Pillars of Eternity

User Rating: 8 | Pillars of Eternity PC

PoE is an old school CRPG made for people who like long, engaging storylines and making decisions that can totally impact the outcome of the game.

As a caveat, I have never played Baldur's Gate or Neverwinter Nights or Planescape:Torment, so this is my first game of this type. There are criticisms I have that may be just part of the CRPG experience in every game and not just PoE in general.

The plot of the game is what you make of it. It's an entertaining story that I wanted to see through to the end. But the fun of PoE is that you get to be whoever you want and your decisions completely change the outcome of the game. You could play this game several times through and have a different experience each and every time. The game even takes this a step further, getting rid of experience points through combat to reward players who want to sneak past every encounter or talk their way out of encounters without creating a negative incentive to do so by being under-leveled with that style of play. Instead, the game grants experience points by completing quests in any form, including just talking to an NPC and completing the quest rather than fighting 15 people to get the same result. I like this concept quite a bit, and think more games should follow suit.

Every mission has several options on how to complete it, and the sidequests in the game are all interesting and worth diving into. You have several companions with you, and they also have entire quests you can undertake that take you all over the map. These quests are just as rewarding as the main storyline, and your choices here also clearly matter. There was one companion I didn't like and so I ignored his quest, and he ended up killing himself in the ending credits of my game. I imagine if I had not been such a dick, he probably would have a very different ending, and I thought that was a cool way of the game encouraging me to play through all the sidequests.

There are no cutscenes in this game, and the entire game is top-down view. I actually ended up really enjoying that instead of cutscenes, there were extremely detailed paragraphs about what was happening in the game, and you had to imagine what was happening. The vivid details provided made it easy to imagine what was happening and this ended up being one of my favorite parts of the game.

However, the game has its flaws. The combat in particular was not my favorite. It's a real-time-with-pause style combat, but the characters sometimes completely ignore you and run off and do whatever they want anyway. There were also numerous times where my characters would just get stuck and stand and do nothing no matter what I did. This would be less troublesome if the game wasn't already fairly difficult. A character not obeying a command can and will get you killed almost immediately in this game. The pause combat honestly just made the game feel slow; you literally have to pause every 2 seconds to give commands, it seems like at that point you might as well just make it turn based. The developers did add an AI system (*sort of* like FFXII), but the AI system is so incredibly basic (think "aggressive," "defensive," "defend self") that it wasn't helpful at all. If they had made the ability to perform certain moves under certain circumstances or had any variety whatsoever, this AI system could have saved the combat system. And considering a good chunk of this game is dungeon crawling and fighting enemies, having a combat system like this really puts a damper on the game in my opinion.

There are bugs in this game, but none of them ever broke my game entirely or made me re-load. The game lets you save from anywhere, so you don't have to replay vast swaths of the game if you die, which I always appreciate in a game. The game has 2 large expansions which I did not play, but the main game itself still took me almost 30 hours to complete, which I think is a good length for a game of this type. It's long enough to feel like you are in an epic fantasy, but not so long that it feels like it drags on. While the soundtrack isn't the best, it nevertheless fits in with the game well, and the artwork designs of the map are absolutely gorgeous and I frequently found myself just looking at maps just to admire them.

Overall, I recommend this game if you are ready to invest a good amount of time in it, as it's obvious a lot of love and care went into making the game, and it is a deep and interesting world to explore.