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When it comes to large games put out by relatively small companies there is a tendency to be a little overly critical over some imperfections. A lot of those games tend to be priced a little less to accommodate for those issues that are, frankly, unavoidable with a small team. Sometimes that is not the case, however.
Many times gamers have had a long wait for a game that ultimately didn't live up to the hype. Just ask any Duke Nukem fans (there must still be a few). KC:D falls a little bit prey to the same issue. There was such excitement among those who had been following the development, myself included, mainly for the more hardcore gameplay elements. Sure, games have had hunger mechanics and a similar direction-based combat system before but to have them combined felt like a great idea.
The combat system handles pretty well in most situations. Most of those being one-on-one encounters. The problem arises as the number of combatants increases. You could understand it being a lot more difficult taking on two or three foes rather than just the one. Hell, just one person could potentially take you down, or at least give you enough hassle to cause significant difficulty with the next guy. All that is forgivable, even the whole point of that particular combat system.
Where the issue arises that stings slightly more is where you could lose a major fight due to the game struggling to keep up and the frame rate is dropping. This is in a game where milliseconds can be crucial when it comes to blocking an attack. Simply occasionally causing slight timing issues may not be too bad, no game is perfect after all, but after a particularly grueling battle, the game could quite happily decide to crash, leaving all that hard work (and believe me a large battle is a long time to not breathe) feeling almost completely pointless.
I say almost because, for all its technical faults, the game can be genuinely just difficult, almost realistically so. One of my greatest achievements thus far has been finally managing to hit a guy with an arrow. For a game that seems intent on screwing you over, it gives you hell of a lot of joy when you actually manage to do something right. Archery stands out in particular as being particularly difficult but that is mainly helped by games like Elder Scrolls allowing you a crosshair and zoom function. Whilst KC:D now allows you to turn on crosshairs, the default remains that they are off and frankly I would say this is the best way to play the game, if only for that sense of achievement when it eventually goes right.
The way the game handles the setting is, to be fair, well thought out. There has been a bit of talk of some inaccuracies but again, we aren't really talking about a massive company that can throw large amounts of cash into researching every facet of medieval life. What they have tried to address comes across well. Reading being a skill to learn is a particularly fascinating part of the game as trying to read something that you shouldn't be able to as a simple blacksmith's son results in you the player simply seeing a jumble of letters. You may be able to make some sense of them but at the really early stages, it's incredibly unlikely. Herbalism and alchemy being classed separately also made a good difference from your average RPG. Sure, you could buy your ingredients for alchemy and raise those skills completely separately, but why spend the cash when you could just stop for a second on your way to the next town and pick up some poppy or dandelion? At later levels, all those squats from picking herbs actually can increase your strength, although to be honest I thought that could have been a factor without actually having to level up a specific skill. After all, it's not as if in real life squats don't only work after you get good enough at a completely different skill.
Now the story is your basic revenge sort of thing. Nothing to be particularly swept away by. I guess the main point is that they needed some sort of event to drive the character to get involved in all the political nonsense that was happening at the time. It's hardly the laziest script of all time but is unlikely to win any Oscars. Its world and lore (can it be considered lore in a supposedly historical game?) are pretty well fleshed out so it can hide certain gaps in the story.
It just seems through and through like a game that is meant to draw you in on gameplay alone, which can work extremely well, provided everything works properly. Although this is by all means not a bad game, I would certainly find it hard to place it with indie gems like Limbo, Terraria and of course, what reeks of being where the idea came from, Mount and Blade.
In short, it has a lot of issues, some of them can get to game-breaking but on the whole, it is a charmingly brutal game that was maybe a little too ambitious. Only time will tell if it has the potential to be great with some great work going into it post-release. For now, however, maybe get it for a bargain. I wouldn't recommend the £45 price tag for what is effectively still a work in progress (despite not having the guts to be considered an "early access" title).
Will keep this updated as new work is done on the game.