Ken Follett's The Pillars of the Earth: Book Two (PlayStation 4) Review

By Josh Di Falco 17.02.2018

Review for Ken Follett

After the surprise hit of Ken Follett's The Pillars of the Earth: Book One, Daedalic is back with its second book visualisation of the 1,000-plus page paperback novel. Continuing on from where the previous book had left off, Aliena and her brother Richard arrive at Kingsbridge as wool-merchants after William Hamleigh's sacking of her family's Earldom position. In the meantime, Jack Jackson continues to try and find his place in the world while he helps Tom Builder and his son Alfred continues with the construction of the new cathedral. In the darkness, though, Waleran Bigod continues to pull the strings in his personal vendetta against Prior Philip. After looking at last year's PC release, Cubed3 now see how the console version of Book Two holds up.

While the first book had spent the time to carefully weave the story through three characters in order to drive up the momentum, the second book begins by stilting that momentum. Rather than going forward, the opening chapters retell the back half of the first book, but instead putting the focus on the playable Aliena and her brother Richard. While it was required in order to understand more about how they ended up at Kingsbridge trading sheep's wool, a few cut-scenes and chosen dialogue might have gotten that same point across without stopping the momentum that the previous book had done well to create.

Screenshot for Ken Follett's The Pillars of the Earth: Book Two on PlayStation 4

Thankfully, though, after the slow start, the story does pick up again. Aliena's wool-trade takes off, and Prior Philip decides to start a Kingsbridge market in order to fund the continued construction of Tom's new, grand cathedral. Of course, however, the Hamleigh family, led by its evil and conniving son William, has to make life absolutely horrible for everybody, and they don't disappoint. William's character growth stems from his hatred of Aliena after she had rejected his hand in marriage in the first book, and watching him continuing his spiral into darkness is a fascinating one.

Jack Jackson is the second playable character, helping Tom build his dream cathedral, while horribly tolerating the bullying of his son, Alfred. Growing up in the wild didn't teach Jack great mannerisms as he struggles to find his place in this new world that Tom Builder had brought his mother and himself, too. Watching Jack struggle through confrontations or his lack of care when babysitting adds a sad trope to the character. However, he really shouldn't know any better due to his poor upbringing, and his character is a great one to watch because of this detriment.

Screenshot for Ken Follett's The Pillars of the Earth: Book Two on PlayStation 4

Prior Philip is the third playable character who holds up the tail-end of the second book, and getting into his story arc is definitely going down the path of spoiler territory. However, he probably got a whole lot more than he bargained for when he agreed to take the Prior role at Kingsbridge. Getting thrown out of his comfort zone and watching Philip try to get out of these situations is also done quite well and in a believable way. His feud with the manipulative mastermind, Waleran, grows to a whole new level of politics, and it sets up a massive blow-off for the final book.

Apart from the slow crawl at the beginning, the story finally gains pace and then builds up the momentum again right through to the end. The second book tells a lot of tragedies, and is a lot darker than the first because of it. This helps each of the staple characters to grow, though, and watching Aliena, Jack, and Philip overcome or deal with their tragedies in different ways shows where their strengths and weaknesses lie, and what they are willing to do to push forward.

Screenshot for Ken Follett's The Pillars of the Earth: Book Two on PlayStation 4

Gameplay-wise, Book Two tries to include a few "open world" areas, which unfortunately work against it. Running around town as Aliena, trying to figure out a way to better negotiate the price of the sheep's wool by speaking to everybody around the map is annoying… or that the answer to preventing Richard and his comrades from having a pub fight is to find a board game that requires speaking to everybody around the map, also. While it was an interesting idea to include more of these larger open world areas, they more just act as hubs to extend the game's length.

There are also some bugs or glitches that were found along the way during review. Some of the more minor issues include the wrong names appearing on the subtitle graphics; for instance, baby Jonathan would be crying, but according to the subtitles it was Philip, while Jonathan's name would be spoken in Philip's lines. However, there was a big glitch that took place when it played certain scenes out of order, thus crashing the game and not allowing any further progress. The only fix for this was to reload the last manual save, as the game's auto save had taken place during this bug. A pro-tip, then, for those who don't already, maybe keep a manual save handy just in case this bug doesn't get fixed - otherwise, resetting the entirety of Book Two will be the only option.

Screenshot for Ken Follett's The Pillars of the Earth: Book Two on PlayStation 4

Cubed3 Rating

Rated 7 out of 10

Very Good - Bronze Award

Rated 7 out of 10

Ken Follett's The Pillars of the Earth: Book Two is more of the same as found in Book One, with the same beautifully drawn characters and locations. The voice acting continues to drive the emotional beats of the story, as Daedalic continues to sprawl through the huge novel and bring it down to a manageable and still enjoyable visual novel. While glitches, bugs, and some annoying open world areas ruin the flow of an otherwise intriguing story, this does well to set up what promises to be a satisfying Book Three, as all the character arcs and story threads get tied up in a satisfying conclusion.





C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  7/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   


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