Our Rating: 8.5/10
Pathfinder: Wrath of the Righteous begins with the creation of our character, just like any other respectable Dungeons & Dragons game, real or virtual. And we can see right away that Owlcat Games holds the Pathfinder rules in high regard. So much so that the uninitiated are likely to be perplexed, if not discouraged, from the start. It is true that dealing with over ten different races and classes, each with its own set of characteristics, is necessary.
Character traits, skills, feats, and even divinity must all be carefully chosen to create a compelling character. Even on the so-called “normal” difficulty, the game will not easily forgive a badly optimized character. After this crucial step is completed, our new character awakens during a festival. We are greeted and cared for by the town guards before joining the festivities; having been injured during our explorations of nearby ruins.
However, the celebrations are cut short when a swarm of demons manages to breach the city’s magical defenses and cause havoc. The army’s commander even manages to kill a dragon tasked with guarding Kenabres with a single blow. Our character escapes by falling into a rift-cut by the victorious Demon Lord’s dreaded scythe, despite his helplessness.
We meet bastards, mutants descended from the first crusaders, in the caves and find survivors who will become our companions. They’re looking for an angelic sword buried in nearby ruins that has the power to save their people and the city above them. This sword had been left inert, waiting for a soul worthy of its blessing to find it. It is by chance, as in any self-respecting high fantasy adventure, that she chooses our character. This discovery, endowed with divine powers, would set in motion a fate worthy of legends for our humble explorer; including the Plague of the World.
Pathfinder: Wrath of the Righteous has already laid the groundwork for a breathtaking campaign with this prologue. Owlcat Games’ new title, which used the same engine as Kingmaker on Unity, has an aging technique. Although it is thinner and has more detailed lighting effects than its predecessor, it pales in comparison to a certain Baldur’s Gate 3 and even has numerous texture bugs. Never mind; he makes up for it by providing a fantastic soundtrack throughout the adventure.
Wars and dice
Return to the surface in the Heart of the Defender tavern after a prologue. This is one of the game’s many headquarters. Here, we can manage our inventory, craft weapons, equipment, and other consumables. You can also chat with a variety of companions and secondary characters to complete many quests.
Owlcat Games spoils us once again with well-written characters and companions with vastly different personalities and goals. In the long run, you’ll have to deal with more than ten potential members of your group. You’ll have to manage them carefully in light of the trials that await you once you leave your temporary haven of peace.
The world map is then introduced, which has previously appeared in Kingmaker and other C-RPGs such as Wasteland 3. We’ll be able to travel to various points of interest. We need this to rid of demons, assist our companions, and recover the loot and valuable resources. Each move will take time. It is not uncommon to encounter both friendly and hostile encounters at random. Wrath of the Righteous, on the other hand, knows how to pique our interest. The game encourages us to investigate the map from top to bottom to improve our chances of winning the Crusade.
Each named location thus presents unique situations. We always look forward to discovering new story elements and magical items to equip our party. Our six heroes will face many challenges on the ground to explore each area. The team will gain experience and level up as a result of their efforts. Managing this central element of the gameplay for a dozen characters will be even more difficult than creating a single character. It is possible to choose automatic leveling up, but we strongly advise against it, especially at higher difficulty levels.
Leveling up: a step as crucial as it is complex.
As many elements as Dungeons & Dragons provide, the majority of the actions are dictated by the roll of the dice, which can be both amusing and frustrating depending on each player’s sensitivity to the random.
However, once you receive a helping hand, the fights become particularly enjoyable; despite their severe lack of verticality, and their difficulty will continue to rise. Unfortunately, some bugs, such as a fickle camera or our strawberry characters’ pathfinding in doorways, taint the experience.
To unlock our characters or remove penalties, we had to reload previous parts or even relaunch the game. Another element that proves to be quite harmful is a clumsy, unintuitive interface. Navigating the menus and the combat interface can become quite tedious as you accumulate skills and items.
Our heroes may be weakened by penalties imposed by our enemies or simply by exhaustion during their travels and adventures. Spellcasters, likewise, will require rest to reclaim slots that have been used. So we must rest for a few hours, preferably at our headquarters, but if that is not possible, on-site.
A well-balanced group will be essential in any case. Turns of the guard must be taken, the camp must be hidden, a meal must be prepared, and a rite of protection must be performed. The proximity to the Plague of the World does introduce a Corruption of the Abyss mechanism. If not purified, threatens to severely punish our group.
The game’s most important and difficult part is undoubtedly the end-of-act events. You’ll have to wait several hours to see the end of it. You’ll be in endless battles that will put your tactical sense and nerves to the test. We will have to make difficult decisions at the end of each Act that will shape your character, your group, and your story for the rest of your life.
Pathfinder: Wrath of the Righteous, like a well-oiled machine in Kingmaker, provides us with dialogue that is flawlessly written, if a little too long at times. Similarly, rolls associated with specific characteristics will allow you to obtain specific dialogue options based on our group’s characteristics. If our character, for example, isn’t particularly eloquent, we’ll need to find a companion who can make up for it.
The dialogues and other narrated elements frequently present us with difficult moral dilemmas. Should we make a few sacrifices to save thousands of people? How far must you go to win? Is the cost of our soul a small price to pay for our goals? So many questions to which the player alone has the answer; often at a terrible cost that you must pay.
By introducing the Mythic Way, Pathfinder: Wrath of the Righteous allows itself an ambitious rise in comparison to its elder. To be clear, these are Pathfinder-specific rules in which characters interact with neither more nor less than divine and mythological beings. Our character will be confronted with choices related to his Mythic Path on several occasions, surrounded by the power of the angelic sword he recovered at the start of the story. As a result, the Mythical Path we choose will have a significant impact on the outcome of our quests.
In addition to our adventures with our loyal companions, Owlcat Games has trained us to lead armies and defend provinces with Kingmaker. Fans of Total War games, in particular, should appreciate this. So that our group can progress in their more personal quest, we’ll have to send armies to defeat demon bones at some point.
Using a dedicated sub-menu, you’ll be able to manage troops, recruit units, and move them around the campaign map. To do so, we’ll need to gather resources, conquer towns, and keep troop morale high so they can fight in the best possible conditions.
In a C-RPG, this is a mechanic that can be frustrating at first, and it will take some practice and patience to master. Our armies can move on the map for several days, and recruiting new troops takes a week. These will also appear far from the front lines, requiring them to devote time to the war effort. As our armies advance, we will be able to establish new camps, allowing our group to explore the surroundings without having to risk camping under the corrupting stars too frequently.
Our troops can take many different forms, and new units can be added to our ranks as a result of key decisions made throughout the adventure. It will be necessary to assign a senior officer to them to make them more effective. These, like the members of our group, have their character sheet, albeit one that is far less complicated.
We’ll be able to create a variety of armies with clearly defined strengths and weaknesses, and their commander will gain levels as he wins battles. Each battle will also serve as an opportunity to gather various campaign resources as well as magical equipment for our heroes.
Our troops, however, are not the only ones fighting in this crusade. Armies of demons may attack our outposts and even the cities we command. It will be up to us to respond and, at times, make terrible sacrifices, even if it means jeopardizing our economy and troop morale, as well as the fate of the Plague of the World.
You’ll notice that Wrath of the Righteous borrows heavily from Kingmaker. It would be a crime to reduce it to a simple extension, however, because the title is rich in content. The new Owlcat Games title presents itself as an excellent C-RPG, with its legendary long-term history, the most faithful possible application of the Pathfinder rules in video game format, and well-oiled mechanics.
A game that will not appeal to everyone, especially those unfamiliar with the Dungeons & Dragons universe and rules, or those who are allergic to games that require a significant investment of both tactical sense and time. Pathfinder: Wrath of the Righteous makes a few technical mistakes as well. It’s a little older in terms of graphics, and it’s still has a slew of bugs, as well as a clumsy user interface.
Regardless of these concerns, which should be addressed in the future, fans of Kingmaker or Dungeons & Dragons will find Wrath of the Righteous to be a high-flying adventure, and mini-mixers will have hours of fun ahead of them once again. Owlcat Games gives us a truly epic and generous adventure, critical acclaim once again.
Pathfinder: Wrath of the Righteous, the worthy successor to Pathfinder: Kingmaker, checks all the boxes for a fantastic follow-up. More epic, more mature, the game immerses us in a simple Mythical adventure that immerses us in the Dungeons & Dragons role-playing video game. Even if it still lacks a satisfying conclusion, this game has all the makings of a new C-RPG standard.