Kingdom Come: Deliverance draws praise and exasperation in equal measure. Its detailed depiction of life in 15th century Bohemia provokes the full range of reactions; from the wide-eyed “Most Realistic Medieval Simulator EVER!” – to the less enthusiastic “Kingdom Come Deliverance – Monk Simulator is SO BORING!” That the game represents more of a ‘simulator’ than a traditional RPG animates players on both sides of the fence.
Warhorse Studios’ attention to detail is manifest in Kingdom Come’s heavily researched anthologies, absorbing fact files detailing every aspect of medieval life – from farming to fashion. In-game, clothing, architecture and even fighting styles are grounded in historical sources, following a kind of real-world logic not usually present in RPGs. What some admire as precision and historical accuracy strikes others as needlessly pedantic; players expecting to slay a multitude with a few sword strokes are dismayed when they struggle to land a single blow and are easily bested by just one opponent. To succeed in Kingdom Come: Deliverance, you must submit to its rule, learning its complex systems inside-out. In doing so, you come to inhabit a world far removed from your own.
Of course, this world is at best an approximation of medieval Europe, an artist’s impression. No feature of the game reveals this more than its music. Transplanted into feudal Bohemia, Jan Valta and Adam Sporka’s decidedly 21st-century score would flummox kings and peasants alike. What would they make of a symphony orchestra, a roiling mass of alien voices somehow moving as one, emotive but wordless? What of its strange symmetries, its curious repetitions – its huddled pitches, kaleidoscopic, ever contorting into new arrangements? By what yardstick could the people of that age possibly measure such a phenomenon? A storm cloud? A great wave? Would they hear music at all or, fearing a demonic host’s approach, might they arm for battle, or else fall on their knees before the voice of God?