We take a closer look at Daedalic’s adventure game in the Ken Follet’s The Pillars of the Earth review, coming to Switch.
Released in 2017 for the first time, Ken Follett’s The Pillars of the Earth, the episodic adventure game, has finally come to Nintendo Switch consoles. Based on Ken Follett’s historical novel The Story of a Cathedral, let’s take a look at how the Switch version of The Pillars of the Earth turned out.
In Pursuit of Dreams: The Pillars of the Earth review
Set in the 12th century, during what is known as England’s Period of Anarchy. In a time of turmoil due to the struggle for the throne, the people, worn out by political fights and wars, are going through hard times. In the opening sequence, we see Tom and his family migrating with the dream of building a cathedral, and we dive into the story with a short but impressive introduction.
In the game, you control multiple characters and get the chance to see the state of the country through the environment and location of each character. Set in the fictional town of Kingsbridge in England, the game follows the adventure of a group of people who are trying to rebuild the town’s damaged cathedral, while we are caught in the middle of the ongoing war and the political tensions in the background, which we are inevitably a part of.
The characters we control have very different personalities. You wouldn’t expect a monk and someone from a noble family to have similar characters, the presentation of the stories is quite good, the dialogues between the characters, the events that take place and the effects of historical events on our characters are quite good.
Ken Follett’s The Pillars of the Earth is based on a book, and there’s even a miniseries, so you might wonder what else the game can give me. The great thing about the game is that you can intervene in the events that take place, change the outcome and reach different endings. I’ll say from the beginning that the story of the book was quite good, and in the game, completing the main story the way it should be done is the best experience. Still, most of the things that you think “that could have been different” you can actually bring to life. Most of them, not all of them.
I Miss Adventure Games
Pillars of the Earth has a gameplay similar to old school point & click adventure games. We have different options to interact with points in the environment. You can learn the character’s thoughts about the interaction points, use an item on a point, or talk directly. The puzzles are mostly mini-games like using the items you find on the right people and pressing buttons at the right moments.
One of the most important things that distinguishes the game from traditional point & click adventure games is that we can determine the direction of the story with dialog options and interactions. Our characters can choose from a variety of answers to questions or remain silent. At the end of each chapter, you can see a summary of your actions and quickly review how your character reacted to situations.
The game offers various choices in the story, but in some places you feel that the game is leading you to what it considers to be the “right choice”. This is inevitable since it’s based on a book, and it’s a nice addition to be able to influence and see alternate events, but the main story is fine, so I’m not complaining too much.
Pillars of the Earth is actually a game designed to be played with a keyboard and mouse, it’s a very comfortable system to mouse over and control the places you can interact with. Since I’ve only played the game on the PC platform before, this is the first time I’ve had the chance to experience how they’ve adjusted the gameplay in the console versions on Nintendo Switch.
I’m so used to playing adventure games with a keyboard and mouse that I couldn’t warm up to the controls for a while. They’re actually not that bad and you can play easily once you get used to them, but I would have been happier if it used the Switch’s touchscreen. There were some moments where I couldn’t interact because I wasn’t standing in the right spot. Luckily there’s a button that shows the interaction points, so you can check in front of you so you don’t miss them.
My biggest complaint about the game is that the slowness of the characters. In adventure games, I’m used to the main character moving slowly and running fast with double-click, but we usually move in smaller areas that match the movement speed. We sometimes have characters moving slowly in huge areas, even with the run button. We’re already on a political adventure set in a historical timeline, we’re waiting for the setting to slowly build up before the events start. The slowness of the character may cause many players to move away from the game before the interesting parts come.
Novel on a Portable Console
Ken Follett’s The Pillars of the Earth consists of three main parts divided into different chapters. We can consider each of the main parts as a book. When the first part was released, I played the story and loved it so much that I bought the book to see the continuation of the story. It was a great opportunity to play the adventure on the Nintendo Switch console wherever I wanted.
The Nintendo Switch performance of the game is pretty good. Visually it already looks great, the art style is very nice, the levels are hand-drawn scenes. The animations of the characters can be a bit grating in the levels, and there’s a bit of an issue with the synchronization of the mouth movements when speaking, but it’s not too distracting, especially if the game handheld.
Sound and Music
The game does a great job with sound and music. The voices of the characters are well done, the dialogs are good and the music complements the atmosphere and puts you in the mood. There are also a couple of songs that have stuck with me for years, and I’m glad to hear them again. The sound and music are close to perfect.
Ken Follett’s The Pillars of the Earth is a successful adaptation of a great novel based on historical events. Its gameplay, based on solving simple puzzles and talking to other people, may not appeal to everyone. But the Nintendo Switch version of the game, where a great story is presented with successful voice acting and very good looking visuals, gives the player the opportunity to play wherever they want. The pace of the story may be a bit slow, but once things get moving, you’ll find yourself in a 20-hour adventure that you won’t want to put down.
Ken Follett’s The Pillars of the Earth is available on the Nintendo Store with a price tag of $19.99. The Nintendo Switch port of the game is also smoothly made. If you want to continue a great adventure that offers the opportunity to make choices that you can change the course at some points, I can recommend it with peace of mind if you want to continue wherever you want with a portable console.