Ken Follett's The Pillars of the Earth PlayStation 4 Review

Deeply explore Ken Follett's The Pillars of the Earth and feel the coming of an even deeper story in the future.

By RON, Posted 27 Aug 2017

Video games based on novels aren’t a new concept these days. Games such as Lord of the Rings, The Witcher, etc. all originated from novels. Following the same path, The Pillars of the Earth, a historical novel by Ken Follett published in 1989, made its way to PC and consoles through Daedalic Entertainment. The novel was widely praised for its story which revolved around the building of a cathedral in the town of Kingsbridge, England. Daedalic decides to put you in that complex and brilliant story and test your patience with a mix of political corruption and religious intrigue. A quick warning if you’re preparing yourself to throw yourself into this story: there is a lot of mature content to be found in the game such as childbirth, sexual objectification of women and random uses of adult language. And, at the same time, a good degree of violence. If, however, you can make it through the first of the three episodes of this game, you’re going to discover a meaningful story.

Ken Follett's,The Pillars of the Earth,PlayStation 4,Review,Video Game,Gameplay,Screenshots

Ken Follett’s The Pillars of the Earth takes place during the 12th century when King Henry I of England dies without a confirmed heir. A dilemma occurs between his daughter and nephew in regards to whom should take his place. This dilemma between the two settlements quickly devolves into inevitable war. Obviously, due to its story, The Pillars of the Earth stands out from any of the point-and-click adventure you’ll come across these days. This happens because instead of solving puzzles or crime scenes, your main objective is to keep the families together. The game lets your control two major characters indicating a connecting story. The story does, however, take a long time to get going, while Daedalic have wisely kept some contrast between the characters that mostly keeps you attached to the story.

An abbey Prior, Philip of Gwynedd, who seemed responsible for the conflict between the two settlements, is one of the main characters of The Pillars of the Earth. On the other side, there’s Jack, who lives with his mother in a cave, away from the rest of the world. Jack hardly trusts anyone due to the way he was brought up. Unlike any other adventure game, the tasks of these two characters is to keep their families together. Anyone could easily complete a chapter without facing any puzzle if they want to. There are no skip buttons, but you can simply avoid a conversation or not prolong it, and stop the coming of any task or puzzle. It’s not that can you literally go through the entire game without exchanging a word, but there are task which are avoidable and will surely have an after effect in the game. Say you had a chance to help a cleric and you chose not to, he might not come positively in a future sequence in a conversation. Breaking the usual mechanism of point and click adventure game, The Pillars of the Earth doesn’t force you to face the challenges. Conversations, however, play out in a simple manner, by just picking an option from a list. The options that you do pick will have an effect in a future encounter if that particular character is part of another plot or scene.

Ken Follett's,The Pillars of the Earth,PlayStation 4,Review,Video Game,Gameplay,Screenshots

Speaking of conversations, this game is less about managing inventories and puzzles, and more exploring the problems and solving other characters’ problems. It doesn’t really fall more into the classic type of point and click adventures, being closer to the new Telltale games Basically, the stories of the two characters ultimately blend together, influencing the main story. Their main activity is to influence all the other characters through conversations, to agree with them or do certain tasks. The scenes related to each character and their plots are unique and have decent depth, contributing their fair share to the main story. And the story, frankly, has a very slow pace. Perhaps it’s necessary for showcasing medieval politics with all its rawness.

Soon after the game starts, Philip will be acquainted with all the other characters from Kingsbridge cathedral. These characters are mostly monks where Philip is the Prior, and he has a unique relationship with each of them. As Philip, your main responsibility is to maintain alliances with all these monks through a series of conversations, and help them whenever needed. It’s totally up to the players how they want to maintain diplomacy with the other characters, as the game doesn’t force players to get engaged deeply with each character. Playing as Jack relies mostly on facing his reluctance about the world and knowing more about his surroundings. Those who haven’t read the book by Ken Follett, may find it difficult to picture how these two characters from totally different worlds are going to deliver a combined story. As this first episode is more of a prologue, players who are exploring deeply the world of The Pillars of the Earth will feel the coming of an even deeper story in the future.

Ken Follett's,The Pillars of the Earth,PlayStation 4,Review,Video Game,Gameplay,Screenshots

Ken Follett’s The Pillars of the Earth is hurt by the actual story unraveling too slowly, even for a prologue. However, besides the story being very slow paced, the only thing which bugged me most was the excessive amount of loading screens. Each time a new scene is played, there’s a loading screen, and it’s happening too often, which bogs things down enough to let frustration in, especially considering the pacing of the story. I really hope that Daedalic is planning to fix this before releasing the next episodes. Other than this, I still find the story has a lot more to dig through especially when the character designs are so deep and excellent, aided by superb voice acting. Graphically, the game is also pleasing its background and character art style. So, if you’re a fan of dramas and have some time to spare, The Pillars of the Earth might be the choice to break the monotony from regular run and gun games.

Sarwar Ron, NoobFeed
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General Information

Platform(s): PS4
Publisher(s): Daedalic Entertainment
Developer(s): Daedalic Entertainment
Genres: Point And Click
Themes: Adventure, Novel
Release Date: 2017-08-15

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