Pathfinder: Kingmaker – An Introduction
Pathfinder: Kingmaker is, simply put, a top-down classic style role-playing game, in the same style as the classic Neverwinter Nights and Baldur’s Gate games. It’s based in the Pathfinder world of Golarion. It’s also the first game of this type set in this world.
You’re invited on a dangerous quest to reclaim “The Stolen Lands”, a hotly contested land, filled with outlaws and dangerous monsters, from the Stag Lord, an evil man that was driven to oppress the peoples of the land.
Over the 12 hours of gameplay I put in, I managed to get a good feel for the game. It manages to capture that traditional tabletop RPG experience of playing Pathfinder or Dungeons & Dragons. Like Neverwinter before it, it uses a modified 3.5 edition ruleset as Pathfinder is essentially D&D 3.5 at its core (for many that could be a good or bad thing). The game, however, sticks to R.A.W (rules as written). The encounters and constant camping on the world map are tedious, though not exactly a deal breaker. Having to stop every five minutes, because your team is fatigued, doesn’t help the enjoyment of the game.
This isn’t helped when the game tries to sneakily railroad you with arbitrary barriers and requirements, before your allowed to proceed. Outside dialogue, the character, and city customization; any freedom of choice you may have is somewhat limited to what order you play the quests in, and whether or not to do side quests.
It should also be noted that when I created the first character, I experienced a bug (it might be fixed as the game has updated since I wrote this), where it wouldn’t let me go backward and undo choices, so be careful when you press that next button.
The Great Game
Eventually, you get to rule over the stolen lands, if your successful in your task. This is where the game shows off the one thing that sets it apart from other CRPGs, and that is city building. Where you can rule as a Tyrant, a Benevolent Lord, or Lady. Your main goal making sure your kingdom is happy, survives, and expands. This includes political intrigue, wars, and diplomacy.
+ Adheres close to the source material
+ Interesting ruling system
+ Optimised graphics and smooth gameplay
+ Interesting world building
– Attempts to hide linear gameplay over a mask of choice
– Tedious world map travel
– Encounters get repetitive after a while
– The quest tracker doesn’t actually show you where to go on the map for quests
While I enjoyed playing Pathfinder: Kingmaker and will continue doing so, as a fan of CRPGs, there are just some elements that hold it back from being one of my favourites. If you enjoy this type of game, or are a fan of Pathfinder, then I would buy it. For others, this is a rather niche game, and I would hold off until a sale, or watch a let’s play before buying.
Disclosure: I purchased the game with my own money through humblebundle.com.