Let’s make this clear off the bat, Pathfinder: Kingmaker is NOT just the name of a skin for a robot character in Apex Legends. Okay good?
With that all worked out I can tell you Pathmaker: Kingfinder is a fairly fun little RPG title giving a strong Diablo/Baldurs gate vibe. Pathfinder comes in hot with a very D&D outlook on adventure, starting you off with a character sheet and the guidance of a seemingly drunk and bitter Dungeon master who doesn’t fancy telling you the rules of this universe they’re crafting in front of you.
It could be infuriating if it was on the table top, but in the game, you just knuckle down and make your character to start their journey on the path to kingliness. To their credit devs Owlcat have made a failed impressive and in-depth character creator which lends itself well to the D&D comparison I’ve just made, I took a little while before I crafted myself a rather chucky gent with a penchant for swinging swords (not axes! I know I was shocked too).
The slight snag I had at the start is that this title doesn’t really care if you’re new to it, as you are bombarded with information and mechanics before you even leave the stat screens. I struggle to comprehend what was happening and just hoped my little lad would be able to swing a sword the right way when I got down to fighting. I didn’t have time to worry about these niggling worries though as I needed to get around to the act of ruling. The kingmaker part of the title isn’t just for show, the man goal is to get yourself out there and become the king! I needed to get out there and oust the badniks from my land and make them my own, to govern peacefully of course…
I took to the land ready to stick my sword in whatever so happened to cross my path, the combat is overall what you expect from most top down real time RPGs, waves of foes appear, and you biff them till they explode and give you stuff. Nothing surprising there, the changes come from your leadership, during combat you can pause the action to issue commands to your followers, because that’s what heroes do. It’s a strange feature in a title like this and took a little bit of getting used too, I was always aiming to do it all alone and I sometimes forgot about the squad there to back me up! My team of fantasy bros were all very helpful and unique in their ways after I finally started using them and I found giving them orders to be quite clear and intuitive, though still a little jarring mid fight.
Unlike a lot of fantasy games there is actually a time limit here too, unlike a lot of titles where our hero can ignore the fate of the world in exchange for just messing around fishing or grinding constantly respawning spiders, stopping to story to go off and do something else will actually take away your time to complete other objectives! If you want to be king, you better have some god damn time management skills!
After I reclaimed enough land to open up the bigger map, I was made a Baron, and in the immortal words of Uncle Ben “With great power comes great responsibility” and just like that I was playing a town management game instead of a fantasy RPG, I was taken from my sword wielding ways and plonked in an office to decide where the new stables should be. Bit of a change of pace and confusing to say the least but whatever, I was still having a good time as I used my newfound power to try and make things better for my people, but that’s the snag… I realised I didn’t care about any of these people.
World building is a huge part of any fantasy title, and here the Devs seem to have confused world building with, catastrophic lore dumps. Every new companion or side character would spin me their life story with absolutely no prompting with text boxes galore until I slowly started to plan how to let raiders and slavers into their village and let them be taken away. I know some people LOVE some lore, and so do I but not when it is presented like this, its just thrown a you in hard to swallow lumps which you have no interest in. I made the comparison to a drunk DM earlier and this is about the sum of it, this dude/game wants to spend all his time telling me how HIS world works, rather than just let me live inside it.
Pathfinder: Kingmaker gets a 6/10 from me.