Pillars of Eternity wins our 2015 Spirit of the PC award, which celebrates games that capture something fantastic about the PC platform, whether historical or modern. We'll be posting the rest of our awards and personal picks daily as we approach the end of the year, which we're collecting on our main GOTY page.
Andy Kelly: Steeped in RPG history—from Baldur’s Gate to Planescape: Torment—Pillars of Eternity takes the best of those old Infinity Engine games and gives it a modern sheen. With beautifully descriptive writing and brilliantly fun, tactical combat, this is one of the best PC role-players in years. The way your party’s skills complement each other makes battles a genuine thrill as yous stack and combine their abilities to cleverly outsmart the challenging enemies. And the world Obsidian have created gives the usual high fantasy tropes a dark edge, and it feels like it could have been based on some forgotten D&D campaign.
Tom Senior: Pillars could so easily have been a nostalgia trip that simply copied the Infinity Engine games of old. Instead, it improves them. Combat breaks away from the conventions of Dungeons & Dragons, allowing for clever new class concepts like the Cipher, who can manipulate the souls of enemies. It’s smartly written, too, using little text adventure skits to add flavour and detail that the elevated camera would otherwise be unable to show. Kickstarter backers are immortalised as NPCs, and each has a short story that you can read using your character’s rare psychic powers. It’s a fun reward for those loyal enough to fund the project, but it also makes the world feel rich and full of character.
It only works on PC, where players are able to read a lot of text up-close on a high-resolution screen. Pillars is part RPG, part fantasy novel. The choice to have characters voice only a line or two from each speech allows for more detailed exchanges, bolstered by descriptive interludes that pluck at the imagination. The result is a long, absorbing RPG that recognises the heritage of the great Infinity Engine RPGs without being subsumed by them.
Chris Thursten: Like going home at Christmas to discover that somebody has prepared all of your favourite food for days, the movies you watched as a kid are on and somebody’s unearthed a bunch of dog-eared fantasy paperbacks from your past. And a bottle of whisky. I want to curl up inside Pillars of Eternity and live there.