Having played both of the Pillars of Eternity games, I rediscovered my liking for RPG games and went looking for other recent examples I could get into playing and after a bit of experimentation ended up with Pathfinder: Kingmaker. It hasn’t yet drawn me in quite as well as the Pillars games but it has still been quite enjoyable so far though it does certainly feel like a much less polished experience—this game was unfortunately quite known for the amount of bugs it had at launch, and even now some of them still seem to plague the game. The one I most recently ran into that is now making me consider how to proceed is that one of my companions’ pet now simply spawns in the middle of whatever map I happen to be on and is uncontrollable, essentially completely removing the pet from the game and consequently making that companion quite a bit less useful, which is especially unfortunate for me since that was one of the companions I had been quite regularly running with up until now.
Beyond that, the writing also feels quite a bit more cliché, with the game focusing a bit too much on the beauty and prioritising that for both the female companions as well as some of the other NPCs one runs into in the game, especially in some of the dialogue choices the game puts on you.
Still, the kingdom management aspect is actually a nice feature of the game I find, and at times I even find myself getting somewhat annoyed having to go back to questing due to some timed event or another pressuring me away from that part of the game and I think the balance between the two is rather nicely achieved where there are multiple things to keep tabs on and you have to prioritise what is more important at any given time.
The less nice thing is that some of the tools the game gives you for keeping tabs on things are rather poor, namely the way the game indicates quests and where in the world you are actually going leaves something to be desired I find. I’m not saying there needs to be an arrow pointing to every single thing in the world, but when I get a prompt in the dialogue that an NPC pointed out a location on the map to me and I then go to look on the map and see no indication what this “new” location is since I’d already discovered it on the way there, it does get a bit annoying to try to puzzle out what the game wants me to be doing. Most of the time the game does have some indication when hovering over a location of the map that a quest takes place there, but not always, and once enough of the map is discovered and the game suddenly decides to send you off into some far-flung corner of it having some option to just click in the journal to have the map display the relevant part of the map would be a rather nice feature to have. Not having this included might be an intentional decision though, where the game tries to emulate some of the older style of RPG where there were fewer UI elements helping you along but those games also tended to have a bit more thorough descriptions in the text where you could ask where something was supposed to be located, and intentional or not it’s not really a design I agree with.
Despite these flaws, it is a game I definitely want to go back to at some point, when I either figure out how I want to deal with the bug I encountered or when it ends up getting fixed. Despite the clichés, I do want to see where the story ends up going even if the general direction of it seems somewhat obvious.