Review: Ken Follett’s The Pillars of the Earth Book 1
Title: Ken Follett’s The Pillars of the Earth
Platform: PC (reviewed)
Developer: Daedalic Entertainment
Publisher: Daedalic Entertainment
Release date: 15th August 2017
Tl;Dr: Daedalic takes on Telltale and does a phenomenal job of it!
Price: Not priced as of writing
Family Focus: Click here for more information.
I just want to start this by saying when I found out I was going to be reviewing this game, I immediately dusted off my old and heavily thumbed copy of Ken Follett’s The Pillars of the Earth, and for good measure, subjected my housemates to the first few episodes of the phenomenal miniseries. Needless to say, I am a fan.
Naturally, I have to warn all reading this, that all premise of an unbiased review has literally been thrown out of the window. I came into this game expecting a faithful adaption of one of my favourite books, oh my goodness, I got all that and more!
Ken Follett’s The Pillars of the Earth is a point and click storytelling game ala-Telltale, but surprisingly, it doesn’t come off as a cheap Telltale clone. The game manages to emulate the best parts of a Telltale experience (great story, memorable characters etc) without falling into some of the tropes seen in more recent endeavours. I also found that playing as multiple characters really does add to the experience; different narrators ensures that characters do not overstay their welcome.
We follow a narrative of four characters, each from a different background, as their lives intertwine through the bloody backdrop of 12th century England. What really fascinates me is that we see events through each character’s perspectives; one thing that perhaps may look completely innocent to one character, can be blown out of proportion by another and turned into something far more sinister.
Thematically, sinister is a good word to use here. To the uninitiated one can be forgiven to think that a story of a cathedral being built would be a dreary, quaint affair. I can assure anyone reading, that the opposite is in fact true. The game begins with a starving family in the middle of a snow covered forest, while their mother dies horribly in childbirth. From then on, things don’t really get much happier. The picture painted of medieval England is an unfair one where life is short, cruel and painful.
Gameplay-wise, it plays out pretty much like a classic Telltale romp, with two glaring omissions that, in my humble opinion, make it stand a cut above the rest. Gone are the quick time event sections (QTEs) and the strange sections that seem to make up every game of its type where the character would literally talk to themselves about the surroundings. I understand why most games of this type do it, but I always found it weird that in the middle of a story, the character would stop and say to themselves out loud “That is a door.”
This has been very neatly circumvented by Daedalic by having those thoughst pop up in literal text when an object is interacted with. It’s simply done, but I feel it is far more effective; it’s done in a way that seems far more organic to the game, players will have to interact multiple times with objects to fully grasp what the character thinks.
Ken Follett’s The Pillars of the Earth is a game I did not know I needed, but now I have it, I am a very happy man. I haven’t been this excited by a game for a long while and I really hold it to Daedalic’s credit that they have crafted something so good! If Book 1 was that good, I simply cannot wait for Book 2!
- Art style is awesome.
- Top notch voice acting.
- Oh my god, this is a game version of The Pillars of the Earth!
- This game is perfect!
Family Focus – Ken Follett’s The Pillars of the Earth
The Pillars of the Earth is rated PEGI 16+/ESRB Rating M for Mature. With foul language, very mature themes, and a mother dying in childbirth right off the bat, this isn’t really a game for kids.
Disclaimer: This review is based on a review code of the game provided by the publisher for the purpose of this review.