September 16, 2021

Xbox One X

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Kingdom Come: Deliverance review – history is a double-edged sword

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Kingdom Come: Deliverance and the history it explores are inseparable. There hasn’t been a medieval world this real and substantial since The Witcher 3. The sense of time and place it conjures is astonishing. You feel your feet squelching in muddy, rutted paths, and smell the manure on the fields around you. But what you see isn’t a fantasy world reinforced by a culture’s past: it is a culture’s past – its bones are made out of it. Kingdom Come is the most believable adventure into medieval history I’ve ever experienced.

That’s the hook: realism. This is the dungeons-and-no-dragons role-playing game sprung from Kickstarter into a full-sized multiplatform release. The RPG offering a first-person medieval simulation like an Elder Scrolls game, with a world living around you, but without the fantasy, magic and monsters. Instead, it’s developer Warhorse’s own Czech history brought to life from the year of 1403, and the detail with which it has been recreated is staggering.

Kingdom Come hasn’t tried to condense a whole world into a game, but instead focused in on a 16 square kilometre area of rural Bohemia, and the dozen or so small villages and towns found there at the time. Nothing feels made up. Everything is placed with the certainty of historical reality behind it; shops are where they are because it made sense at the time – bakers here, weaponsmiths and blacksmiths there. Inns emerge naturally as the town’s beating heart – the first port of call for a traveller who can buy lodgings for a week at a time, as I suppose you once would. Everywhere there are windows like this into the past.

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