts we don’t tell anyone about (like how cool it would be to be Spiderman for a day etc), quite simply: get this game NOW! You will not regret it.