It’s old-school RPG action all the way with Obsidian’s crowdfunded fantasy adventure.
• Manufacturer: Obsidian Entertainment
• Website: eternity. obsidian.net
• Required spec: Windows Vista 64-bit or later, Intel Core i3-2100T 2.50GHz or equivalent 4GB RAM, ATI Radeon HD 4850 or NVIDIA GeForce 9600 GT, 14GB disk space
For many PC gamers, the golden age of the RPG lay with the Infinity Engine-powered greats like Baidur’s Gate, Icewind Dale, and the superb Planescape: Torment. The point-and-click era of RPGs of this kind gave us these classics, and many more, and produced some of the most beloved entries in the genre. These were games that possessed huge quests, deep stories, great characters and a lot of tactical combat. RPGs have evolved over time, and today we rarely see such complex and rewarding releases. Pillars Of Eternity is here to change that.
Starting out life as a crowdfunding project, Pillars Of Eternity is a clear love letter to the retro school of RPG creation, both in its style and execution. There’s no need for cutting-edge visuals or modern gimmicks here. What we have is an RPG that gets its inspiration and design from the greats, emulating the brilliant Infinity RPGs of the past.
Like these games, Pillars features a game world rendered in 2D, with meticulously detailed environments, and the characters, NPCs and enemies are all 3D models. This mixture of of 2D and 3D works well, and it successfully reproduces the visual style of its predecessors. Gameplay is also similar, with the RTS-style point-and-click control letting you command single or multiple characters at once. Combat features a pause option, which lets you carefully plan your next actions, choosing who does what, the spells you’ll be slinging, and other moves, such as special abilities. It’s all instantly familiar to any PC RPG veteran, although for those new to the genre, it could be a little daunting, with plenty of sub menus, icons and stats to get your head around. Thankfully, there are constant tutorial messages that help guide you through the basics, even if they do get in the way of the action from time to time. Combat is easy, and the menu system, while complex, isn’t that hard to get used to. A little bit of streamlining and more user-friendly design wouldn’t have gone amiss, though.
Pillar Of Eternity tells its story via in-game dialogue mixed with fantasy novel-style descriptive text and still image story boards, and while this is adequate and, in today’s CG-loaded market, different, it’s also a little twee, and many may expect a lot more spectacle from an RPG. The thing is, Pillars Of Eternity isn’t about that. It’s a not a bleeding-edge RPG with amazing graphics and real-time combat; it’s all about the classic RPG feel, and in this regard, it’s one of the most surprising RPGs I’ve played in a long time.
It’s truly refreshing to play an RPG that doesn’t try to wow you with tech or shovel in the latest expected tropes, but instead focuses on story and a deep role playing system, the kind we’ve not seen much of for years. Is it as good as the classic RPGs it’s trying to emulate? No, not quite, but it has a very respectable try, and the result is a game we have to wholeheartedly recommend to long-time RPG fans.
Selivers a solid and enjoyable adventure.