Kingdom Come: Deliverance

I stumbled upon a list about a month ago of medieval video games that don’t have magic. It’s an interesting concept for a listicle, because typically we associate the medieval period with high-fantasy, sword-and-sorcery stuff — at least in the video game world. It’s kind of nice to see that there are plenty of folks out there who are willing to get lost in the more mundane aspects of medieval life and opt for a more realistic portrayal of that time period.

And while I did play one game on the list — Chivalry II, which is honestly great — there’s apparently an entire genre of games that have mostly passed me by. I’m interested in checking out Mount & Blade II: Bannerlord, but I’m a little short on cash these days and I’m not sure I want to drop $40 on it quite yet.

And then I saw that Kingdom Come: Deliverance was on sale for $7.49 in the Microsoft Store. Further, I realized I had a $5 credit in my Microsoft account. I have no idea why — perhaps it was because I accidentally bought three Minecraft servers and was partially refunded for that blunder, or maybe it’s a rebate for having recently renewed my Microsoft Office bundle. Either way, once you add in taxes, I ended up spending something like $3.08 on Kingdom Come: Deliverance.

Kingdom Come: Deliverance

I watched a few YouTube videos about the game before I fired it up, so I didn’t go in blind, but I admit that I was expecting something completely different. I’ve seen some of the goofy videos of Kingdome Come: Deliverance glitches, and I was girding my loins for an experience that was half-baked at best. I only paid $3 for this thing, remember, so I didn’t mind something that was completely broken, so long as it allowed me to wander around in a medieval village for 20 minutes or so.

But what I ended up finding was something much better than that. Kingdom Come: Deliverance is actually incredible.

You start out as a peasant named Henry, the son of a small-town blacksmith. While you get the impression that Daddy Dearest has some dark secrets, he’s not super willing to talk about those. Instead, you just amble around clumsily, attempting to help the guy forge a sword.

And really, Henry is completely worthless. When you start the game, you have no skills at anything — you can’t even read — and no money. The first quest asks you to collect a debt from someone your father sold some tools to. When you show up at the guy’s doorstep, he says he doesn’t have the money, so you decide to take matters into your own hands. If you can punch the guy into submission, he’ll eventually just let you take the tools back. He won’t give them to you; you need to actually go find them yourself, which means you’ll be rummaging around this guy’s belongings for 20 minutes to figure out where he hid that doggone hammer.

Kingdom Come: Deliverance

Once you find the tools, you can pawn them off for some coin, then move on to your next errand, which is to fetch some coal. The thing is, even if you sell all of the things you recovered from the tools guy, you won’t have enough money. So you have to get creative. I snuck into a house and stole some carrots, then I sold those to a sketchy lady on the edge of town. I then took that pitiful amount of money to the local dice-player and discovered I’m actually kind of good at playing dice. So I gambled and gambled and gambled, and after like an hour, I had enough money to buy the coal I needed.

All of that was so much work, but when I turned in the quest it was immensely satisfying. Yeah, the game stacked everything against me, but I managed to complete the task regardless. This is how the entire game is going to be — you will never have quite enough money, or quite enough skill, to complete the tasks you’ve been given. So you’ll have to figure out some elaborate sequence of events that maybe — just maybe — will get you the stuff you need. And then you’ll probably fail at it anyway, because Henry is just kind of worthless.

Kingdom Come: Deliverance

But the world here is so well-realized, and the characters are so compelling, that I don’t really mind. In fact, playing a medieval game where you don’t start out as some infallible musclebound hero is actually kind of refreshing, and it allows you to sink into the mud of this 15th Century world and just roll around in it for a while, vicariously living out the life of a medieval peasant.

Kingdom Come: Deliverance is at its absolute best when it just allows you to roam around the countryside and marvel at this re-creation of Bohemia (now the Czech Republic). It’s kind of like playing The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim if you took away all of the magic and dragons and mythical races, then just played as one of the shopkeeper NPCs instead of the Dragonborn.

I’m currently only about five hours deep, but I’m already starving for more. Kingdom Come: Deliverance has really grabbed me, and I don’t see it loosening its grip for quite some time yet. In fact, this might be the best $3 I’ve ever spent on a video game in my entire life.

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