Pillars of Eternity
|Platforms:||Mac OS, PC|
Financing game development via crowdfunding became extraordinarily successful lately. Having opportunity to financially support favourite project and find out more about it and it's developers is building up the community even before project's release. There has also been a boom regarding many new websites focused on crowdfunding services.
One of the most famous is Kickstarter, who's all-round community has given a green light to many project around motion pictures, music and development of video games. In 2012 guys from Obsidian Entertainment has used Kickstarter to start Project Eternity, which promised a return of video games based on Infinity game engine. Campaign was incredibly successful with more than 73 thousand people contributing and reaching almost 4 million dollars in initial budget, while required amount to launch the project was only one million.
Story takes place in an independet country of Dyrwood located in a huge Eora continent. It's a world where power and magic is based on your souls quality. It's a place where souls of the deceased travel to newly born beings. You are arriving to Dyrwood with other members of merchant's caravan in searching for a new life. You build a camp to stay over night near some ancient ruins. Soon you are ambushed by members of local tribes and your only choice is to retreat towards the mysterious buildings. Inside you witness an unknown ritual which causes you to fall unconscious. After you wake up you realize you are now the only survivor. And something else has changed. Something deep inside you. Now you have to find out what was this all about and what exactly happened to you.
Every good RPG starts with character creation. There are plenty of options in Pillars of Eternity, resembling good old Baldur's Gate system. Six basic races are divided into several sub-races. Race affects your attributes, passive abilities and how you are perceived by other people. You can then choose between eleven classes, each one of them with unique fighting style. Then you allocate attribute points with some restrictions based on your class. Your attributes stays with you for the rest of the game so choose wisely. Ultimately you choose culture you came from which slightly affects one of your attributes and have an defines your starting equipment. This last choice also determines your background options which in return allows you to improve one of your skills and offers some special dialogue paths. All this adds up to real nice role-playing possibilities.
World is divided into smaller "screens" and areas with fixed size. You can traverse between areas how you please but time it takes you to get there is always determined by your starting points. Travelling is important concept in Pillars of Eternity, because it applies day-night cycle and many quests and other events in the game play out differently based on whether you arrive at target location at night or during the day or at a certain hour. Sometimes even weather can affect the outcome of what is to come.
How fast the game time flows will interest you when you become the stronghold owner. Individual sections of your stronghold, which can be repaired to provide various bonuses, needs not only money but also time to become fully operational. So before a new shop is build or a better protection set up, you will have to wait a few days.
Combat system presents you with real time tactical combat with a possibility of pausing the time. In some situations its a necessity. Many of the combat features are similar to those used in Baldur's Gate and Icewind Dale series, so for those you know them, you won't have a much problem getting used to it. Luckily it's not just about copying approach of an old RPG games, but there are also many new things you will enjoy. For example Engagement - when you approach an enemy in close combat, you can't simply walk away from him, because you are in direct encounter. If you try to run, enemy can hit you with a free attack because basically you are showing him his back. Of course this works both ways and lets you think of some interesting tactical options.
Now the more grim parts. When game was released, there were so many bugs it was practically impossible to finish. Even though Obsdian Entertainment had been able to improve this awful situation rather quickly, it basically confirmed their bad reputation regarding technical condition of their products. Another negative is surprisingly sometimes excessively amount of texts you have to read, especially during dialogues. Lot of talking feels kinda irrelevant and is often not truly enjoyable. Also when trying to get more info on local history, you will end up confused rather than enlightened, due to chaotic style of how the books and other sources are written.
Anyway, first journey into this unorthodox budhist like world has gone really well and is has been quite interesting and even unique in some ways. If you are a fan of old Infinity engine games, you will probably feel lot of nostalgia. Baldurs' Gate, Planescape: Tornment, Icewind Dale, from all of these games Pillars of Eternity took the best RPG elements and connected them together into one game. You can bet that you've never visited a world like this before.