Review

The Pillars Of The Earth Review

  • First Released Aug 15, 2017
    released
  • XONE
Blake Hester on Google+

A slowly paced journey through political and personal drama.

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For those with patience, there's a wonderful story of political corruption, self-discovery, and religious reliance to be found in The Pillars of the Earth. However, for anyone with a short attention span, it'd be hard to recommend this game as its slow pace and often drip-feed-style storytelling can make it tough to get through. Stick it out, however, and you find that this first episode (of three) hints at a larger, more meaningful story to come.

Based on Ken Follet's 1989 novel of the same name, this adventure game gives you control of two characters with intertwining stories. The first of which is Philip, an abbey Prior who's more or less responsible for a war between two English settlements. Philip, while sometimes unsure of himself, is portrayed as a considerate, mindful character. His counterpart is Jack, a child who's grown up off the grid, living in a cave with only his mother. Jack is far less sure of himself and, at the encouragement of his mother, hardly trusts the world around him.

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Following these two characters is a highlight of The Pillars of the Earth, seeing the way their stories eventually come together and influence one another. But it's the story at large and its cast of secondary characters that make this world worth inhabiting. Each environment, scene, and character also has their own unique, hand-painted look to them, often with grand senses of scale and depth.

Set in the 12th century, The Pillars Of The Earth tackles plot points both grandiose and granular. After King Henry I of England dies without a set heir, his nephew and daughter feud over which of them should take his place. This clash causes turmoil in England, leading to eventual wars. And while political strife makes up a lot of the overarching story, The Pillars Of The Earth isn't afraid to dive deeper into its characters, showing quiet, intimate moments where, for example, Jack learns about his upbringing or Philip writes letters to his brother. The dichotomy between these two layers keeps you--for the most part--intrigued along the way.

A large cast of unique characters fleshes out this tale, adding secondary layers of motivation to the game's story. Within the first few minutes, you meet all of the the monks at Kingsbridge cathedral, where Philip has been named Prior. Each of them has a unique relationship with Philip, and it's your job to navigate their conversations and form alliances whenever possible. Furthermore, Jack's uncertainty about the world combines with his childhood curiosity. These moments are helped along with strong voice acting and a wonderful script that's packed with emotion.

And yet despite the interesting characters and stories that await, it's still difficult to wholeheartedly recommend Pillars of the Earth. While it's certainly not uncommon for adventure games to forego action for narrative, The Pillars of the Earth moves at a snail's pace. There is drama, but little in the way of tangible tension.

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And unfortunately, there are a slew of technical issues to contend with along the way. Loading new environments often slows the framerate down to a chug (on Xbox One), and characters would sometimes talk over one another, making it difficult to follow either line of dialogue. The game also enters a load screen nearly every time it plays a new scene, which is a lot. For a game with an already slow pace, this can really hinder a lot of interest as you're forced to sit through extra screens and endure poor framerates just to get to the next story beat.

It'll be interesting to see how The Pillars of the Earth evolves over its next two episodes. As of right now, it's crafted a fascinating story full of great characters. It might not be a game for everyone as it deliberately chooses to take its time getting to the point. However, if you enjoy gripping dramas, and don't mind sitting still for a bit, The Pillars of the Earth will reward your patience with the beginning of what appears to be a fascinating tale.

Blake Hester on Google+
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The Good
Great story and characters
Strong visual direction
The Bad
Its pace may be a hangup for some
Slew of technical issues
7
Good
About GameSpot's Reviews

About the Author

A fan of adventure games, Blake Hester took his time with The Pillars of the Earth, talking to as many NPCs as possible and collecting as many story scraps as he could. GameSpot was provided with a complimentary copy of the game for the purposes of this review.
21 Comments  RefreshSorted By 
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DEVILTAZ35

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Well if they are going to release broken games then they shouldn't be recommended at all let alone a 7.

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p1p3dream

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Does anyone have this game? Can anyone answer the question of what the gameplay is?

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Sacrilegious1

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@p1p3dream: I'm currently playing it. The game is similar to telltale games but with more exploration.

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p1p3dream

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@sacrilegious1: Right on, this is probably right up my alley then. Thank you.

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Sacrilegious1

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@p1p3dream: i have finished the first episode since my last post and am eagerly awaiting part 2. Pity i gotta wsit till December. Beautiful game.

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p1p3dream

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@sacrilegious1: Ugh. I really don't like the episodic format :(

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NaturallyEvil

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So, is this a point and click adventure game? Are there puzzles? Is it just an interactive storybook with literally no game portion included?

Did I miss part of this review skimming through? It looks like the gameplay is literally not even mentioned.

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p1p3dream

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@NaturallyEvil: I'm actually curious as well. I re-read the review and you are right, there really isn't any mention to the actual GAMEPLAY part of this game. GS, whats up? I'm usually totally behind you with your reviews, but the last couple I've read seemed to miss the mark.

This review sounds like you're reviewing a movie rather than a game. Or, is this in fact a visual novel type game?

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Dilandau88

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If anyone is interested, there is a phenomenal multi-part series TV show also based on the book. It is unreal.

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deactivated-5bd1e31726b43

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@Dilandau88: Where can you watch it?

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Hurvl

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It's fitting that Blake Hester reviewed this game, because just like Eddie Redmayne (who played the red-haired lead character in the tv-miniseries), he also has a red mane.

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Byshop

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Byshop  Moderator

What an odd choice of source material for a video game.

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Sacrilegious1

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@Byshop: I havent read the book nor watched the series, but from what I have played so far, the story is quite good. Will be watching the series soon thanks to this game.

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DeadlyMustard

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Edited By DeadlyMustard

@Byshop: Yeah, I love the book but I'm really wondering how it translates. I'll probably play it out of sheer curiosity and as a way to refresh my memory of the story since it's been a few years.

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judaspete

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Edited By judaspete

@Byshop: Right? I mean, the book is amazing and the mini-series is pretty good too, but it is not a story with events that easily translate to gameplay.

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deactivated-59d93aedefe7a

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I was scrolling dow and the first big screenshot was ...WOW . Beautiful hand drawn.

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lindallison

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@kungfumaster:

Daedalic has very strong artwork, everything else from writing to puzzle design can be a little sketchy, but they're a talented and prolific bunch.

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DarthRevenX

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@kungfumaster: that pic doesn't look like a hand....no looks like a wharf lolz

not to be confused with Lt Commander Worf.......

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RGLGAThrawn

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@darthrevenx: You must be the highlight of parties.

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DarthRevenX

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@rglgathrawn: never been to one........lolz but i play a partygoer on TV......<eh, not really lolz

Ken Follett's The Pillars of the Earth More Info

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  • First Released Aug 15, 2017
    released
    • iOS (iPhone/iPad)
    • Linux
    • + 4 more
    • Macintosh
    • PC
    • PlayStation 4
    • Xbox One
    7.9
    Average Rating10 Rating(s)
    Please Sign In to rate Ken Follett's The Pillars of the Earth
    Developed by:
    Daedalic Entertainment, Kalypso
    Published by:
    Daedalic Entertainment, Kalypso
    Genre(s):
    Adventure
    Content is generally suitable for ages 17 and up. May contain intense violence, blood and gore, sexual content and/or strong language.
    Mature
    Blood, Sexual Themes, Strong Language, Violence