Review: Kingdom Come Deliverance: Royal Edition (Switch)

Kingdom Come Deliverance: Royal Edition Review - Screenshot 1 of 6
Captured on Nintendo Switch (Docked)

Set in the 15th century and taking place in the tumultuous land of Bohemia, Kingdom Come Deliverance follows the exploits of nice-but-dim blacksmith’s son Henry. Struggling through the political and religious machinations of the lords and ladies around him, he seeks to avenge the death of his family and find a place in the world. But first, he needs to learn how to use a sword…

One of the very first tasks in Warhorse Studios’ epic RPG is to collect a debt from a lowly drunkard. After a short intro to dialogue choices, you proceed to confidently throw hands with the peasant. After being roundly beaten within an inch of your life, you limp off to mother to get fixed up. It’s an appropriate intro to this gritty journey of bloody revenge. There are many ways to approach a confrontation, it’s going to be a while before violence is the easy option.

Kingdom Come Deliverance: Royal Edition Review - Screenshot 2 of 6
Captured on Nintendo Switch (Docked)

Bohemia is a harsh and unforgiving place, the verdant countryside hides all manner of bandits and corrupt lawmakers. The game wants you to feel how difficult this world is for a common novice because learning to navigate it is a brutal experience.

Right from the start you have to juggle several stats and mechanics, not least the deep and fiddly combat (more on that later). Hunger is ever present, you’ll be grabbing spoonfuls of random camp cooking pots wherever you go, taking care not to overeat. To maintain rapport with the general public you’ll have to bathe frequently, either dunking your head in a trough or getting a proper scrub at a bathhouse. Don’t forget to catch up on shuteye too, because you don’t want to be falling asleep when danger is about. All of these things and more dictate how you affect — and are affected by — the environment around you.

Kingdom Come Deliverance: Royal Edition Review - Screenshot 3 of 6
Captured on Nintendo Switch (Handheld/Undocked)

It’s hard going during the opening hours, but things do gradually start to click. Levelling up occurs organically as you explore and skills are upgraded through use. This encourages exploration and experimentation but also brings further complexity. Skill books are a great way to grab easy progress, but you won’t be able to use them until a scribe teaches you how to read. Herbalism can be a good early-game boost to survivability, but the process of actually crafting concoctions via alchemy is a whole game unto itself. Thankfully a perk system offers ways to shape a playstyle around your shortcomings, and there are many permutations of character build to try.

Combat is frustrating and rewarding in equal measure. Fighting your way through Bohemia is seldom the smarter choice. Melee attempts to transcribe the feeling of swinging an unwieldy hunk of metal onto a controller. Asked to consider everything from positioning to opponent reaction time, you are given a multi-directional reticule to target an enemy. Which direction you choose with the left stick determines where you swing. Your opponent will almost always meet your swing with a block, so you will have to feint in different directions and string combos together to get the upper hand. If you’d prefer to pick off enemies from a distance, a bow is a fine option, but hitting a bloodthirsty Cumin center mass is about as difficult as real-life archery.

Kingdom Come Deliverance: Royal Edition Review - Screenshot 4 of 6
Captured on Nintendo Switch (Docked)

Thankfully your skills with weaponry can be upgraded too, and many traits change combat from impossible to just plain difficult. As you slowly get a handle on the rhythm of things, the satisfaction felt from taking down a group of enemies without a scratch is unlike anything you’ll experience outside of a Dark Souls game.

As daunting as it feels to scrape through this unforgiving game of thrones, you feel an obligation to look after Henry of Skalitz. Capably played by Tom McKay, our hero is one of the most adorable journeymen to ever set foot in a grand RPG storyline. He begins as a clueless lout, known for getting into fights and shouting political rhetoric down at the tavern. His village is then burned down and his parents slaughtered, sending him on an odyssey of growth and awakening.

As the story progresses and you get to grips with the frequently obtuse systems, Henry grows alongside you. Gathering reputation across the land, NPCs will triumphantly declare, “Henry’s come to see us!” It’s a heartwarming aspect of background progression that slowly but surely enamors you to what Warhorse is trying to do.

Kingdom Come Deliverance: Royal Edition Review - Screenshot 5 of 6
Captured on Nintendo Switch (Handheld/Undocked)

There’s some great character work happening around Henry, too. Radzig is a volatile but benevolent mentor, while mouthy lordling Hans Capon is a charismatic companion. Part of the DLC bundled with this Royal Edition lets you fill the shoes of key female characters, who get some agency outside of being mere romance options.

Most of the people and events in the story come from real history as well, so there’s a nice air of authenticity to the proceedings. This extends to the design as well, the fields and towns of medieval Eastern Europe are intoxicating.

Despite the aforementioned DLC, all of which add worthwhile chunks of story, Kingdom Come makes its transition to Switch in a rocky state. This was never a lavish production to begin with, but the combination of rich environments and stiff NPCs gave it a charm on other formats. Here, the sweeping vistas of Bohemia are blighted by texture pop-in and frequent frame drops. Visual bugs abound, with villagers flying across the sky and many a dialogue scene conducted to the back of someone’s head…or nobody at all. Elsewhere, the narrative sequences highlight a lack of animation and some waxen character models. This is all a lot less noticeable undocked, but it’s a rough ride on a large display. When it’s stable, the potential of the setting is evident, but it is seldom stable.

Kingdom Come Deliverance: Royal Edition Review - Screenshot 6 of 6
Captured on Nintendo Switch (Handheld/Undocked)

There were also some infrequent crashes, frustrating in a game where checkpointing is rare and manual saves are tied to a consumable.

Yet for all its visual flaws and painful learning spikes, Henry’s journey is still a compelling one. Mastering each one of its systems brings with it a sense of accomplishment missing in most modern RPGs. It doesn’t hold your hand or shower you with easy upgrades, you work for every scrap of progress. Kingdom Come lets you navigate challenges however you want, any build is viable. All encounters can be approached in multiple ways and Henry is free to be as noble or villainous as you desire.


If you give yourself over to Warhorse’s muddy opus, it will reward you with a hundred hours of grueling and enjoyable trial and error. It’s buggy and rough around the edges on Switch, but Kingdom Come Deliverance is a singular RPG experience. The pacing and constant juggling of mechanics is not for everyone, but invest the time and you’ll experience an engrossing, grounded adventure.

Related Articles

Back to top button