A definite recommendation for RPG buffs

Chris Hayes - Game Review

Published 14/04/2015 | 00:00

Pillars of Eternity is a perfect homage to the RPG experiences of old.
Pillars of Eternity is a perfect homage to the RPG experiences of old.

Kickstarter projects have their high and low points - take Peter Molyneux's Godus. Promised to be the 'spiritual successor to Molyneux's earlier creation, Populous', Godus instead took all of the Kickstarter funding and turned the promised title into a glorified fremium handheld game. On the other end of the Kickstarter spectrum - a far cry from the questionable activities that surround the Godus saga - you will find Pillars of Eternity, a delightful new isometric RPG in the mould of old-school titles like Baldur's Gate and Planescape: Torment.

I am going to go out on a limb and say that I positively love the fantasy story and world presented in Pillars of Eternity. The rich high-fantasy storyline runs for an impressive 70-odd hours and the challenging old-school tactical combat makes you work for every hour that passes.

The games that spawned Pillars of Eternity were wordy, but Obsidian takes narrative density to new heights, dumping heaps of lore onto the table and overwhelming its personal stories with long histories of war replete with fictional words like "Fonestu" and "ferconyg." The writing is lovely: "How canst I, so lowly and worn, speak words of proper adulation?" is one of the many memorable highlights from the highly embellished and achingly beautiful dialogue.

A number of complicated game systems weave their way in and out of this god-filled world. You align yourself with the game's various factions when navigating choice-filled quests, for instance, irritating bloodthirsty druids when you don't take kindly to their sacrificial ways, or supporting a type of soul magic called animancy in spite of the sanitarium's questionable research methods.

All of this choice-based questing business and the sheer depth of dialogue present might lead you to the incorrect assumption that Pillars of Eternity is all talk, but fear not. Combat is as deep, difficult and tactical as the storyline is broad. Combat, which draws heavily from the Baldur's Gate tradition, is the same kind of pausable real-time squad battle that BioWare made famous, but don't expect a Dragon Age-type experience where you can get away with effectively ignoring tactics. Neglect the pause button here, even for seconds, and you die - even on easy difficulty.

Pillars of Eternity is a perfect homage to the RPG experiences of old. But its merits do not end as a tribute. The sheer quality and depth of its writing means that Pillars of Eternity stands alone in its ability to tell a cohesive and engaging story. A definite recommendation for RPG buffs out there.

9/10

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