Pathfinder: Kingmaker- Definitive Edition is a sticky situation when it comes to reviewing and giving it a rating. In almost every respect this is a wonderful CRPG. However, as a port of a PC release, it’s pretty rough and makes it hard to recommend. It’s not completely broken, but it’s an inferior version on consoles compared to its original release. It is something that I so desperately want to recommend but simply can’t in the current state.
Kingmaker is a classic party-based CRPG, based in the tabletop universe of Pathfinder, majorly inspired by games like Baldur’s Gate and Icewind Dale. Unlike many new games in this genre, Kingmaker really sticks to the old-school sensibilities of those games. It’s a game with immense depth and challenge; this is not an experience for the first timer – we’re talking real digital dice rolls here.
It’s a good sign when you can spend hours just in the character creator; there’s an insane amount of options in building your character. There are several classes to choose from and each one of them has a couple of subclasses that can massively change their abilities. You may choose to be cleric yet pick a subclass that gives you a druid-like animal companion. There are hybrid mixes of almost every class.
Once you have finally created the perfect hero, you start the game out in a tutorial-like sequence, beginning in classic RPG fashion – a surprise ambush and revenge quest. However it evolves from there, eventually leading you to owning your own kingdom. This is a cool concept and offers some great choice/consequences throughout, really allowing you to see the impact of what you decide to do, first hand. It’s all fairly well-written stuff: the plot is not incredibly engaging but again the interactivity of the tale is pulled off well. It’s also backed up by a great collection of charming and well-voiced companions.
The gameplay keeps pace with the story, offering a hardcore turn-based or active isometric strategy. There’s a truly impressive variety of abilities and strategy available in order to face a multitude of encounters and enemies. Not only is there a huge amount of skills and items, there’s also massive synergy between many of them. It’s fun to see all the ways that you can mix up elements to destroy your foes. Like freezing a whole group of bandits just to shatter them with an overgrowth of vines.
Kingmaker’s pace of the story and combat is brisk and entertaining; despite the length, you’ll be having such a great time it feels like it flies by. However there are aspects that will slow down the experience to a halt on Xbox – things that are unforgivable and need to be fixed before anyone should play it.
For one, the frame rate is atrocious, it feels like it runs at about 25 frames when nothing is happening. It only gets slower from there and once there is a major story sequence or fight, it can slow down to an absolute crawl. During my time with Pathfinder: Kingmaker – Definitive Edition on Xbox One it would literally add multiple minutes to a fight because of the massive slowdown. This is unacceptable for a console release and makes it incredibly hard to play.
It’s also compounded by crashes that occasionally happen while playing; luckily this never did anything to my save or mess up any progress. It usually happened close to saves so it was nothing more than an annoyance, but with the terrible frame rate, it makes the game seem barely put together.
All of these things are fixable and there desperately needs to be a patch to address them before anyone on Xbox should even think about picking this title up.
This is a shame because behind all of the technical trouble of Pathfinder: Kingmaker – Definitive Edition is a really great CRPG that honors its heritage and feels like a 90’s CRPG release – the kind of thing that could stand right next to the classic greats. While it’s certainly not as good as some of those seminal titles, it does come close and is a great time to anyone who wants to party up and venture into a wild and dynamic fantasy world. It’s just a shame that technical aspects stop that from happening.