GIVING THE DEVIL HIS DUE
All good things must eventually end eh? Daedalic’s Pillars of the Earth to me has been one hell of an emotional whirlwind, with absolute precision storytelling, a cast of brilliantly portrayed characters ranging from protagonists fighting for love, their families and their beliefs to some fearsome antagonists. It is games like this that gives me such a soft spot for episodic titles, you yearn for the follow up but only have to wait for a matter of months rather than years at a time and with the third and final book, the yet again aptly titled – Eye of the Storm, I completed my playthrough not with the ending I had imagined but I still uncovered a conclusion I found to be extremely fulfilling, dramatic and most of all heart-warming.
(MINOR SPOILERS AHEAD)
Eye of the Storm begins soon after Aliena and her new born son leaves England for France, docking on the shores of Normandy and begins her search for the heart broken Jack, who vanished from Kingsbridge after realising there was nothing left for him there. After following his trail which takes her all over France and Spain and share a starry-eyed reunion the couple and their child return to Kingsbridge, with the help of a ‘miracle’ they continue their plight against the Earl of Shiring, William Hamleigh and the corrupt bishop Waleran Bigod, to finally reinstate Aliena and her brother Richard to their rightful status and insure safety to the town that had brought all our protagonists together in the first place which they have adopted as their home. It is good to see how this powder keg that has slowly begun to rumble after the first two books combusts and even goes into how more aspects of life worked in that time, we learned about religion and that even in the 12th century even monls and priors will have their doubts about miracles and the Catholic religion itself, war and the economy in the previous chapters but Eye of the Storm also delves deeper into ingenuity, politics and how seriously subjects like heresy and treason were taken in that day and age, even if it may seem mind boggling to some. This is also demonstrating how far mankind has come in the past 900 years but still have remained the same in some ways. That being said I found this instalment to be significantly shorter than the other two and some characters that played a weighty part in previous parts being practically absent in this part. Nevertheless, the whole game itself came to a close in epic and intense fashion, I found myself practically on the edge of my seat and carrying on with the story almost like something else was controlling me.
From a visual standpoint, it is refreshing to see a vast change in environments with cultural differences overseas being rock solid and delightful as well as the architectural difference that makes each nation stand out in their own way. It’s also nice to see how the familiar locations that we have all come to know throughout Pillars of the Earth evolving with the 3 decades that Eye of the Storm spans. This also goes in earnest to the characters, watching all the men, women and children that we have met through our journey grow up and mature both physically and mentally. And though the imagery isn’t as jarring as Sowing the Wind, Eye of the Storm still features some unsettling moments and dark visuals. The myriad of sounds also continues to be a high point in Pillars of the Earth’s overall ethos. From the natural symphony of the wind, trees and animals to ominous choirs and music that eventually made Pillars of the Earth one of the best games I’ve experienced in a long time when it comes to sheer atmospheric spectacle.
I might be speaking for myself here but somehow the gameplay in Eye of the Storm seems a bit smoother from the usual flawed mechanics that I’ve experienced in the past with little stress caused from button prompts and movement. The final chapters of this tale take a more path of discovery than anything else with a couple moments of conflict and peril thrown in for good measure. But with all the questions asked after the first to books being slowly revealed in satisfying and shocking ways, making your way through the last 8 chapters feels like the narrative and gameplay meld together seamlessly.
All 3 Interactive Books are available now on PS4, Xbox One and Steam
Code was supplied by Daedalic Entertainment