Back in February 2021, I was fortunate enough to look at Pathfinder: Kingmaker. This classic D&D-inspired RPG kept me interested for hours and reminded me of Baldur’s Gate. Furthermore, I loved its lore, excellent storytelling, and its custom options. Accordingly, I gave it a 7 out of 10 as there were bugs and the action was far too difficult. Roll on nearly 18 months, and I get to look at Pathfinder: Wrath of the Righteous. Will this newer iteration be more of the same, or will it evolve from its predecessor?
Developed by Owlcat Games and published by META publishing, this is a CRPG with a rich investment in D&D mechanics. Furthermore, it oozes fantasy tropes, has masses of characters to interact with, and there are many evil overlords and crazy creatures to encounter. In short, it takes on the classic OTT RPG story and ups the ante by about 30%. Therefore, if you are planning to tackle this 80+ hour monster, you better get yourself prepared for an epic trip.
Pathfinder: Wrath of the Righteous feels familiar.
Though no prior knowledge is needed, it certainly helps during the opening stages. However, if you haven’t touched this franchise, you’ll enjoy a thorough tutorial that talks you through the masses of fundamentals that need to be mastered. Sadly, though, if you are a fan, every element feels familiar, and there is a distinct element of Déjà vu. Now, this isn’t a bad thing per se, but having invested many hours in its predecessor, I was hoping for a fresh style and look. Instead, you get more of the same, but with a modern polish.
The game revolves around a hero who is the commander of the Fifth Crusade against the Worldwound. This dark place is a rift between reality and a demonic abyss filled with ungodly creatures. In these depths, there are unmentionable creatures that love to inflict pain on anyone or anything that dares to trespass. However, your band of heroes must cross that void if they are to complete whatever mission they undertake.
As you can see, it is a hearty story that instantly screams drama, danger, and death. Consequently, it grabs you from the off, and you’ll enjoy the meaty data dump, text-heavy story, and the constant flux and change of your characters as the story progresses. Furthermore, there are some excellent combat mechanics, plenty of weird creatures, and so many custom options that I lost count.
So many choices.
In standard CRPG practice, Pathfinder: Wrath of the Righteous treats you to an eye-opening level of custom options. Subsequently, as the game opens, you are treated to no more than 25 classes and 12 races. This mind-boggling amount of information leaves you feeling dizzy, but once you clamber through the mountains of stats, information, and character models, you are chucked into a pretty standard-looking fantasy world.
Fans of the genre will feel right at home with the isometric viewpoint, easy-to-navigate UI, and party management screens. Furthermore, the choice of turn-based combat or an out-of-control real-time affair won’t feel too dissimilar to its peers. Regarding combat, I loved how each option can be changed on the fly. This was particularly key when battles got out of hand. Now, no matter how much experience you have, Pathfinder: Wrath of the Righteous has the ability to keep you on the back foot. Accordingly, you’re going to want to slow things down now and then.
An ever-evolving story.
Another great element of this title is its consequential decision mechanics. Every choice has a positive and negative outcome. Sometimes, you even get something in between. As such, you never quite know where the game is going to go, or if you are doing the right thing. Therefore, will your actions be the catalyst for something great and life-changing, or will you curse yourself and alienate your party from a particular race or group of people?
Alongside the branching storyline is your ability to command a vast army. This portion of the gameplay moves away from the classic isometric viewpoint to a more traditional overworld map. Here, you can choose to expand your territories, establish new outposts, or help the crusade. Each of your armies will march along set paths where they will fight your enemies, capture new buildings, and push back the demonic hordes.
In theory, this area of the game should have been great, but in reality, it is a bit of a time sink that never pushes you. Unlike Total War, Pathfinder: Wrath of the Righteous isn’t refined enough, nor does it have that eye-catching detail. Instead, it does an average job of delivering a war simulation without the tasty and addictive moments. Consequently, you’ll enjoy what you experience, but you’ll be begging for so much more.
Pathfinder: Wrath of the Righteous looks great.
Pathfinder: Wrath of the Righteous is reported to be full of bugs and issues. However, I rarely ran into anything serious or game-breaking. Instead, in my experience, the issues were silly, and often humorous. I discovered enemies that would levitate or clip the scenery, spells that were a damp squib, and the occasional rip and tear with the backdrop. Thankfully, though, this was the extent of my problems. Furthermore, the developers are pretty hot on rectifying any problems, so expect regular updates as things are sorted out.
Visually, this is a dark and seedy title that has a classic CRPG style. I adored the blend of the overworld and isometric viewpoints, and I loved the character models as well. On top of this, the spark of magic, the excellent monsters, and the animation were all enjoyable and better than its predecessor.
The audio delivers a deep and rich sound that enhances the fantasy setting. With partial voice acting and some great sound effects, this does a great job of holding your attention. Furthermore, the soundtrack encompasses each dramatic moment with ease. Whether it was an upbeat and energetic battle cry or a sinister and dramatic song, it all worked perfectly.
It plays well on console.
Having ported this from PC, I expected it to play horribly with a controller. However, I was wrong! Thanks to the excellent UI and radial menus, you can navigate much of the action with ease. Furthermore, the fantastic tutorial sets you up in no time at all. This is also helped by the two combat approaches and the free-to-move camera. With the ability to alter your viewpoint, you feel in control of the action and this helps when things get overwhelming.
Unsurprisingly, Pathfinder: Wrath of the Righteous is loaded with replay value. With oodles of subplots, loads of classes and races to choose from, and a monstrously large game to endure, you’ll be kept extremely busy. Moreover, to get the most out of this, you’ll need to invest upwards of 100 hours. As such, this isn’t a casual experience. Instead, it focuses on veterans of the D&D genre, and those that love the franchise.
Pathfinder: Wrath of the Righteous is definitely an improvement.
I’ve aired my complaints regarding its predecessor. However, thankfully, Pathfinder: Wrath of the Righteous is a vast improvement. Yes, it still has bugs, and at times, it is brutal as hell. Yet, I loved the detail, the gritty lore, and the excellent storytelling. What’s more, the customisation options are phenomenal, and the crusade battle elements are interesting at the beginning. The developers potentially spread themselves too thin, and this is seen during those army mechanics. Consequently, this was probably the weakest part of this game. But I wouldn’t let that put you off. No, instead I’ll happily recommend that you buy it here! Can you complete your mission and help the crusade? Control your party and your army as you push back the demonic forces and save humanity.