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Depending on who you ask, Pathfinder: Kingmaker may come across as either an incredibly deep CRPG or a tedious, frustrating experience. My own experience with Kingmaker lies somewhere in between. While I was fortunate enough to pick up the game after many of the issues were ironed out, I never did quite get fully into the kingdom management. The ever-ticking timer may have had something to do with it. Even though the game gave you plenty of options to work around it, that feeling of a clock ticking down on top of my head did indeed impact my enjoyment of the game. But hey, that’s just me. I know plenty of folks who were perfectly fine with that system in place.

That aside, I had a good time with the game. I did not have much experience with the Pathfinder lore or ruleset before —that much is true, yet I got into the groove after several hours of playtime. I’ve been told that Kingmaker is one of the most faithful adaptations of a tabletop RPG and at the same time, I found it to be an equally enjoyable CRPG. I also appreciated the game’s accessibility options that ensured that I did not have to min-max my party to enjoy the game. All these reasons made me excited for Pathfinder: Wrath of the Righteous, the highly anticipated sequel by Owlcat Games.

I’ve been fortunate enough to be given an early review copy of the game and that too, just in time—I had just gotten back from my self-imposed RPG exile.  Wrath of the Righteous is a sprawling RPG spanning hundreds of hours of gameplay. In order to do a proper in-depth review of the game, I need to put a considerable amount of time into it. Don’t fret, my lazy ass is still working on it. In the meantime, here’s sort of a mini-review/early impression of the game from the viewpoint of an RPG fan who’s very inexperienced when it comes to Pathfinder.

From the 30 or so hours I’ve spent with the game, I can easily sum up this entire piece in just a few words- If you liked Kingmaker, you’ll love Wrath of the Righteous. If you found the first one’s mechanics too complex or were easily dissuaded by its technical issues, Wrath of the Righteous won’t win you over.

For starters, the sequel is as complex (if not more) and deep as its predecessor in every way imaginable. Right from the character creation, you’ll be bombarded with screens filled with technical terms and meta-information related to the ruleset. But if you’ve played any major CRPG in your life or better yet, played Kingmaker, most of the stuff will be easy to grasp. If not, the game does a decent job of explaining the various stats, numbers, and attributes via glossaries and tutorials. It’s easy for a newcomer to get lost amidst the two dozen status effects, but then again, you wouldn’t be here if this was your first rodeo.

Much like Kingmaker, you’ll be selecting a character from a pre-made list (eww) or making your own custom character from a wide variety of races and classes. Wrath of the Righteous doubles down in this regard and offers you far more options to choose from – more races, classes, prestige classes, feats, etc. As per tradition, you are then forced into a sizeable tutorial section where the game holds your hand to explain the various mechanics, introduce you to potential companions, etc. The good thing is that you need not have played Kingmaker to enjoy the story of Wrath of the Righteous. It’s a new self-contained story set years after the original.

The game begins in the city of Kenabres situated in the world of Golarion. The city is under a constant demonic threat. One fateful day during your arrival into the city, the demon lord Deskari lays siege to the city and wreaks all kinds of (nine) hell. As always, it’s up to you to save the world. I haven’t completed the game to fully judge the narrative but it’s basically a well-told ‘Chosen One’ story with some neat additions. Throughout the narrative, you get to make decisions that lead you down specific Mythic Paths (think alignments but cooler). These paths define your character (both in narrative and in gameplay) and help in branching out the story to provide replayability.

It wouldn’t be a Chosen One story if you did not get to lead an army against evil. In place of the kingdom management from Kingmaker, Wrath of the Righteous features an army management system where you are in charge of forming and leading the Crusade against demonic forces – not too dissimilar from a strategy game like say, Spellforce. I wouldn’t say I’m a big fan of these systems in my RPGs, but the battles can be fun and they switch up the gameplay quite a bit. Like in Kingmaker, you can tweak the settings to make this system as easy or hard as you please (or you can just set it to auto and not worry about it).

Another thing I like is the removal of timers from the game. Well, to be honest, there are some timers in Chapter 1 and there is a relative timer to the invasion. But as long as you take part in Crusades, you can soft-refresh the timers and prevent demonic invasion – at least that’s what I understood from the little I’ve played.

Owlcat Games is bringing over all the nice additions and QoL stuff they added to Kingmaker in the form of patches. So, you can expect the much-appreciated turn-based mode to be there from day 1. To me, the ability to switch between the RTwP and Turn-Based modes is a godsend. Now I can play at my own pace from the get-go. The visuals are more or less the same with minor improvements, but hey, the game looks beautiful already (if you excuse some janky animations). The voice acting is also pretty solid (from the viewpoint of a non-native English speaker). I do think that the game should let you zoom out a bit more during dungeon crawling though.

Now let’s talk about the most talked-about aspect from the first game – the technical issues. On my PC with an R5 5600x and an RTX 3070, the game ran above 60 fps at all times but couldn’t keep up that magic 144 frames at all times. I think the game should be hitting higher numbers considering how it looks. Even though it’s installed on an NVME SSD, I still felt frame hiccups here and there, but thankfully, the load times are super fast this time around (yay!).

As for bugs, I haven’t run into anything game-breaking so far. There were some minor UI bugs and other glitches caused by rapid switching between TB and RTwP, but as always, your mileage may vary. Whatever the case may be, I can assure you that it’s far better than Kingmaker in terms of technical soundness.

If you haven’t seen the title already, Wrath of the Righteous is basically Kingmaker but better in (almost) all aspects. I say “almost” because I cannot talk about the quality of the narrative towards the end. From what I’ve played, Owlcat Games have done a damn good job with the sequel. It sticks to the same gameplay formula introduced in Kingmaker and doubles down on it – so much so that you may even call the game Kingmaker 1.5 if you want. But hey, that’s a win in my book.

So if you liked Kingmaker, there’s a big (and that’s a big “big”) chance that the sequel won’t disappoint you. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got some smiting to do!



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