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Game Review

There was a time when if someone heard the term video gamer, they would instantly think of some pimply faced teen sitting in a dark room with a controller clutched tightly in his sweaty adolescent mitts—a misguided unfortunate, wasting his life away while staring at a flickering screen littered with flashing images of death and destruction.

But times have changed.

These days a gamer is likely to be almost anyone, young or old, male or female, geeky or athletic. And the gaming world has likewise blossomed in myriad creative directions. So whether you're a gamer seeking adventure, platforming action or just some moments of quite introspection, there's something for you. Why, some video games might even motivate you to learn about history, get involved in a sports team or … go read a book?

Yep, even that.

A Medieval Tale

Daedalic Entertainment's new point-and-click title The Pillars of the Earth is based on a popular book by historical novelist and thriller scribe Ken Follett. And this game is all about the storytelling experience. Its sprawling tale is set in medieval times, and it focuses on the Catholic Church, the politics of the monarchy and, well, architecture. And if you're thinking that doesn't sound like typical video game sort of stuff, you're right. But it makes for interesting play nonetheless.

The first downloadable set of story chapters sticks pretty closely to the book, letting gamers play as one of two central characters.

First, there's Jack, a young boy who's been raised in the forest by his mother. She's a woman with an inscrutable background that some suggest might involve witchcraft. They fall in with a widower and master builder named Tom, who's heading with his children to the nearest town to look for work and sustenance.

The other central character is a monk by the name of Brother Philip. He's a good man who longs to serve God well in quiet, simple ways. But he repeatedly finds himself thrust into the manipulative, political world of the Catholic Church and the monarchy.

Building Relationships … and Cathedrals

There's no mount-your-horse-and-swing-your-battle-axe action here. Instead, gameplay focuses on interactive story development through one-on-one conversations and environmental exploration.

Jack, for instance, initially talks to citizens and explores the surroundings of the fortress of Earlcastle to help his newly adoptive dad, Tom, find a job. Can Tom use his builder skills for good? Will he fulfill his dream of building a cathedral for the hopeless masses? Meanwhile, Brother Philip finds himself pulled into the circumstances surrounding a mysterious death at the priory of Kingsbridge. He must seek out tightly held information and important clues that will lead to the truth. Eventually these two stories weave together.

All that talk-and-explore interaction will feel slow, and at times even plodding, for some. But if you stick with it, you can't help but find yourself pulled into the narrative swirl of Follett's intriguing tale. And the game choices you make will slightly tweak the storyline as you go.

Earnest but Mature

It should be noted, however, that this thought-provoking game is definitely aimed at adults. And while there's nothing graphically offensive here, other mature elements do pop up.

An opening scene, for instance, depicts a child's birth in a forest (the camera focuses on the woman's husband as he helps her), followed by the woman's sad and unavoidable death as she's exposed to the wintery elements. In another scene, Jack's mother explains—in somewhat graphic verbal terms—how babies are made. We see a man stabbed with a spear and hear of a woman who was nearly raped. And some villainous characters occasionally spew foul language, including the f-word.

On the other hand, this deliberately paced and stylishly animated game also takes the time to consider what service to God in a realistic, sometimes dark and cruel world might look like. It explores the idea of earnest belief and talks openly of God's sacrifice of His son for humanity. It also addresses the contrast between superstition and true faith.

And since this initial digital installment only covers the book's first seven chapters, The Pillars of the Earth game may well motivate you to visit your local library, too. If only to find out how this compelling—if M-rated—tale ends.

Positive Elements

Spiritual Content

Sexual Content

Violent Content

Crude or Profane Language

Drug and Alcohol Content

Other Negative Elements


Pro-social Content

Objectionable Content

Summary Advisory

Plot Summary

Christian Beliefs

Other Belief Systems

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Discussion Topics

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Episode Reviews



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Record Label


Xbox One, PlayStation 4, PC


Daedalic Entertainment


August 16, 2017

On Video

Year Published



Bob Hoose

We hope this review was both interesting and useful. Please share it with family and friends who would benefit from it as well.

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