Pillars of Eternity Review: Old School RPG Rocks Hard

rpg pillars of eternity review
Written by Mark Kaelin

It’s an old-school role playing game built for modern hardware — and arguably one of the best RPGs ever. Here’s Mark Kaelin’s Pillars of Eternity review.

aNewDomainmark-kaelin-mark-w-kaelin-anewdomain — For hardcore gamers of a certain age, the computer role playing game (CRPG) holds a special place in our hearts. A good RPG will grab you with a compelling story that takes you on an exotic adventure. In many ways it is like reading a book by your favorite author.

So it is with Pillars of Eternity, an old-school CRPG updated for a modern audience. Here’s my Pillars of Eternity review below.

CRPG rising (again)

Unfortunately for all of us, the CRPG has generally fallen out of favor with game developers and publishers as they look for the next Halo or Call of Duty. But that didn’t stop Obsidian Entertainment from their dream to make Pillars of Eternity.

Execs at Obsidian went directly to the gamers with a KickStarter Project, asking for funding to make their dream a reality.

Over 70,000 backers provided close to $4 million dollars, and Obsidian got the green light for its project. What resulted was a next gen, high-res-image-packed, isometric, party-based CRPG.

Load screen Pillars of Eternity review

Pillars of Eternity: Party-Based, Fantastic Artwork

Pillars of Eternity is an isometric, party-based CRPG — this is the old-school part of the game. For those of you who played games like Planescape: Torment and the Baldur’s Gate series, Pillars of Eternity will seem very familiar.

The modern part of the game comes in the form of better, higher-resolution graphics. The fantastic artwork sets the mood for the game and is one of the highlights you will notice right away. Character screens, inventory screens and even the fonts are updated for higher-resolution capabilities. Reading the on-screen text will no longer strain your eyes, a complaint often heard for this genre in the past.

Story: Excellent voice acting, but side quests make you read the dialogue

And since there is plenty of text to read, readability is very important. The foundation of a good CRPG is the story, and that story is mostly conveyed by text as it is revealed in your interactions with other characters in the game. Pillars of Eternity also includes some excellent voice acting, but most of those sequences involve the main plot. All of the side quests require reading on-screen dialogue.

Character screen

The main plot is dark and a bit disturbing. Without giving too much away, as your character enters the game he/she discovers that children in this part of the world are being born without souls. Hollow-born children have been a problem for years, and the people feel abandoned by the gods and are in despair and searching for the reasons why.

Through happenstance, or perhaps it is fate, you have been given the necessary tools to solve this mystery.

Of course, along the way you will meet characters that can join you on your quest, and each of these potential party members also have quests you can explore. As you progress through each area on the map you will find other characters needing your help. We are talking dozens of side quests and hours upon hours of replay value.

At the Inn

Pillars of Eternity: White March Part 1 — the expansion pack

And Obsidian Entertainment is not done yet. On August 25, 2015, they released the first expansion — Pillars of Eternity: White March Part I. The expansion ($14.99) adds a huge new area to explore with dozens of new quests and a new story about something known as the White Forge. Part II will be available later this year.

Pillars of Eternity is a fantastic RPG and should not be missed by anyone who enjoys this game genre. It compares well to other classic computer RPGs like Planescape: Torment, but adds graphical aspects that make the game playable on modern hardware. Note, the game is rated for a mature audience, so it’s not appropriate for young children.

Have I mentioned the limitless storage for loot, or the fact that you can capture a stronghold, or how dynamic the combat system is? Truth be told, I have barely scratched the surface when it comes to the adventure awaiting players of this game. So, I will offer my best endorsement — you should play Pillars of Eternity, right now.

Video — Pillars of Eternity: The White March – Part I – Release Trailer

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All screenshots: Mark Kaelin