Starting in with Pathfinder: Kingmaker, you have to examine its serious and deep digging roots. Let me just take a side note here and say, because this is going to be important to my views of the game, that I've never heard of Pathfinder in its original form, nor do I (unfortunately) play tabletop or pen and paper roleplaying games. The surprise of Pathfinder having a roleplay system that's been developed for ten years was a pleasant one indeed. Suddenly the core of Kingmaker made perfect sense and aside from already enjoying the gameplay, enriched it with a bit of gaming history. From what I understand, the player and fan base of Pathfinder is quite a large and loyal following as well, so it should come to no surprise that when Kingmaker was announced on Kickstarter. It blew the goal out of the water totaling to $909,057 out of it's $500,000 goal.

Interesting tidbits aside, let's take a look further into the game itself. You can choose a premade character with what one would describe as having a balanced sheet or you can customize your own right from the word go. When I say customize, I don't mean choose hair colour or a neat name; Kingmaker takes customization to an extreme that I haven't quite seen before. You can choose alliances, where you stand in your morals (ex. lawful good, chaotic evil) and adjust every attribute of your character's sheet as you see fit. For experienced sheet builders this can only be described as a dream come true: nothing is left to the imagination and you know right from the start how your character will stand in a world before them.

The tutorial is fabulously done, echoing Neverwinter Nights by throwing you right into the thick of the action. After what could be anywhere from five minutes to a half hour spent on creating a character, you're pushed to learn abilities, gentle tactics and other basic game mechanics on the go. The action isn't without a rich narrative as well. In fact, in the light of Kingmaker's many strengths, the story, characters and everything about them is so fantastically written and executed. The voice acting especially is a shining example of the work put in. Character are unique, well read and delivered and even have fun quirks like 'banter' around the camp site as you rest. Some of these details certainly didn't have to be in here, but the eye for the little things is what makes Pathfinder: Kingmaker so darn good.

Battles are a large part of the game, as your character sheet was built for such things. Based on your attributes, your character will roll a die for different instances: whether or not to fight, if you can dismantle a trap...pretty much any action that has a tinge of chance to it. The battles are usually random encounters on a main map. The best part, visually, about this is the board game analogy with the game pieces being the monsters. It's cute and a lovely tip of the hat. Another great thing about Kingmaker's battles is the differing levels at which you can play them. If you put it on easy mode, your party member's AI is so well done, that most of the time you don't have to do much for them to really work for you and it almost turns into a bit of an arcade game. The pacing is not as fast as something like Diablo, but it certainly does move it along a bit quicker. If you tick on something a bit harder, for the hardcore roleplayer, you can find yourself micromanaging every aspect of the fight. I can only imagine how satisfying this can be for some people.

The dialog influences are also a big part of Kingmaker. You start out in the character sheet screen choosing an alliance and just what kind of person your character is. This doesn't mean that they have to stay that way, in fact--the organic flow of decisions will move you around unless you're playing for a certain category. Consequences are fun to see, and Kingmaker doesn't go without really making you feel the weight of those actions. One of the fun bits I thought and a notable mention is that when you're in dialog and making the decision, you'll sometimes see a greyed out option--this is the option you COULD have had if you picked the other side. There's no spoilers as you work your way through either...which makes the replayability more than worth it.

One of the big downsides can also be named as it's crown: the intricacies of the game as a whole. Pathfinder: Kingmaker throws an awful lot at the non-native, and whilst there's a great attempt to get you up to speed if you've never played a game like this before, it's inevitably difficult to do. This could mean that some things are misunderstood, or as your trying to take everything in, simply too much to handle. If you've never played a game like Kingmaker before, or even the original Pathfinder, you might find yourself in a spot of trouble at the beginning. Luckily though, Owlcat Games counts on this and does everything they can to get you up to speed.

Pathfinder: Kingmaker is certainly the king of kings when it comes to roleplaying games brought to a digital platform. You can really feel like this is a title made FOR the fans BY fans. Every bit of it is lovingly handcrafted and it shows. I have to put this down as a highly recommend for all: if you're new to the genre, this is a fantastic place to start. If you're not--boy, are you in for a pleasant surprise. And on native Linux too! A great time for all to be had.