Since my First Impressions post I’ve clocked over 50 hours into KC:D and more than half of this time has been spent on side content, of which I believe I just barely scratched the surface. I won’t deny that there are issues, but I haven’t experienced any game-breaking bugs or glitches so far, and apart from the irregular framerate I really can’t complain much. I know many early reviewers were stuck with the preview build, which was likely less stable and more messy, so it’s understandable that a few of them gave it roughly a 5/6 out of 10. Currently, the Metacritic score is 75 while the OpenCritic score is 72, and the Steam score is 74. The general perception is that these are poor scores for such an ambitious game, but if you actually read the reviews you’ll find rather that it’s a very divisive game: those who like it, really like it; and those who don’t like it, really don’t like it.
Well, I love it. I haven’t been this immersed in an open world RPG since The Witcher 3, and Fallout: New Vegas before it. And immersion is not just a matter of graphics or gameplay, it’s a matter of how the game world reacts to my interactions and choices; how it feels to navigate the game world and mess around with its systems. That’s where KC:D shines, no matter how lacking it can be when it comes to performance. Granted, this isn’t the kind of game that a whole lot of gamers enjoy, considering the most popular games on the market today, but those who are into this kind of complex machinery of RPG systems and interactions will have their hands very full with KC:D and get their money’s worth in both quality and quantity.
Most of my time so far has been spent on honing my skills, both combat and general skills. Since I’m trying as much as possible to be a little bit of everything and see how everything works, I’m all over the place: I’m a knight in shining armour but also a thief and a looter; I’m romancing the girl next door but also shtupping bathmaids on the side; I’m an alchemist and a scholar but also running charlatan schemes…
And somehow it all feels cohesive, somehow it makes sense for a normal guy like Henry to make the best of everything that happens to him after going through the invasion and slaughter of his village, even if it includes dishonest or dishonourable work, which starts when he meets the miller Peshek, who introduces him to lockpicking and pickpocketing and urges him to take “jobs” to pay for the debts incurred while he was recovering from the wounds and trauma he goes through in the first act.
Sure, you can roleplay as an Honourable Knight Henry and never steal, never kill your enemies once they surrender, and try to make the most honourable and honest choices, and also go full Thief Henry. But I’m finding that the grey area in between is more fun and more versatile, not only to get the best of both worlds, but also to make my Henry a more realistic and flawed character.
The combat is the best first-person melee combat I have ever played, no doubt about it. It feels very visceral, like you’re really putting your weight into it and not just clicking and hacking a sword randomly. At first, when Henry has no skill whatsoever, it can look and play awful, but once you undergo your first sessions of training in the village and later in Rattay, it becomes very organic and fluid. There’s a rhythm and pacing to it that is easy to learn but hard to master, and the more you practise, the better it feels. Archery is also very good and challenging, requiring more patience to learn, but once you get into it, it’s unlike any archery gameplay out there, and it feels very satisfying to hit a target when there’s no crosshair to make it easier.
Even if you hate the save system (you have to drink Saviour Schnapps, which is expensive to buy but cheap to craft if you try alchemy, and you can mod it out it on PC); even if the performance can be a drag; even if the animations are kind of stiff and repetitive, this is a game that feels alive; a game world that bustles with life… whether I am hunting alone in the woods or walking around a town or talking to NPCs and trying to persuade them, it is an experience that I won’t soon forget, and I will play at least a hundred hours before I take a break. The patches will keep coming and refining the game further, so if you haven’t played it yet, I would recommend waiting for v1.3, which will be out soon.
KC:D is indeed better than the average scores suggest, but it is also a fiercely niche RPG that many gamers will probably not enjoy, and that’s fine.