Ken Follett's The Pillars of the Earth: Book Three (PC) Review

By Thom Compton 07.04.2018

Review for Ken Follett

Episodic, choice-driven adventure games can get pretty complex, but Ken Follett's The Pillars of the Earth takes that to some pretty staggering new levels. Dealing with politics and religion as they applied to England in the 1100s, gamers get to see a very different kind of epic. No-one else could easily pull off over 20 hours of content where a huge focal point is building a church or selling wool, and yet Daedelic has been able to bring the world to life in a very powerful trilogy of games that span decades, and conflicts far more grounded in the real world than most fiction has to offer. As it winds it down, though, the team seems to have leaned pretty heavily on the idea of this being a true epic and, sadly, that means not every moment feels quite as good as it should have.

The third book picks up shortly after the events at the end of the second. The first chapter, save a few isolated moments, has gamers trotting around small parts of Europe with Aliena. From England to Spain, Aliena's early moments are meant to serve not only as a realistic look at what a pilgrimage like this would be like, but also a reminder of her character's desires. Unfortunately, this results in the first chapter lasting entirely too long, dwarfing the other chapters substantially. Actually, the first chapter is about as long as most Telltale games, and while that's impressive in its own right, it does feature a lot of segments that just feel like they drag on.

They do hold some weight throughout the remainder of the book, but it feels a bit too stretched out to justify. Thanks to frequent time jumps (which occur throughout the episode), it feels like some moments are just there to fill time. A couple sections are heavily isolated from the main story, and they waver from not interesting at all to merely okay. While it definitely serves to flesh out the story, once looking back after the end, it does feel rather pointless.

Even after the first chapter finally concludes, and players catch up with Phillip, everything feels off. However, this time it's because everything is just being rushed. It's as though Daedelic knew it had spent too much time on the opening, and had to cram as much information as possible into each chapter as quickly as it could to round it off. Again, frequent time jumps result in the story moving along so quickly that those in control have barely any time to comprehend what's going on. The beats are much more interesting, which makes it all the more irritating that they move along so quickly.

Screenshot for Ken Follett's The Pillars of the Earth: Book Three on PC

There are technical issues, too, although they aren't going to ruin anything for you in the long run. The most annoying parts are again moving around large areas, with your character dwarfed, and trying to recognise where they are. Fortunately, these segments are also much less common than they were in the previous books, which is really nice. Also, and it's weird that yours truly didn't notice this in the past two books, but the ability to pause the game whenever wanted would have been nice. Having to leave the game for a bit during a particularly intense scene and not being able to pause what's happening is extremely irritating.

Fear not, though, because the book is still, all round, pretty good. The best segments belong to Aliena later in the game, and it is nice seeing her actions play out in smart ways later on. Jack also gets some smart and logical character development, resulting in him being a close second to Aliena's lead. Phillip sits at a distant third, as his moments are few and far between, and he gives way to the game's worst segment, but more on that shortly. Aliena gets the lion's share of the game time, and her character is so impressively written that it's really a delight getting to spend time with her.

So then, the ending. The ending, brought by Phillip, is not only anti-climatic, but kind of a letdown. One of the series' most important plot lines is not only left unresolved, but the dialogue might lead you to believe you should be thankful for it. Like it is coyly smirking and whispering, "Well, that's realistic." No spoilers here, but for a series so willing to perform time jumps whenever it needs to further the plot, the fact that it refuses to do that for the ending is just a little disappointing. Furthermore, it leaves a lot of the earlier segments feeling irrelevant. Imagine watching a movie about the entire life of a young couple, until they reach old age and pass away. Now, imagine a third of the movie is them fighting about what colour the new carpeting should be, and you will have an idea how frustrating the finale is.

Screenshot for Ken Follett's The Pillars of the Earth: Book Three on PC

Cubed3 Rating

6/10
Rated 6 out of 10

Good

Ken Follett's The Pillars of the Earth is a great series, with an enjoyable first act, a profoundly good second, and a rather disappointing third. While it's still a good story, Book Three just doesn't know what to give time to. Stories that should have been wrapped up quicker get much more time, and moments that should have been given more weight are rushed. It doesn't tarnish the first two books all that much, but it is sad to see this story go out on such a low note. Still, the time spent with the series is definitely a treat and, overall, the entire series is one of the best adventure games to come out in some time.

Developer

Daedalic

Publisher

Daedalic

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  6/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date None   Australian release date Out now   

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