As an avid fan of both Dungeons & Dragons and Pathfinder for the better part of the past decade, I am always interested when one of these properties takes a dip into the digital side of things. Most recently my focus has been on a CRPG that has adapted one of the best official adventure paths for the Pathfinder tabletop RPG system, Kingmaker.
Pathfinder: Kingmaker faithfully adapts its source material and is truly a love letter to fans of the franchise while remaining accessible to newcomers to the world of Golarion (the setting that Pathfinder takes place in). The game takes its gameplay from other classics in the CRPG genre, such as the Baldur’s Gate, Pillars of Eternity, and the Divinity franchises with some touches that make it have some unique elements. There is a lot to like about the game and it will surely scratch the itch for a variety of gamers, whether you are looking for deep storylines and character development, unforgiving tactical combat, or even a little bit of kingdom management simulation. Personally, my favourite aspect of the game is how it handles your party travelling throughout the region that the story happens in, giving you small text based “choose your own adventure” style options that let you make choices on how you proceed which will have various effects based on what sort of skills your party is bringing along. This may not seem like a huge deal, but it allows the game to take place on a larger scale area without the need for your party of various adventurers to simply stroll repeatedly through maps that you have already seen.
The art design of the game is exactly what fans of Pathfinder would expect considering how closely the developers have tried to stick to the source material. Major characters and party members are each presented with beautiful full body portraits that ensure that they match art taken from the original Kingmaker campaign in its tabletop form. Environments are varied and the creatures that populate them are designed so everything matches the established aesthetic that fans of Pathfinder will immediately recognize. The sound design of the game is also quite immersive with various scores that fit the theme and events that are occurring in-game and tons of voice acting with the majority of lines in the game being voiced so it truly feels as if you are being led through the story by a personal game master.
While the setting of the game is now more accessible to new players, this must be taken with a grain of salt, the game is meaty and will eat up a massive amount of your time if you let it. The amount of character class and skill options present is huge and coupled with the monumental amount of dialogue options and various branching choices that are available to players to dig through it would not be uncommon for a first playthrough of the game to easily take upwards of 60-80 hours. This alone is a major factor in the reason that this captures the essence of tabletop roleplaying and distills it into a digital form, just don’t be surprised when the game begins to slow down a bit at the start of the second act as it continues to add new systems for you to learn and play with.
The game itself has been out for a couple of years, finding success in a 2017 Kickstarter campaign and being released initially on PC in 2018 and receiving several patches and DLCs afterwards, eventually becoming the Enhanced Edition of the game in 2019 bundling the DLCs together for late adopters. The reason for a review at this point is more to focus on the newest release of the game, Pathfinder: Kingmaker Definitive Edition (by the time of review going live) being released on Xbox One and PS4. The content of the game is not being majorly changed mostly focusing on quality of life changes and UI updates to better accommodate the jump from keyboard and mouse to controller, however, there is one major change that fans have been requesting since the release of the game, a turn-based mode that allows you to slow down combat and make more tactical decisions to control the flow of battles. Luckily for current PC owners, all the changes that are included in the console release of the game will be patched into the PC version as well. Unfortunately, at this time there are no announced plans to also bring the game over to the Nintendo Switch, though the developers at Owlcat Games have said that it may be possible in the future. Due to how well received Kingmaker has been Owlcat Games is also currently in development of a spiritual sequel to the game in the form of Pathfinder: Wrath of the Righteous, another official campaign being adapted to digital form that should be showing up within the next couple of years following its own successful Kickstarter campaign.
You can pick up Pathfinder: Kingmaker now on PC on various digital platforms with the console versions being released today for Xbox One and PlayStation 4.