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Old-school meets new-school RPG
Although aspiring to the lofty heights of classic RPGs like Baldur's Gate and Icewind Dale is asking for trouble, Pillars of Eternity is actually one of the few recent efforts to actually match its ambitions. It's a superb game which wears its influences on its sleeves with pride and which provides hours of entertainment for fans of real RPGs. The game is set in the fantasy world of Eora and finds the player in control of a character known as a Watcher, someone who has the ability to read the memories of dead souls. The main part of the game focuses on your quest to discover why your skills have recently awoken and what follows is a complex and winding tale that is never less than utterly absorbing. In gameplay terms, this is a traditional isometric RPG, where you set up your party then explore the vast world, engaging in combat, picking up side quests and all the usual stuff you find in such games. However, while much of this has been seen before, it's rare in the modern world to find an RPG that sticks so slavishly to its roots and doesn't dumb things down. The game gets off to a great start with its appealing visuals and well crafted world, with plenty of detail to catch the eye. The environments are varied and rarely less than beautiful, while the sound backs things up nicely. The story and its myriad side narratives are well crafted with some superb writing to pull you along, while characters are memorable and full of personality. It's not an easy game, and requires some effort on the part of the player, but if you're willing to put the hours in, this is one of the most rewarding games of recent times.