Embark on a journey to a realm overrun by demons in Pathfinder: Wrath of the Righteous, a new epic RPG from the creators of the critically acclaimed Pathfinder: Kingmaker. Explore the nature of good and evil, learn the true cost of power, and rise as a Mythic Hero capable of deeds beyond mortal expectations.
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Abandoned: Sept 7 2021
Time: 11 Hours
I really wanted to like this game, I really did. Pathfinder Kingmaker is a game I'd considered playing many times during my last month or two of CRPG-binging, but one I'd stayed away from, mostly due to its daunting length and reputation for being a little stilted on the writing front. With this new one coming out though, and a promise to be more reigned in and a much greater focus on writing, I thought I'd give it a go.
Once I messed around with the settings enough to get it running smoothly on my machine, I hopped into character creation and whaddya know, it's literally just Pathfinder! If you don't know, Pathfinder is a tabletop role playing game heavily based on an older version of D&D, seeking to preserve some of the number-crunchyness that got left by the wayside in more recent editions. Anyways, this is probably the most faithful and expansive conversion of a ttrpg to CRPG I've seen since Neverwinter Nights 2, with a huuuge variety of classes and races and build options to choose from. Plus, the game has an option to operate either in real-time mode, a la Baldur's Gate and Pillars of Eternity, or turn-based mode, which is how Pathfinder on a tabletop is actually played. So if you want to be able to play Pathfinder by yourself, you'd be hard pressed to find a more polished and complete way to do it.
All that is great, and by all accounts improved from Kingmaker. But it's not really what I play these games for. I'm much more interested in the way tabletop mechanics interact with a story, especially with the way they allow you to fully explore a character's internal world when done best, and the way they can build a world that's believable as a bustling city, or a lonely hill in a forest. On this I'm kind of split with this game. The story is great, one of the better paced stories in a game like this that I've played, and the way it explores the mythology of Pathfinder and the world it takes place in is truly stellar, truly on par with the best. What I don't like, however, is the writing.
Now, I haven't played Kingmaker, so I'm not sure if it's any better than in that game, but what's here should be fun and full of character, and while it certainly is trying to be all of that, it just falls so short of any kind of naturalism or believability. The dialogue reads like it was copied out of a prebuilt D&D module. It's technically witty and telling about whoever's speaking it, but reading it in a game like this leaves me parched. There's an emphasis on dialogue, but no work to make it interesting to actually read that dialogue, outside of making the subject of what they're talking about interesting. But even with that it just feels like I'm reading a saltine cracker most of the time.
And that's not even mentioning the way alignment is implemented in the dialogue system!! Pathfinder has the same morality system as D&D, Good/Neutral/Evil and Lawful/Neutral/Chaotic, with any combination of the two axes providing a certain alignment (such as Chaotic Good, the Batman morality, or Lawful Evil, the morality of demons who need you to sign contracts before they take your soul). The way the game uses these, it treats them as two seperate axes. You can choose Chaotic choices in conversation, you can choose Good choices in conversation, but you can't choose a Chaotic Good option. That might not sound like a big deal, but the writing between the Chaotic option and the Good option sound like completely different characters. Same with Evil and Lawful. It's less liek you're role-playing a character with a certain morality to them, and more like you're choosing the good or chaotic options because your character is good and chaotic. A subtle difference, to be sure, but one that infects every part of the game, even the companion writing.
On top of THAT, there's this... crusade system. You see, you end up leading an army against the invading demon army. It governs the way you cross the world map, with demon encampments blocking your traversal until you build an army and deal with them, and it's just, like, boring and slow and all kinds of underbaked. Recruiting units is tedious and expensive, and battles feel like they have random outcomes. As a small, optional minigame in a much larger CRPG it'd be fine, forgettable, but not worth talking about. As not only a mandatory part of the game, but a sizeable chunk of the way you even get from point A to point B on the map? It's at best annoying and at worst utterly detestable, and it's what killed my motivation to continue the game.
It's not a bad game, not in the slightest, and if you're looking to play a ttrpg on a computer you could do much worse, but if you're looking for something with the quality of a Bioware RPG, or an Obsidian RPG, or hell even an InXile RPG you should keep looking.
Nocticula: gaslights, gatekeeps, girlboss
My Azata Protag: haha slay queen!
Ember: nonono, don't gaslight and gatekeep, only girlboss
Protag: hmmmm, maybe she's right.
Nocticula: hahaha, get out of here you stupid child
Ember and Protag leave
Nocticula: hmmmm, maybe she's right.
WotR is everything Kingmaker wishes it was, and a little bit more. it is not perfect by any means, many of the storylines (main quests, side quests and companion quests alike) fall flat and the mythic paths are very unbalanced in terms of content and narrative. that said, it was consistently engaging and the crusade management rocks soooo hard in comparison to the Kingmaker kingdom management system. art and graphics are beautiful and the 360 camera has been integrated fantastically, allowing for amazing map designs with depth and interaction on another level. the story is pretty standard stuff, but the mythic path system gives it great flair and replayability, though I found it hard to deviate from my first one (azata main 4life <3), which still remains my favorite. all in all a great game!
The game is definitely getting better with every patch, and is already much better than kingmaker was initially. There are still some rough patches, though, and I don't think anything can fix the crusade mode, which is a good idea that lacks both consequence to the story and interesting gameplay outside of being a money dump.
The plot seems like your typical fantasy affair, and it is at it's core, but Mid Act 3 and on the game starts to bare its true scale, and it becomes engrossing to follow. The setting is a little overwritten still considering it's tabletop parentage, but mostly all what you need to know is kept within the confines of the worldwound and you, so it doesn't feel overindulgent.
The gameplay, if you're a fan of slower paced stuff, is rewarding to get the hang of, especially if you're someone who loves to pour over rpg mechanics and make builds for something. There is a rather large problem in that it can take a ton of time, every single encounter, to prepare every single buff you're going to want to do. It's a sad bit of busywork that plagues the game, again, because of its tabletop origins. I hope theres a solution to it, maybe in a patch in the future or (if there is going to be one) their next installment.
Either way, good stuff, one of my favorite CRPG's as of now.