Back in 2018 when Pathfinder: Kingmaker was released it gave the Pathfinder RPG its long overdue adaptation to go up against Dungeons and Dragons vast library of iconic games. Now, Owlcat Games is back, and they brought us the sequel Wrath of the Righteous, while Kingmaker focused on becoming a king and managing a kingdom, Wrath of the Righteous focuses its attention on managing a military crusade giving the game a slew of new challenges, themes and perils that really set this apart from its prequel.
Wrath of the Righteous takes us headlong into the peril of the world wound a dimensional rift connecting the world of Golerian to Hell and allowing demons to walk amongst the mortals as our character ends up in a situation where they become the leader of a crusade to take the fight to the demons and maybe, at long last, close the wound in the world and end the demonic threat once and for all. The characters are well designed and just bleeding creativity, the same care and attention also applies to the various quests in the game both the major ones that move the story forward and the side content, while some quests are time-gated and become unavailable after certain plot points there’s no ticking clock like at the beginning of Kingmaker.
The gameplay it’s basically divided into two core pillars the first being a traditional RPG in the same vein as Baldur’s Gate and the other is a tactical military simulation. If you’re a longtime fan of CRPGs then you are going to be right at home here, it’s a simulation of the pathfinder tabletops rule set with simulated dice rolls and skill checks, whether or not your character meet the needed requirements to determine whether or not you can perform an action, so there’s no dumbing down for the sake of a broader, more casual audience. Although a nice addition brought over from Kingmaker’s Enhance Edition was the inclusion of turn-based combat as an option, this can be switched on and off at any time and it offers the player a better chance to get themselves out of a tight spot than the live combat. Personally I prefer the turn-based combat over the live dice roll combat for most of my time with the game, this is because it clearly took inspiration from the modern X-Com titles but put its own spin on things in that you can move your character before performing a standard action or sacrifice that standard action to move a greater distance On top of that, you can also use a free action with certain abilities without losing the standard action and there’s also a swift action for certain buffing abilities you can use once per turn these additions make this system feel like a genuine advancement over its inspiration.
In contrast with the military simulation, it took obvious inspiration from early Heroes of Might and Magic games and to be honest it is easily the weaker of the two. You have armies that you can move around the world map like you do your party, but they can only move a certain distance per day and you need them in order to clear out demon armies and forts that block the way for your party. Effectively this means the armies serve to just pad out the play time forcing you to build up forces and level up your generals before you can clear a path to advance the story, but with that being said this is a very big game and as you progress more and more of it reveals itself to you by the time you reach the third act you now have to also manage policies and orders that can influence your armies, keep an eye on their morale and not to mention the finances and you also have to make sure you’re on top of infrastructure, neglecting any of these can put you in a situation where your base is sieged by demons costing you the game. So while it isn’t as satisfying, effort did clearly go into this part of the game and the fact it doesn’t show you everything right from the get-go is a great incentive to keep playing as it creates a sense of wonder as it unfolds ever increasing complexity in its overall design.
Overall, Wrath of the Righteous is a terrific game it offers an engaging role-playing experience regardless if you’re an experienced player or a newcomer to the Pathfinder IP this title has an ungodly amount of content waiting for you to experience and easily one of the best games I’ve played in a very long time.