There are not enough games like Pillars of Eternity. One that creates a world and systems so deep that you could easily lose yourself to multiple playthroughs with completely different characters. Despite being a throwback to games of old, running on Bioware’s Infinity Engine, it proves itself to transcend beyond its forerunners to create possibly the best cRPG in a long, long time.
And it’s a game that almost didn’t exist. It’s a sad state of affairs where games this good would never have existed without fans. The game, despite being published by Paradox, was pretty much funded by its Kickstarter backers, people itching to get another cRPG game.
The most impressive thing about Pillars of Eternity that despite games like Baldur’s Gate and Icewind Dale having incredibly detailed worlds, Pillars of Eternity is just as deep, if not deeper and builds on an incredibly enticing world, completely new to fans of the genre.
Obsidian have done an incredible job of creating a new fantasy world that doesn’t feel like it’s being dragged down by clichés and being forced to tick off fantasy boxes. Everything from the world, its inhabitants, and its mysteries all deserve to be uncovered.
Even utilising a “fog of war” style of play is exciting as you uncover maps, not knowing what may lurk in one direction. It doesn’t hold your hand nor does it hold you back. It feels free and open to explore, but don’t expect to live very long should adventure too much in some directions.
The problem with writing a review to this game is the fact that I could genuinely go on for thousands of words, breaking down every little feature and facet, telling you that each one is better than the next. It’s a culmination of fine-tuned, tried-and-true mechanics and systems that together make one of the most captivating games in some time – and it just doesn’t look like it on the surface.
The combat is a combination of pause and real-time. You can attempt to go into every encounter in real-time but that will usually result in a quick death; Instead, you must survey your surroundings, understand the enemy and attack the enemy accordingly, unpause, watch it unfold, pause, and repeat. If that sounds dull to you then this isn’t for you but those they get excited by this prospect know that this is one of the best combat systems in classic Role Playing Games for some time.
With the wealth and depth of so many character classes, each encounter may be different. You could have dozens of spells, enchantments, skills, and attacks to utilise at any one time and it matters which ones you decide to utilise. You’ll learn from your mistakes and enhance your skills together to further your progression. Making it through multi-tiered dungeons is thrilling and rewarding.
You can easily lose yourself to the lore alone, spend hours exploring the world, and even more hours getting better at the battling system. It’s all here to spend dozens of hours in. There’s not one stand out aspect but all of them are incredibly well-implemented meaning there is no weak point to criticise. This is a labour of love to classic games and it’s one that hopefully brings them back with a brand new series and a sequel. It’s a game I seemingly can’t get enough of.