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Review: Ken Follett's The Pillars of the Earth: Book Two (Xbox One)By Insanoflex At 05.05.2018 18:52

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With Book Two of Ken Folllett's The Pillars of the Earth adventure game series, some time has passed since the first book. Characters are a bit older, things are about to get bleaker, and cathedrals are getting built... very slowly. As a matter of fact, things begin moving agonisingly slow for quite a bit as characters are re-introduced and plot elements get re-established. Pacing throughout is a lot more meandering this time due to the more open-ended structure of the game design. The first book had a strong, driving plot that had things happening. For quite a while, Book Two lets users loose and lets them take a ton of atmosphere with little direction. It is clear why Daedalic's designers would opt for this pacing: it is to possibly give the impression of mundane day-to-day life in these medieval times. A blessing and a curse; this is refreshing but those eager to continue the story might lose some patience as they get caught up is some side-quests.

All the playable characters from Book One make their return. Jack Jackson, the wild child, is now the wild man; seemingly as an almost different character now that so many years have passed. Lady Aliena returns, and much like in Book One, she is the least interesting in this story of very rich characters. It is hard to make her a compelling figure like Prior Phillip, since he is by far the most complex and interesting persona in the plot. Phillip is a man of God who is deeply flawed and is pushed to his limits, constantly. His faith is put to the test, seemingly every day and seeing this poor soul get tormented by the circumstances is the true soul of The Pillars of the Earth. His story is very human and, at times, utterly tragic as the pace finally picks up and Book Two gets really good. These games have very limited animations, but the voice actor for Phillip is truly electric and is completely convincing that the performance transcends the restrictions of the animators.

Book Two is very much consistent with the first part. There is the same level of artistry in the backgrounds and designs that makes this depiction of medieval Europe feel filthy, lived in and completely authentic. Some of the old flaws are still here, like the extensive and frequent load times, or the glitchy Quick-Time Event that does not register inputs accurately. Character path-finding still has that same flickering bug that would happen frequently and the larger areas where they moved slower than a snail with lead shoes. Ken Folllett's The Pillars of the Earth games are unconventional due to just how maturely written they are and how much respect it has for the player and, because of that, this series is worthwhile. Some of the gameplay might be a bit unpolished, but anyone with a passing interest in point-and-click adventure gaming should give this a try.

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Final Score
Anyone who enjoyed [i]Ken Follett's The Pillars of the Earth: Book One[/i] is going to enjoy [i]Book Two[/i]. Outside of continuing the drama, the unusual gameplay mix of open-ended questing and mini-games make this series stand out from typical modern adventure titles. [i]Book Two[/i] has a very old-school approach to this genre and isn't afraid to experiment and not hand-hold all the time. While most adventure games being released during this generation are borderline movies, it is refreshing that this series still manages to embrace the videogame medium, while still managing to tell a coherent and serious story.

7

/10

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