Ken Follet’s The Pillars Of The Earth (Switch) Review – A Dreary Tale Told Beautifully

Ken Follet’s The Pillars Of The Earth (Switch) Review

If you’re looking for a story to completely immerse yourself in and you’re a fan of the medieval era that’s rich in story, then Daedalic entertainment has just the tale for you. Ken Follet’s The Pillars of the Earth retold the popular novel in a beautifully illustrated point-and-click adventure game that was released back in 2017. But now it has finally made its way to the Switch’s library. 

The story tells a tale of three unlikely people coming together amidst famine, war, and other political distress that each is involved with in some way. Their ultimate goal is to rebuild the broken cathedral in Kingsbridge, England in the 12th century. You take control and watch the stories of Jack the outsider, Aliena the noblewoman, and Philip the monk. Each walks different paths in life with very different stories. But we watch as the three’s stories inevitably become entwined over the course of 20 years. 

As a point-and-click adventure, it’s very welcome on the Nintendo Switch. The port runs incredibly well and the controls for the most part are very fluid. You’ll have a basic inventory controlled and scrolled between by the right joy-con, while you’re controlling your character with the left joy-con. When you’re interacting with others, objects, and animals, you will have a series of options to choose from and the topic of conversation can be changed when you select a particular item from your inventory.

A Story Told On The Go

There really is no sense of urgency while playing this game, but there are a few instances where you’ll need to time some button presses’ as well as timed dialogue choices. The choices you make actually feel impactful in the world and the setting around you, however, there were moments where if you pick the undesired option, the game will force you back into the previous menu to pick the more appropriate action. This can feel a bit frustrating but considering this is based on a book, there are only so many different story paths that you can take.

Ken Follett's The Pillars of the Earth

There aren’t a lot of puzzles however sometimes you might receive an item you have no idea what to do with. It can be a bit of trial and error trying to figure out who or where it belongs to. But that’s kind of part of the fun. You might accidentally give something to someone and gain favor from that character without meaning to.

As I wasn’t familiar with this title or the book, I was in awe while watching the trailer. The beautiful art style spoke volumes, even with a more mute and almost dreary color pallet. While playing this, I was thoroughly impressed and fell in love with the more simplistic yet dynamic art. The character portraits were expressive yet powerful and with 200 unique hand-painted environments, it looked fantastic whether I was playing the Nintendo Switch docked or handheld. I was thrilled to see just how the next environment would outdo the last. However, because the story and gameplay are on the slower end, certain things can become quite mundane and even tedious. Especially when most of the game is dialogue driven, monotony sets in after a while. 

Beautiful Art With Some Amazing Musical & Vocal Talents

However, Pillars of the Earth does boast amazing fully voiced acting in both English and German. The voice actors chosen for this project are excellent, and you can hear their pain and their passion in their voices. They do incredibly well to immerse you further into their world. There were some pacing issues, particularly with long pauses. It works well in a film where you can see the subtleties in changes in their expression. But because we’re dealing with 2D portraits, this can sometimes come off as a bit strange and awkward.

I also did notice that there were many times the voiceover was not in sync with the lip flaps. I watch a lot of Virtual Streamers who use a similar format to get the same effect to resemble speaking with a GIF. So seeing this actually didn’t bother me at all. But I can certainly see how some may feel a bit irked by this. 

Ken Follett's The Pillars of the Earth

On top of the beautifully displayed artwork and excellent voice acting is the wonderful soundtrack that tied everything together. The orchestral soundtrack by FILMharmonic, Prague is simply superb and really completes the narrative, and really sets the tone. 

Ken Follet’s The Pillars of the Earth is an excellent novel packed into a stunning point-and-click adventure. While it may be on the slower side for some, it’s certainly a story that I would recommend to others. With heavy subject matter set in the 12th-century of England, it can come across as dark and almost somber. But the moments of humor and triumph are well worth the play through. 

*** Switch code provided by the publisher ***

The Good

  • Beautiful Story Telling
  • Gorgeous hand-drawn characters and environments
  • Superb Soundtrack

The Bad

  • Doesn’t offer much in terms of new gameplay experience
  • A slower pace can become tedious and mundane
  • Some lip-syncing issues