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Pathfinder: Wrath Of The Righteous

Platform(s): Nintendo Switch, PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
Genre: RPG/Strategy
Publisher: Prime Matter
Developer: Owlcat Games
Release Date: Sept. 2, 2021


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PC Review - 'Pathfinder: Wrath of the Righteous'

by Rhi "StormyDawn" Mitera on Sept. 1, 2021 @ 8:00 a.m. PDT

Based on the adventure path of the same name, Pathfinder: Wrath of the Righteous is a classic isometric CRPG game that follows in the footsteps of the previous digital adaptation of Paizo’s tabletop RPG, Pathfinder.

If you're like me, one of the things you miss most from the "before times" is a chance to get together with a few friends and play Dungeons & Dragons. Zoom games just aren't the same, and your pretty dice are just collecting dust. Thankfully, our friends at Owlcat Games are here for us in these dark times with Pathfinder: Wrath of the Righteous, the closest facsimile to a real PnP RPG you can get in a solo isometric RPG.

Wrath of the Righteous is an indirect sequel to 2018's Pathfinder: Kingmaker, and it features a new protagonist, new setting, and new characters to get to know and love (or hate). The events of Kingmaker are mentioned vaguely and in passing, so you don't need to have played it to understand or enjoy WotR, but if you did play it, the UI and framework of the sequel should feel familiar.

Owlcat Games has done a thorough job of fixing what needed to be fixed from the first game while not monkeying with what wasn't broken. I spent a lot of time in Kingmaker, so Wrath of the Righteous feels like coming home … while also feeling like something new. It's a difficult needle to thread, but Owlcat has managed to do so.

WotR feels less like a modern isometric RPG than one might expect, and it hearkens back to the days of Neverwinter Nights and Baldur's Gate 2. That's likely because of it being based on Pathfinder, which is itself based on D&D Edition 3.5, and it feels more complex and "old-fashioned" than the more recent editions of D&D. Pathfinder can be very intimidating to those who are unfamiliar with it — the sheer number of skills and stats and saving throws you can have are mind-boggling — but the game does most of the work for you and explains it to you in a way that's not overwhelming.

My favorite part of the Pathfinder rule set is how varied character creation can be, and WotR doesn't disappoint. There are a staggering 25 classes available, each with a few subclass options, and there are 13 prestige classes if you wish to take on a more specialized role later on. There are options that should suit anyone's preferred play style, from the more straightforward fighter/rogue/cleric to things like the witch, a spontaneous caster of divine magic (similar to a Favored Soul sorcerer) or an alchemist, who makes potions and bombs instead of slinging spells.

Whichever class you choose, you also have 13 potential companions to travel with who fulfill the roles you don't take. Some of the companions are mutually exclusive (like Lann and Wenduag in the prologue), but even so, you should be able to find a group that balances out your skill set and has personalities to fit your play style, from gentle clerics to brutal hellknights and everything in between. While you're set up to play the role of the Hero of the Fifth Crusade, WotR won't saddle you with an all-good party if that's not who you want to be; live your best and most evil life. There are also a total of seven potential romance options, so everyone should be able to find love in the Crusade — unless you wanted to romance Finnean the Talking Weapon. Sorry folks, but he's not on the market.

The game begins in the city of Kenabres, where you have just been found outside the city, bleeding from a mysterious wound. You are brought to the town square and healed — just in time for a massive ambush by demons! The city is decimated, and somehow, you end up aiding and leading the ragtag band of survivors who are trying to regain the city.

The Fifth Crusade has been called, a final war to close the Worldwound (a series of portals that leads directly to the Abyss, where demons are constantly pouring out of) and drive the demons off Golarion for good. You are called to lead it. You have the help of your companions and Queen Galfrey, who has been a crusader for nearly a century, and you have a strange power due to a wound that you sustained before the war began.

The strange power is your Mystic Path. You have nine different paths to choose from — some good, some evil, and some just for fun — and each grants an extra pool of skills to choose from and changes the direction of the narrative. Someone on the Angel Path gets opportunities and meet NPCs that players on the Demon Path or Azata Path will never see. This adds a lot of potential replayability to the game, but it also makes the story feel more personal than it might have been otherwise. It ties you directly to the plot in a way that makes it feel less like you're being carried along by the story and more like you're controlling the flow of it.

That's a good thing because there is a lot of story. Kingmaker could potentially be 200 hours or more for a single playthrough, and Wrath of the Righteous is even bigger. There are six chapters in total, and finishing the prologue and first chapter took me just shy of 40 hours. WotR is quite literally an entire Pathfinder tabletop campaign translated into a video game, and it feels like it. For me, this is a good thing. I like that it gives me room to explore and get to know my companions and the world. It is definitely not an undertaking for the faint of heart, and casual players could easily spend months in this game before they see the end.

WotR has done a good job of minimizing busywork compared to Kingmaker, but there are times when it can feel bloated or drag on too long. You spend a lot of time on the world map, watching your party walk between points of interest, or micromanaging your armies so they can fight demons. Even with good stealth checks, you still get ambushed frequently on the road and have to fight small bands of cultists or giant flies, which don't reward you much and quickly become a minor annoyance rather than a challenging fight. These are minor complaints in an otherwise gigantic world, and they don't detract much from the gameplay.

For those who miss the feeling of a long tabletop campaign or have been craving a new isometric RPG, Pathfinder: Wrath of the Righteous is the game for you. It's not perfect, but it has most of the best parts of playing a game with pen and paper while ironing out some of the fiddly and boring parts so you don't have to deal with them. Owlcat Games has taken what it learned from Kingmaker and improved upon it to give us something new and fun — no dice required.

Score: 9.0/10

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