You Can Build Your Own Kingdom and Rule it Like a Jerk in Pathfinder: Kingmaker

You Can Build Your Own Kingdom and Rule it Like a Jerk in Pathfinder: Kingmaker

"'Lawful Good?' We don't like your kind 'round these parts."

Fans of Western RPGs and JRPGs often have differing tastes, but we can generally agree on one thing: A robust town-building feature can elevate any good RPG into a great one.

One reason Suikoden II is so fondly remembered is because you can turn an abandoned castle into a town and gradually fill it with life. Ni No Kuni II is kind of bland, but its town-building feature is one of the best things about the game.

Pathfinder: Kingmaker by Owlcat Games emphasizes exploring and battling monsters as much as any RPG, but players are also expected to put down roots by building a kingdom of their very own. How you build the kingdom, how you run it, and how your citizens react to your civic rule has an impact on the player bonuses you receive. Your engineering can even affect how your city looks, and the inhabitants it attracts.

"How y'all feeling about 'Weed_Vegeta's Ballin Hookah Lounge' for a town name?"

I spent some time with Pathfinder: Kingmaker at PAX West last weekend. It's an isometric RPG based on the Pathfinder franchise, which itself is a spin-off of the third edition of Dungeons & Dragons. Anyone who's therefore played Baldur's Gate should find themselves at home with Pathfinder's combat and character-building.

There are certainly worse inspirations for Owlcat to latch onto—and when you get down to it, most RPGs that spring from the isometric loins of Baldur's Gate typically contain so much depth and diverse gameplay, each one winds up bringing something new to the sub-genre. Pathfinder: Kingmaker is huge and pocked with massive dungeons teeming with loot.

I was intrigued by a confrontation between a handful of Mites (a small goblin-like race) and some reptilian kobolds. The critters were arguing about a theft, or an insult, or possibly both issues. Your choices here are myriad: You can egg the monsters on until they attack one another, you can ally yourself with one side, or you can remain completely neutral. If you're feeling bloodthirsty, you can just slaughter the lot for having the audacity to make so much noise so early in the morning. If you spare them, however, you might find yourself in a position to help them work out the issue that ignited the fight somewhere down the road. These interludes help remind you you're not the only living thing in Pathfinder: Kingmaker, and your grand quest doesn't necessarily mean a thing in the day-to-day struggles of the other races and monsters you meet. It's a big world, but you all need to share it. How generously you share it, however, is up to you.

But it's the aforementioned town-building feature that might really help separate Pathfinder: Kingmaker from its inspirations. I was shown a small town while some of the benefits of building towns were explained to me. Towns add bonuses to your warriors, plus they also contain neat structural and story elements. If a shop is placed close to a tavern, tavern patrons who land in a good mood after three drinks might be compelled to spend more money on whatever you're selling. If you run your town well, you'll be revered by your people and might spot knights and other lawful-good types wandering around your roads. If you decide to rule your town as a shrieky little tyrant, though, your citizens will come to hate you. In time, your rotten behavior might even attract some monster tenants who will do your bidding.

Pathfinder: Kingmaker appears to be a good isometric RPG with a cool town-building feature that reminds you monsters need a place to live, too. Look for it on September 25 on PC, Mac, and Linux.

Sometimes we include links to online retail stores. If you click on one and make a purchase we may receive a small commission. See our terms & conditions.

Nadia Oxford

Staff Writer

Nadia has been writing about games for so long, only the wind and the rain (or the digital facsimiles thereof) remember her true name. She's written for Nerve, About.com, Gamepro, IGN, 1UP, PlayStation Official Magazine, and other sites and magazines that sling words about video games. She co-hosts the Axe of the Blood God podcast, where she mostly screams about Dragon Quest.

Read this next

Axe of the Blood God Reviews Valkyria Chronicles 4 and Talks to Legendary RPG Writer Chris Avellone

AXE OF THE BLOOD GOD | Nadia and Kat sit down to review the triumphant return of Valkyria Chronicles and interview writer Chris Avellone about his latest game.

Yakuza Producer Says Next Game in the Series Could Still Feature Some Familiar Faces

Producer Daisuke Sato details the next Yakuza game, and reflects on Judgment.

The Uncharted Movie Loses Director Number Five

We're getting close to more directors than Uncharted games.

Remnant From The Ashes Classes Guide: Which Class Should You Choose?

There are three classes to choose from in Remnant From the Ashes. Here’s all the info you need to make your choice on which one to play.

Remnant From The Ashes Trait Unlock Guide

There’s a wide selection of Traits to unlock in Remnant From The Ashes. Here’s details on how to unlock each one.

More Analyses

A Fresh Look at New Super Mario Bros. U on Switch: Does it Measure Up to the Classics?

Where does New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe rank alongside Super Mario Bros. 3 and Super Mario World?

The State of Destiny 2 After Forsaken: A Game That Can't Shake Its Troubles

Forsaken was a solid start, but it wasn't enough to pull everyone back.

Sorry Pokemon Fans, Your Gold-Plated Cards from Burger King Aren't Worth Squat

Burger King's Pokemon cards from 1999 look kind of nice and they're fun to remember, but they're barely worth the cost of a milkshake.

More on Mac

Eliza Review

Zachtronics, the developers of puzzle games such as Opus Magnum and Infinifactory, have a new... visual novel?

The Sims 4 Cheats: How to Use Cheats, Cheats List, Money, Relationship Cheats

The Sims 4 is a ton of fun as is, but can be made even better by using Cheats. Here’s a full list of The Sims 4 Cheats.

WoW's Rise of Azshara Patch Points Toward a Potentially Brighter Future

Patch 8.2 experiments with different types of questing zones, in the hopes of finding the future of WoW.

Fan-Made "Mario Royale" is a Blast, For As Long As It Sticks Around

But the creator is anticipating a letter from Nintendo.