I’ve long believed that a video game can’t be any good unless it’s made me yell at it at least once.
By this metric, Pillars of Eternity is a great game.
I haven’t really been doing a lot of PC gaming lately. Ever since burning through LEGO Jurassic World this summer, nothing has really inspired me to fire it up. Chalk it up to a combination of too many real world things to do and not being too confident in my aging video card versus the newer generation of games. But the yearly Steam holiday sale had a few things that got my interest, and I decided to take the plunge on one that reminded me of an old favorite.
Pillars of Eternity was crowd funded back in 2012 and finally saw daylight earlier this year. For all intents and purposes, it’s a newer, shinier update of the classic Baldur’s Gate and Icewind Dale games, classic RPGs that kept me up many a late night; Baldur’s Gate 2 contained what remains one of my greatest gaming moments, taking down the final villain with the last surviving member of my party having only one hit point left. So a good pedigree and pretty favorable reviews got me to take the plunge.
I started off with one character that I ended up not digging too much; nothing wrong with the game, I just wasn’t clicking with the mechanics of this particular class (a bard-type called a Chanter). Fortunately, I wasn’t too far into the game, so I went with my trusty, beloved dwarf fighter archetype and really dove in. Everything was going along pretty swimmingly until I met Kana.
Kana, to be kind, is an idiot.
He’s this giant guy (a member of a big, burly sea-faring race) with a huge two-handed sword who might as well be made out of tinfoil. It seems like two or three hits are all it takes to leave him unconscious for the rest of the fight. Now I know I’m probably not using him 100% correctly — he’s one of those Chanters I had trouble wrapping my head around — but nobody else seems to die with anywhere near this kind of frequency.
But aside from this minor frustration, I’m having a ball with a good old-fashioned dungeon crawl adventure. I find I prefer these story-based RPGs as opposed to the sprawling, go wherever you want ones like Skyrim. Not that I want to be on rails, but I like having a sense of urgency, some overriding quest I need to be on. I remember Oblivion setting up your quest to find the missing heir to the kingdom with the fate of the world in the balance, but then letting you ignore it to rob tombs and hunt werewolves. Sometimes I want a story, not a sandbox.
So let me apologize to my neighbors in advance if you hear me shouting. I’m just having a good time.