Game Review

Pillars of Eternity: Complete Edition (2019) [Switch]

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“Trust in dreams, for in them is hidden the gate to eternity.”
-Khalil Gibran

 “The following is a contributor post by the Midnight Mystic Mage.”

(edit) After some SERIOUS backlash on reddit, I would like to add that there are a ton of bugs that many users are experiencing with this port. I feel like you, as a potential buyer deserve to know this and do the research to determine whether or not that is enough to keep you from playing and enjoying the game. None of the bugs I experienced were game-breaking in the slightest. I had 2 crashes at times that did not affect my gameplay and was able to boot back into it and there are more bugs that as I read about them I just did not realize they were bugs at all. I think most of my lack of understanding with the bugs comes from my not having played the game in any of its original forms. Some of the bugs people are experiencing include game crashes, items being logged in the inventory as something other than it is, main players and their party members not being able to properly execute their spells, language glitches, long distance weapons not working, stat bonuses not being properly applied, and more. If you are experiencing any of these issues please get with them directly on twitter so that you can help them to get the issue resolved or see if they already have a fix for you https://mobile.twitter.com/vs_evil/status/1159842388203884545

What’s up, everybody? I’ve had the honor of playing Pillars of Eternity for the Switch before the public release to give you a better idea of how this port has turned out. I didn’t play the original so I won’t be able to let you know how it stacks up against those versions. I will, however, be giving a detailed look at this very in-depth game and how I’m enjoying playing it on my Switch. Of course, I’d like to thank Paradox Interactive for providing the review key; it’s the early key I’ve gotten I’m most proud to be doing.
This port was brought to fruition by nearly 74,000 backers on Kickstarter, who rightfully believed this was a cause worth supporting. Taking a look at the Kickstarter page, otherwise known as “Project Eternity”, it’s easy to see that Obsidian wasn’t stingy with their backers. Through the Kickstarter, they added much content: at different levels, they added new areas and character classes and even an entirely new city. It has too much new content to be considered “just” a port. Many backers were even able to create their own NPC with a short backstory you’re able to read due to the main character being a ” watcher”.
This means they can see into the past and past lives of people by talking to them. There are other abilities which come along with this as well, such as speaking to the dead while by their bodies and plenty of other psychic goodness. This was used brilliantly to integrate the backers from Kickstarter: all you have to do is walk up to NPCs with a yellow sign above their head and speak to them – then you’ll be reading the name and backstory of a funder from the Kickstarter campaign. I’m not sure if they wrote their own but they named and designed their NPCs, which is amazing for people who were able to back it at that level. It makes for an interesting mechanic when you’re wanting to take in a quick backstory or two. This perk was granted to contributors paying at least $1, 000 but there’s no shortage of them; you can find them all over the place.
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Obsidian is a company with an incredible history in the RPG genre. They were originally Black Isle Studios before Interplay disbanded them due to financial difficulty. Luckily, many of the main workers from Black Isle got together to form Obsidian. In their combined tenure, we’re talking about the Icewind Dale series, the Baldur’s Gate series, Planescape: Torment, Star Wars  Knights of the old Republic II: The Sith Lords and the Fallout series. They’re a titan in the RPG landscape.
The character creation is so detailed and has so many options that I spent half my first session creating my character. I went with a human-sized Death Godlike wizard named Resheph. There are many classes to choose from, such as elf, fighter, barbarian, rogue, the new cipher class and quite a few more. The strategy of how you use the different classes in your group is extremely important. I admit I’ve a long way to go before mastering it.

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It can be extremely difficult, especially if you wander into the wrong area before you’ve levelled-up your group well enough. Don’t let this discourage you, though. I was afraid for a moment I was just terrible at the game and wasn’t being strategic enough. It turned out I simply wasn’t ready for the area I was in. Once I made it to another dungeon – the catacombs – I realized I was right on track and had to carefully consider my next move. There’s no shortage of quests, so it can be difficult to decide what to do next. Rather than this feeling overbearing, it instead leaves you feeling like you’ve a ton of fun options.

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There are no ways of replenishing your character’s health while in combat. This was confusing for me while I was trying to find potions and abilities that restore health – I could only find those which restored endurance. This made sense once I realized how the two work during combat. As endurance drains, the picture of your character will slowly tint red and lower from the top.
Your character can be knocked out by running out of endurance, even though they’re not out of health. The health bar is to the right of your character’s portrait and is much slower to run out. If you keep your team’s endurance up during a fight, it will usually be enough to outlast your foes. The only way of restoring health is by resting, so stock up as many camping supplies as you can when at a store and rest at the local inn as often as possible.
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challenge Challenge: 10/10

They did a good job making the difficulty dynamic depending on your skill level. I was going to go for normal mode and skip easy mode but when I read the description I knew that was probably not for the best. They said easy mode was “highly recommended” for those new to the RPG or hadn’t played one in a long time – I fall more into column B but I hadn’t ever gotten very deep into Baldur’s Gate or Icewind Dale the times I’d played them previously. Easy was definitely the route to go for me, according to that strong language. That said, it’s not so easy you can just mow through any dungeon. It still takes plenty of skill and strategy. I look forward to trying the game on higher difficulties in future because this definitely has the makings of one you can play again and again throughout the years.

Another feature I loved in the difficulty category was the Story Time mode for those who want to play simply to enjoy the amazing storytelling without complex battle mechanics. It’s an interesting concept – I see the appeal. I personally prefer to have a challenge as well as a great story but if I were trying to veg out and read through a story without struggling at points, this could be something I might consider. Beyond that there’s the easy, normal, hard, and the dreaded “path of the damned” mode – which sounds like a good goal. Not that I see myself capable of that but who knows what you could do with practice?

replayability Replayability: 10/10

This is a game I can see myself going back to throughout the years. It has all the elements of what makes a game “replayable”. For example, there’s the many different classes you can choose from: barbarian, chanter, cipher, druid, fighter, monk, paladin, priest, ranger, rogue and wizard – 11 classes which make for plenty of ways to go back and play again.

There’s also different dialogue options to choose from that go down a different route every time you play. Maybe you want to be a hero or a villain or even a complacent middle-of-the-road character. There are all kinds of routes you can take and that’s a huge reason to go back again.

Challenge is another factor in why this game is a great one to play over and over. The battles are not only a blast but they’d be fun to go back and try and beat with the difficulty cranked up to make it more challenging. Alternatively, I can see myself going for a nice and relaxing Story Time campaign if I were in the right mood.

Then there’s the fact you can edit your skill trees differently to have a different experience, even within the same class. This is something aided by experience. Realizing what did and didn’t work during previous playthroughs allows you to more clearly decide how to arrange your characters’ skill trees.

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So I would say there are definitely a great amount of reasons why this is a game that will be playable probably for a lifetime for fans of this genre of gaming.

visuals Visuals: 8/10

The visuals aren’t the stunning or breathtaking scenes of a Dragon Age or a Witcher – they’re also not the main focus of the game. They work well with the style. It’s an incredible feat they’re able to pack in as much content as they have, as well as the level of graphics they were able to achieve for a console game you can carry around and play wherever you go. Take it back to the years of Tetris on a green Game Boy screen and watch the jaws hit the floor.

What I love about the visuals is that they take you back to the classic RPGs Obsidian made famous in their Black Isle days. That could be the reason for it. They make you feel you’re in one of those games – except dialled-up to 11 and made into something so awesome it would need to be made today. It reminds me of Stardew Valley in that context.

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accessibility Accessibility: 10/10

Before playing, I wondered how they’d pull-off a style best played on PC due to the items, special actions and characters that need to be dealt with. When I saw the diagram below, explaining the controller layout, as I booted up the game for the first time, I was afraid my fears were going to be realized. It looked incredibly complicated and muddled with different actions, menus and sub menus for all the different modes of play.

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Obviously, I was pleasantly surprised with how accessible the control scheme was for this type of game. I’ve avoided playing games such as these on console due to the fact that, many times, they don’t work well in translation but they were able to pull it off seamlessly. I didn’t think of, or worry about, the controller layout after this moment. Everything felt natural and the mechanics were pulled off flawlessly to match. There were a few nit-picky things such as the button to swap characters not always registering the first time but it never dragged me out of the thrill of battle or the joy of the story.

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Areas like this I felt would be troublesome, but they felt just as natural as they would on a computer.

collection Collection: 10/10

This score is based upon updated versions, as well as HD remasters and collections. I base the merit of this score on the amount of quality content added to this version alone. Through Project Eternity, they’ve added enough material to consider this an entirely different version than has previously been released. They added houses for the player, new playable races, new classes, a stronghold, new dungeons, the endless paths – the list goes on and on. Read below to see the different tiers that were unlocked, they reached every goal on this graphic.

Project Eternity
You gotta love that dad joke at the bottom

I feel spoiled for being introduced to the series with this new and improved version because many things added for the Switch version are things I’ve enjoyed and couldn’t really imagine the game without. If I heard the numbers this Kickstarter raised, and the numbers placed on some of the different tiers for people to invest in, I might’ve been sceptical before playing. After getting deep into it and giving all my free time to it lately, I’m on board and can completely understand what the hype is about and why people were willing to throw so much money into this project. Obsidian was a company they could trust, they had clear goals that were thought out and, after fans blew them away with support, they didn’t disappoint and followed-through on an incredible Kickstarter campaign.

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Pictured is the Stronghold that you are able to fortify, underneath lies the endless paths which are a huge and seemingly endless dungeon.

gameplay.png Gameplay: 7/10

I can only manage minor gripes for this section and it still deserves to be described as a definitive experience, so it definitely should go no lower than a 9. There are the minor issues of unresponsiveness and the load times being slow depending on the area – that’s it. Everything else flows together smoothly and makes an incredible experience you wouldn’t believe is happening on a system with as little power as the Nintendo Switch – I love the Switch, so all I mean is that it feels like they legitimately took a PC-level RPG experience and put it into the palm of your hands. I don’t know how else to put it but that’s an amazing feat if you ask me. What a time to be alive, right?

Fast mode enhances gameplay greatly. When you have to walk across town or a great distance across the map, simply tapping right on the D-pad allows you to do so much more quickly. There’s also a Slow mode, which can be helpful for tactical situations when members of your group are low on health.

 

(edit) So it turns out that there were more bugs that I was experiencing than I actually understood. None of them ruined my experience, but I would like to make a note of them in the name of honesty and transparency. I will be changing this score from a 9 to a 7 accordingly. The language would spas out from time to time during load screens. I thought this might have been some fantasy language thing that made sense in game, but after reading further on it I am pretty sure that is not the case. My fighter was not properly executing the knockdown spell, I thought that it was just applying more damage without much extra animation but after reading about it I believe this is a bug I was experiencing. The game also crashed twice while loading the next area. These are the bugs that upon further research I can tell I was experiencing, but I did not feel like any of them made the game unplayable in the least. This might be the case though if you have played the game in it’s original form and will be able to spot these things as they are happening.

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narrative Narrative: 10/10

I do feel bad commenting on the narrative without having been able to complete the game in its entirety. I do think it’s something I can’t pass up, though, because the whole story is so well done it’d be a shame to not comment on it. Character development is evident from the beginning as you choose your character’s entire backstory, as well as race, where they’re from and what they’ve done.

Characters you meet along the way are endearing and draw you into the quest. You want to help them on their journeys. There are opportunities to speak with them personally  when various things come up they need to discuss. There’s an entire world. There are many options and many ways you can go. You have books all over the place you can read to delve deeper into the lore. There are NPCs in every area with something to add to the experience. The narrative is what makes this game one of the greatest of its kind and an industry standard others can be measured by.

mypersonalgrade My Personal Grade: 9/10

This game will live on and stand the test of time for generations. This version, as far as I can tell, is the best version with the most content and the best way to play it. This isn’t a format I believed this game could thrive in but it not only thrives, it by-far exceeds expectations and is something all RPG fans with a Switch need to experience.

I’ve plenty more playing to do. I’m sure I’ll be playing it from time to time, even after I finish, when the itch comes back. It’s really unlike anything I’ve been able to play so far for the Switch. I hope it sets a precedent for plenty more games of its kind on the platform. The second game of the series is available on the Switch and will have to be added to my list after I complete this one.

Thanks for reading. I hope you were able to gain insight into this incredible adventure. You’ll definitely not go wrong by giving this one a shot.

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Aggregated Score: 9.3

The Midnight Mystic Mage is the resident writer of sublimereviews.wordpress.com, a reviewer of games, books, and film, and a fan of all things horror and spooky. Follow the link… if you dare!

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3 replies »

    • I didn’t run into anything that bothered me. I should have made a note that the game crashed a couple of times, but it wasn’t in away that messed up any progress or inconvenienced me too much. All I had to do was start the game back up and I was right back into it without much trouble. I was reading about a lot of the bugs other people are experiencing and I didn’t have anything like what most of them are in my experience.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Reblogged this on Sublime Reviews and commented:

    Read my review of Pillars of Eternity on Nintendo Switch, spoilers, it’s freaking amazing. It released on the 8th and has a ton of added content due to the highly successful Kickstarter campaign. Take a minute to see why all the hype is definitely warranted.

    Like

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