The Pillars of the Earth breaks ground, is out now

The Pillars of the Earth

Having spent the entirety of its existence assuming The Pillars of the Earth [official site] was probably Pillars of Eternity I have found out today that a) it isn’t and b) it’s a point and click about CATHEDRAL CONSTRUCTION IN 12th CENTURY ENGLAND! Oh, also c) it’s out now and there’s a launch trailer to watch…

“An adaption of the best-selling historical book of the same name by Ken Follett, The Pillars of the Earth is a one-of-a-kind 2D interactive novel. The story follows a memorable cast of characters in this twelfth-century tale of the construction of a mighty Gothic cathedral which stunned readers and critics alike with its ambitious scope and gripping humanity.”

That’s a basic overview but there’s a better quotation later which fleshes out those conflicts and characters a bit:

“Set in the tumultuous period of 12th century England, The Pillars of the Earth sees main characters such as Jack, Aliena and Prior Phillip fight to construct a revolutionary gothic cathedral in the fictional town of Kingsbridge and put their town on the map economically, socially and politically. Such aspirations draw the ire of the the town’s rivals Bishop Waleran and William Hamleigh, a vengeful noble rejected by Aliena, who see the town and its rise to importance as a thorn in their flesh. They want to see Kingsbridge burn. This epic tale crosses decades and immerses readers in medieval life yet enthralls them in tales of heart-rending intimacy and humanity along the way.”

Adam had a brief hands-on with the game earlier this year and it sounded really promising, with a lot of thoughtful work that sounds like it’s not just inheriting and running with a bunch of genre problems or just taking basic point and click or Telltale storytelling formats wholesale. It’s even in little things like a “think” option which lets you ruminate on objects and people in your surroundings in a way which helps express the detail of the world.

Adam only played a short demo so it’s impossible for us to say whether the final game has made good on those ideas yet – I’ll try to take a peek this week as it sounds really interesting, though! It also divides into chapters so that makes the idea of playing it while also working around Gamescom and things seem manageable.

Just as an FYI, I wrote a kind of biography of Canterbury cathedral for my undergrad degree – that cathedral was founded in the 6th century AD by Augustine of Canterbury but the architecture is a complicated jigsaw of later work. The 12th century is particularly important because Thomas Becket was murdered in the cathedral in 1170 and the veneration of Becket which followed necessitated that the cathedral (and Canterbury) accommodate that strand of pilgrimage. There was also a fire which necessitated a bunch of rebuilding work in the choir, hence the appearance of things like flying buttresses.

Confusingly, the press email I have to hand puts the price at £34.99 on PC but GOG are listing it at £23.99/$30.89/27,39€ and Steam are going with £26.99/$29.99/29,99€ so ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

There’s always money in the banana cathedral, Michael.

26 Comments

  1. Syt says:

    First screenshot reminds me of Disney’s Hunchback of Notre Dame.

  2. DEspresso says:

    Too many games with the PoE abbreviation right now, which may be a weird thing to critique.

  3. yogibbear says:

    There’s also a board game of this, based on the same book.

  4. Someoldguy says:

    He’s a good author and the bits I saw of the TV adaptation were interesting. I look forward to a review telling us just how much influence you can have over events.

  5. OPTIMUS says:

    Hey guys thank you for your great job! I like too visit your RPS page in my freetime!

  6. eAi says:

    Really enjoyed the TV series of this a few years back, so this is interesting – and surprising!

  7. Darth Gangrel says:

    Watching the tv-miniseries was the first time I went “huh, they’re killing off their major characters in every episode”, something that is now made mainstream/cool by Game of Thrones.

    What I want to say is that I remembered tv-shows doing this before it was cool, that is all.

    • Premium User Badge

      jssebastian says:

      I think it’s not unusual to kill a lot of main characters in books or tv, when you’re telling a story that spans many decades and a few generations. It’s tricky though, I recall losing interest in 100 years of solitude because I did not care about the younger generation of characters for some reason.

  8. EstebanLB01 says:

    Your job is about videogame journalism in some form, yet you confused a famous novel’s game with a another famous game.
    That’s sad Philippa Warr…

  9. racccoon says:

    This is an incredible book game, great job! :)

  10. Shinryoma says:

    I got to know Pillars from the excellent but sadly out of print worker placement board game, Pillars of the Earth . I then watched the TV series which made the theme of the board game make more sense.

    Licensing prevents the game from being reprinted it seems.

    • PiiSmith says:

      Too bad that this excellent game is not available anymore. This board game is what makes me interested in this video game.

  11. Cederic says:

    Hmm. Whether you play the game, the board game, watch the tv show or skip the lot, the book is worth reading.

    It’s an unusual departure from standard Ken Follett fare, and I did enjoy reading it. Still have a copy.

  12. Premium User Badge

    jssebastian says:

    If I remember correctly, Thomas Becket’s murder is contemporary to the fictional events in the book, and is a major plot point as well. If you’re into that slice of history you should definitely give it a read, it’s a good book. World without end (a kind of sequel set a few hundred years later) is also good, though it does feel like a bit more of the same.

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