The Pillars of the Earth Review
Developed & Published by: Daedalic Entertainment
Release Date: 15th august 2017
Religion. Not a topic that is touched on in the video game industry with many gamers wanting the latest FPS or RPG title released to the masses. Another reason is a rise in Atheism among the younger generation, and anything related to the church being seen as boring. Personally I'm no religious man, but I'm accepting of the fact the there are people who hold their beliefs close to them and are good people. But whether or not you have religious beliefs or not, The Pillars of the Earth is a revealing insight to the way the church worked way back in the 12th Century, with corruption, self serving attitudes and conspiracy. Welcome to Ken Follett's The Pillars of the Earth.
The Pillars of the Earth is an interactive novel based on the 1989 book written by acclaimed author Ken Follett who has written many succcessful books in his illustrious career, with many TV series adaptations based on his work, and now the video game industry has finally capitalised on his work. Being split into a trio of books with future instalments yet to come our way, you can be sure of one thing. This being an engaging and educational insight to the workings of the Church during the 12th Century in Kingsbridge.
Your story begins with Tom Builder and his family, during a cold, harsh and unforgiving winter. Without a home and wandering the land in a desperate attempt to survive. Hope is nothing more than a dream for a man who wants only the best for his suffering loved ones. Before he can realise his dreams however, tragedy will inevitably strike him like a lightning bolt and his world is turned upside down.
Nearby, a couple of outlaws dwell as they hide from the prying eyes of civilisation. Living off the land and caring for themselves. Untrusting and suspicious of everyone the meet, with a deep rooted cynicism towards religion, monks and the Church in general. Now we are quickly introduced to young Jack and his mother. Totally unaware of how their lives will become intertwined with Tom Builder in the near future.
Last of all the playable characters that we are to meet is Phillip of Gwynedd. A humble, mild mannered and good natured monk who just wants what is best for everyone. From the Cathedral repairs, to feeding the poor and all the way to spreading the word of God.
Three stories centred around 3 unique individuals who's actions have ramifications for one another during your playthrough will serve up more than just a quick run through the first instalment of the book. Other characters play a pivotal role, each with their own personalities and agendas to further their own ambitions and greed.
As with other episodic releases that have graced the Xbox One in recent years, The Pillars of the Earth plays in a similar fashion, albeit without many QTE's. Exploration and interaction with people and the environment instead takes priority as you search for work to keep Tom and his family, a family for Jack, and God's plan for Phillip. Choices must be decided upon, corruption fought against along your paths.
As far as the story goes, the depth of knowledge of Theology in the 12th Century, shows a deep understanding of life and the troubles that people would have had to endure. Cities and towns of today did not exist like they did 800 years ago, and this is shown throughout with Kingsbridge being bereft of little more than a small village outside the Cathedral and its surrounding walls. The Earl's keep and the King's castle. Aside from this, you are treated to a cold harsh winter environment that transcends to spring as your journey reaches its end.
Even though the topic of religion may not be of a concern or interest to you, The Pillars of the Earth must be played. Exceptionally well written, and made more noticeable by the fantastic voice acting, the story will grab you by the hand and lead you deep into the lives of memorable fictional characters. A thoroughly enjoyable experience and one that must not be missed.
As an interactive graphic novel, you won't get the AAA treatment, but that's not to say that the visuals are of a poor standard. It's exactly how you would expect artwork to look like if Ken Follett's novels came with pictures. Every scene given plenty of detail to depict the tough lifestyle people had to live. Even down to costumes.
No roaring soundtrack, no guitar riffs. Obviously. But what we do get is subtle and a haunting background choir. String instrumentals litter gameplay at critical moments. All in all, a fantastic effort here that suits the mood of the game when necessary.
It's an interactive novel first, then a game. Yes you will see much in the way of interaction with the various characters but that's not to say you won't have to physically perform any actions. These are kept to a minimum to allow the story to progress at a suitable pace.
Value for Money
At £31.99, you may be wondering if that's over priced, but this is the price for all 3 books. So you are purchasing a season pass. The quality of the writing and voice acting justify the price.
Some multiple choice, some you will require you to perform certain actions and interactions with others. Plenty to keep you occupied even if they are ambiguous. But unlike other episodic games which offer up just 200g per episode, here we have the chance to earn 1000g for the first episode. Nothing to hard on offer though.
TellTale may have started off the revolution of episodic gaming, but now Daedalic have entered the mix and in my humble opinion have blown away the opposition. Even if you don't have an interest in religion, I highly recommend making that purchase. As for down sides go, I honestly cannot single out anything I think is bad about my experience.