What is Pillars of Eternity?
Set in the land of Eora, Pillars of Eternity is a fantasy role playing game with an old school vibe. Played from an isometric perspective, you'll venture into a world in which a mysterious condition has been affecting most newborn children. Known as "hollowborns", these children are being born without a soul - and no one is quite sure why. As a "Watcher", someone who can communicate with people's souls, and relive their past lives, it's up to you to solve the mystery of the hollowborns, and restore peace to the land.
How do you play Pillars of Eternity?
Pillars of Eternity is a game of quests, choices and combat, with a new task, a new lead, and a new adventure around every corner. From the main story quest, as you travel the world to try and get to the bottom of the "hollowborn" issue, to helping out the many residents of Eora with their complex issues and problems, there's many a tough choice to be made, as you so often find yourself a mediator in morally grey disputes. Whether you're avenging a soul you found in a cave, who'd been stabbed in the back by a man who was supposed to be his friend; trying to placate a group of hungry farmers, who think the mill's owner is hiding the best grain; or helping a desperate pregnant lady track down a midwife who's rumoured to know how to ensure her baby won't be hollowborn, there's a huge range of quests to get stuck into, and many a moral quandary.
While some conflicts can be avoided depending on your character's class and stats (some dialogue options let you use your might to intimidate angry foes, or intellect to outsmart them), not all battles are avoidable - and so you'll need to be able to handle yourself in a fight as well. Combat in Pillars of Eternity is technically turn based, yet plays out in real time, with the game encouraging you to pause to issue orders to your team mates when you want to change your strategy. While you'll need to choose what your character does, your team mates will attack automatically using a pre-set "script", which you can choose to edit. With the game automatically pausing should one of your team mates get into trouble, the combat is a lot easier to get into than you may expect - especially on the easier difficulties.
How easy is Pillars of Eternity to pick up and play?
Aimed at experienced players, Pillars of Eternity is a game with many layers, and a complex fantasy world to explore. While the combat itself may be fairly straightforward, the game's use of two different health pools (you have a bar for your health, and a bar for your endurance, with both taking damage in combat), means battles can take a bit of getting used to, until you figure out what each means. On the plus side, there are five different difficulty levels here, with the lowest, "Story Time" biasing battles in the player's favour. At the other end of the scale, Path of the Damned provides a challenge that's every bit as hard as it sounds.
One of the unusual things about Pillars of Eternity is that a lot of the plot is delivered through lengthy text sections, which explain what you're seeing in a vision. With these sections often explaining complex situations without visual cues, you'll sometimes need to read things through a few times to be sure you've caught a critical plot point, especially as you'll often have to use what happened in the visions to progress through the game.
Similarly, with no mini map or objective markers, there's a real demand for intuition and observation, as you'll need find your way around the world on your own, as you try and figure out where you need to go next.
Sample sentences include:
- You stand in a circular room, grand and domed, its walls lined with adra and trimmed with copper.
- The squat, distended body of an elderly dwarf woman dangles from a thin, crooked bough that sags at the tug of her noose.
- You see a pennant waving tall and sluggish in the wind, a rising sun embroidered on the banner, the vanguard of a small troop of paladins. The atmosphere is buoyant, if restrained, and their armour has not yet been tarnished by the elements - this expedition is fresh, young, filled with zest and zeal.
Pillars of Eternity contains strong (yet infrequent) bad language, moderate violence, and moderate sexual references.
While bad language is very infrequent, words like sh*t, p*ss, and f*ck are used in the dialogue
Combat in Pillars of Eternity sees players engage enemies with swords, bows and arrows or magic spells, with enemies giving off moderate (yet often hard to see) blood spurts when hit. Some enemies will sometimes disappear when defeated, turning into two red balls of "gibs", although even this doesn't look that gory. Some areas of the game do depict bloody scenes, however, with blood stained floors, or gory textual description ("An old dwarf woman, whose face has shriveled inwards like moldering fruit", and talk of an arrow piercing a deer's heart and lungs). A dismembered deer is present on one screen, with its insides strewn around it in a pool of blood.
The player can hire prostitutes in the game, although no sexual activity is shown. Other dialogue makes references towards sexual content - "You're itching for the kindling touch of your sister, ye coxfither"
Format Reviewed: PC