*Note! I will be streaming Wrath of the Righteous on my Twitch channel starting the 2ed of September! Drop by and say hello!*
Well, it has been a hot minute since I got myself a scroll of Planeshift and told you all about a trip to another world. So dust off the realm striding boots, we are going to Golarion. Where to start? For those that are new here, I don’t do reviews much anymore. But this is a first look, so it doesn’t count. So this here is Pathfinder: Wrath of the Righteous. The game Pathfinder is a Roleplaying Game, that was born from the third edition of Dungeons and Dragons. Own by the games company Paizo, they have made the system their own.
Owlcat Games is a computer games company that got the licence to make some Pathfinder titles as CRPGS. They already proved their chops with the epic Pathfinder: Kingmaker. Kingmaker was released in 2018, and when I call it an epic, I mean it. I just finished a playthrough of it on my Twitch channel, and it took me nearly 200 hours. And now they are starting on Wrath of the Righteous.
WotR is not a sequel, but another story set in the same world. You may see some familiar faces and see curious bits of lore relating to the previous game. It is unlikely that you will miss anything in WotR if you had not played Kingmaker, so newcomers should be safe. Note I say unlikely because, honestly, I don’t know for sure. This is not going to be a quick trip to the sinmarket, this is a campaign of mythic proportions.
Full disclosure on a few parts. I have only played roughly 20 hours of the story so far. I did get a copy of this game from Owlcat. And I am a huge fan of the WotR setting. Like Kingmaker before it, WotR started as a set of modules taking a group of characters from level 1 to 20. I am still actively playing the module, and my gaming table is on the final book of the series. So I am playing this video game version and am very curious about what is the same, and what is different.
There. All that boring extra-long preamble is done. Let us get this party started!
A Brand new Bag (of holding)
You find yourself in a ten by ten room. There are piles of books. As you casually leaf through them you are ambushed by a wandering game developer. Owlcat Games cast Choice Paralysis on you. Give me a willpower save.
I was thrilled to see so many options for character classes included. Many of them are favourites of mine from the tabletop game. There are 25 base classes. Each of these classes has 6 or 7 archetypes. Archetypes modify the base class, sometimes in a minor way, sometimes dramatically. Each of them has a different flavour and playstyle. All told, players will have over 180 class choices available to them. That is a staggering number.
Add in over 40 different variants of the 12 races, that is a pile of choices to have.
But wait. There is more. Animal companions have gotten a leg up, and mounts have been added. For my review game, I played an Iron Soul Oread. Coal is a Cavalier Beast Rider and a member of the ever boastful order of the Cockatrice. I know you are wondering, what does a big metal guy ride? Well, it took a while for Grimjaw to grow up large enough to ride him into battle, but how could I say no to having an armoured centipede.
Animal pals are lots of fun in this game, be it a regular horse or something like a velociraptor, players get a great deal of control in guiding the abilities of their companions. Grimjaw took the bulwark companion archetype. This gives him some defensive perks. With the barding you can find, magical items specifically made for animal friends, and the fact your companions now have different item slots available to use, animal pals sure have gotten a shot in the arm.
As the WotR progresses you will get access to strange powers called ‘Mythic abilities’. Of this was, I was most concerned. I was unsure how the rules would translate. The main difference between the tabletop version and the CRPG is the narrative focus. In tabletop, it is a story about a group of heroes, each of them a unique mythic entity, with a special background reflecting it. Contrary to that, the CRPG focuses on your main character as the source of all things Mythic. Without your character, the rest of the party are just average dopes.
Owlcat has made their version of what it means to be Mythic and rewritten the story in parts to accommodate that vision. I honestly thought I would hate it because it strayed so far from the story I knew. But then after 10 hours became 20 – I knew I was hooked. WotR has enough familiar character abilities and plot points to keep my fanboy interest focused. However, it was also different enough that it surprised me. Seriously, gasped in horror and delight at the different twist.
The Angelic Choir
Past readers of my reviews will know I can’t go without commenting on audio quality. Voice acting, ambient noises, action sounds like spell casting, and of course, musical scores are so important with video games. I would say even more so in a CRPG. There is a reason that RPG players spend hours finding scores of music to complement their campaigns. Why they rehearse voices for memorable characters, and that is to set the mood. And with the lack of physical dice rolling and other players, audio cues are the main way to draw a player in and set the mood in a CRPG.
I can say, 100% as a person who is actively playing the pen and paper version of this game, the audio is spot on. It is like they stole the character voices right out of my head in some places. And the music, epic, dramatic, and gorgeous. If you don’t feel like picking up a sword and stabbing some demons with this soundtrack playing, you are obviously a Deskarian spy. That is the only explanation.
Kingmaker was a beautiful game. Wrath of the Righteous takes the art design to a new level. Drezen is an important city in the game, and to see it in such amazing detail gives me the shivers. The maps of the game range in size, but whether small or sprawling, they are detailed – and many of them multitiered. Revisiting so many iconic locations makes me super excited when I can finally show my gaming group the CRPG version of our old stomping grounds.
A New Order
While these will seem like small changes to some, as someone just finishing the endeavour that is Kingmaker, I can’t tell you how big of a difference they will make.
First, the absolute biggest thing. Something that completely changes the way I deploy my spellcasters. Casters now have the option to dismiss ongoing effects. Hungry Pits? Grease? No longer will these troublesome and sometimes deadly effects cause us problems. Previously, if I dropped a Hungry Pit to deal with some enemies, but it was also blocking the way in a dungeon, I would have to sit and twiddle my thumbs until it went away – and that could be a while. Sometimes resting was a better option than waiting, because our buff spells would have expired before the offending pit trap would leave anyway. This is a huge game-changer and a feature I wanted most of the way through the previous game.
Speaking of resting – camp rules have changed. In the previous game, rations were tracked diligently, hunting parties would be sent out, and running out of supplies was a real danger. They have removed that. Now, you are limited only by what time you wish to spend resting. The enemy does not sit idle and eventually will move against you. Yes, the passage of time is the only thing to worry about. Well, time and the corrupting influences of the Abyss seeping through the Worldwound slowly driving mortals mad. Corruption is a thing to worry about, and if you rest outside safe zones too long. It is a problem.
Getting rid of corruption is as easy as getting rid of other major afflictions, rest at your headquarters. But for long battles, drawn-out sieges, or just remote adventures that take you far from home, that may not be an option. As corruption grows it will inflict a variety of woes on your party. Thankfully there is a new camp job that can help lessen the gain of corruption.
Also new is the ability to scribe scrolls and brew your potions. We are slowly getting more item creation in the Owlcat games! I look forward to the day when we are crafting our own weapons and wearables. This looks like a strong step in that direction.
Finally, the Kingdom management of Kingmaker has fallen away to the Crusade management system. You will now need to recruit troops, send entire armies off to war, fend off demonic raids, and decide how you will run the 5th Crusade. You will form councils, deal with problems from within and without. And of course, you will be able to handle some issues with Mythic panache.
Full disclosure. Remember when I said I had only played 20 hours of the story? Well, that has changed. This little write-up took longer than expected because I kept getting distracted with wanting to play more with my big rocky bug rider. I am sitting at 40 hours now, and I am struggling against the temptation to procrastinate more and get back to playing.
I am expecting this tale to take me at least 120 hours. Likely more the way I play. I feel the replay value is going to be high. It seems that each Mythic path impacts the story dramatically and gives you different things to do – and ways to deal with problems. I could stay lost in this game for ages. Seeing Horgus, Sosiel, the Tirabades and so many other NPCs who have been friends and foils to my tabletop group over the years was heartening. Owlcat has, with care and diligence, brought them to the CRPG realm, and as a fan, I couldn’t be happier.