Based upon the best-selling books by Ken Follett, ‘Pillars Of The Earth’ is set in the fictional English town of Kingsbridge during the mid-12th century. This is a particularly bleak time in history set amidst the anarchy caused by the sinking of the ‘White Ship’ as well as the murder of Thomas Becket. The game based off the books is set to be released in three installments and has the player taking control of three characters (Jack, Aliena, and Phillip) as you point and click your way through the town of Kingsbridge solving puzzles and completing tasks. Without further ado, here is my review of Daedalic Entertainment’s ‘Pillars of the Earth: Chapter 1 – From The Ashes’.
Pillars Of The Earth has absolute breathtaking visuals. The animation is like nothing I’ve seen before, the way the characters move, it’s definitely unique. But all this pales in comparison to the incredibly beautiful and detailed backgrounds in the scenes. The lighting is exceptional, and the use of color is genius. When I play games, or watch movies or TV shows, I do fancy myself a fan of over the top violence or bloody situations (the church scene from Kingsman comes to mind). Now this game isn’t over the top, but it’s not afraid to shed a bit of blood, and that’s not something you see much in animated games like this so it was somewhat shocking but in a totally good way.
I found the game incredibly immersive. The puzzles for the most part are very fun, the characters have interesting conversations that I can listen to for hours (I talk more about this below), and the artstyle and aesthetic is one I can bask in for hours. The story is great, engaging enough for me to go out and pick up the book it’s based off.
Easily the best thing about the game is the script and voice acting. The game is written very well, it’s not afraid to explore characterization and be engaging while still keeping in mind the dark and bleak time period that it’s set in. I was amazed how the game brought up even the tiniest action I performed earlier on in the episode. I’ve seen many amazing scripts almost ruined by poor voice acting, but that is definitely not the case with Pillars Of The Earth. The cast does an outstanding job portraying their characters. There is so much emotion and energy in the dialogue that it is very easy to just tune out the rest of the game and just listen to people speak. Speaking of attention to detail, I’m pretty sure I even heard varying British regional accents during my playthrough, and if that’s the case then I am amazed.
I don’t play too many games of this nature, but when I do, the one thing I dread perhaps most of all is backtracking. Unfortunately, Pillars Of The Earth suffers from this same flaw that many other games do. I found myself often returning to places within the same chapter more than once, something I think could have been avoided. Sticking with the ‘adventure game curse’ that many games are plagued with, this game has a lot of puzzles that a little too long-winded, and would get old long before I would finish them.
With all this being said, Daedalic Entertainment has definitely started this series off on the right foot. This time period and subject matter may be off-putting to many people, but the game does a good job of engaging its players and immersing them into a world that they can care about with characters they will grow attached to. It has it’s issues (as does every game), but the incredible script, voice acting, animation, art, and story easily makes up for it tenfold. Fans of the adventure game genre should definitely jump on the Pillars of the Earth wagon because it’s going to be a good ride.