PC/Mac; Obsidian Entertainment
The fights are less fearsome, but if you liked Baldur’s Gate or Planescape: Torment you’ll enjoy this retro role-playing game
Pillars of Eternity is an ambitious and successful gamble on role-playing game nostalgia, aimed squarely at people who enjoyed Baldur’s Gate and Planescape: Torment. The first game, released in 2015, brought in $4m in funding on Kickstarter. Its sequel, Deadfire, also raised over $4m in crowdfunding, and has just been released. Unlike its predecessor, Deadfire is arriving into a market with many similar games attempting to leverage 90s RPG nostalgia while adding their own twists to the genre. It doesn’t rock the boat too much, but a fresh theme, clever writing and improvements to the look and feel make it a very enjoyable play.
Speaking of boats, in Deadfire you are a naval explorer: you choose where you go, on land or at sea, and what route you take. Expeditions into the unknown are fun, but each day spent sailing costs resources; as you travel your stores deplete, your crew’s morale fails and you’re soon searching for the next city to resupply. It’s no carefree cruise across the high seas. You spend a lot of time maintaining your ship, exploring the seas and fighting turn-based, choice-driven naval battles – as well as chaotic on-deck battles involving your entire crew. Ship combat can be frustrating when cannons repeatedly miss; and when your ship’s cook charges headlong into a fireball, it is sometimes more of a hassle than swashbuckling fun, especially because injuries from such fights affect your ability to sail.