If you're like me at all, you enjoy a good RPG style video game with great story, compelling characters, and dynamic graphics. When I first saw Pathfinder: Kingmaker for sale on the PS4 store, I decided to give it a try and see if it gave me the same warm fuzzies I get when I play Pathfinder or D&D around the table with friends. Let's dive in so I can let you know how it went.
First, I'm going to start with the good. When I popped it in, to be honest I thought I was going to be extremely underwhelmed. As far as game worlds go, I'm not crazy familiar with Pathfinder 1E, which the game is based on. However, having played Pathfinder 2E a bit as well as every iteration of D&D, and other computer or console games in the same style as Kingmaker - I felt I was prepared enough. To be sure, most of the same tropes are still present, but the game surprised me with a lot of things.
The characters are all well-rounded and highly customizable. You can create any character you wish as your main character, and then on top of that you've also got the rest of your party that you can have level up with the assistance of AI or you can do it yourself. You can multiclass, choose your spells and feats, and even learn or improve skills.
The voice acting is great and there are so many conversations as your characters are camping or walking around and I've still not heard any repetition. There's always some sort of banter between characters, and it really makes you feel like the characters are more tangible and real.
The story is pretty fun. You begin seeking to become a baron for some lands that have been taken over by your first villain, The Stag Lord. As you level up and claim more territory, various politics and difficult choices lay ahead.
They jam-packed rules and mechanics for almost everything into the game. You can build and name your own cities and towns, there are mechanics for making food and camping correctly by placing your party into their strong areas, you can explore the map and switch out characters and change formation of the party, and best of all there are lots of ambiguous choices that affect the game world.
The graphics and music are pretty decent. While they're certainly not the best, the developers added lots of cool details like being able to see any weapon or armor you equip on your characters.
You can switch between Turn Based gameplay in the style of traditional RPG games, or you can use Real Time Combat.
Now onto the bad. There wasn't a ton of bad things to be found in Kingmaker, but there were a couple glaring problems or difficult aspects to master.
The Controls are terrible. To be fair, this game was developed first for PC, so using a controller feels very counter-intuitive and I can't tell you how many times I screwed up a battle by hitting the wrong button or the cursor suddenly appearing on screen and moving my characters to their deaths. However, it's not as bad once you get used to it.
The difficulty just starting out is pretty high. There are some enemies you're not supposed to fight until you're high level which dominate the map early on. There are also enemies that you literally find it almost impossible to kill due to bad design flaws, like spider swarms that can't be hit by anything except acid, or fire and even then only dealing like 1 damage per turn.
The loading times are crazy long on console. I imagine they aren't nearly as long as on PC but I have no idea.
You have to save CONSTANTLY due to the contents on the map not being level-centric, meaning you can't count on being able to survive even a surprise attack in an open area that you've already cleared. So if you don't save, you'll lose a lot of progress.
Some areas in the game are insanely laggy when there are a lot of NPCs on screen, and there are a lot of glitches during gameplay.
Overall, I'd personally give this game a 7.5. It's very enjoyable and I've been playing a lot of it. Unfortunately, the myriad of issues and bugs it contains brings down its score a little bit, but if you're a fan of Pathfinder, D&D, RPGs, TTRPGs, and you happen to enjoy playing video games, do yourself a favor and check it out. Make sure to let us know in the comments if you liked or disliked the game and why, and also if there's anything else we should know about the game you maybe think I forgot and didn't touch on it. - Joe