Alright, so I backed Pillars on Kickstarter, watched in joy as it was developed and run, enjoyed the dev commentary, appreciated the race and class previews, and I thought it all looked great.
And I started playing and noticed few problems (aside from the bloody Kickstarter NPCs whom I ignored), but more and more built up as the game progressed. Finally, I came to a terrible conclusion as I attempted a second playthrough:
This writing is dreadful. Not the dialogue, no, that's fine. Purple sometimes, but generally pretty good. What sucks is the epilogue and the player 'choices' made in-game, as well as the marginalization of classes in gameplay/story integration.
For starters, I played a Monk. Yeah, I remembered Monks being lame in DnD, but I assumed that in Pillars, based on the previews, it'd be fun. And it was fun, until every encounter became slogging it out with broad-sword wielding thugs in plate or Elder High Mega Dragons, or Invisible Deathtouch Demons or what have you. Monks lack the durability, dodging power and damage to be fantastic PCs... but what annoyed me the most was the supposition that every class would have something interesting to contribute to the story.
For example, if I were say, a follower of Eothas, I could go to the temple or talk to Edir or do all sorts of things and get a little snippet in relation to the plot at large or just giving more insight into the characters and the world around them. Priests, Paladins, Cyphers, Wizards, all of them get little extra options and such they can choose.
Oh, except the Monk. The class that doesn't even get an NPC partymember. The only five Monks in the game outside of the waves of cannonfodder I carved through are one dying messenger who was mauled to death by a mountain lion, and his four brothers who waited patiently in a tavern while their companion was mauled to death by a mountain lion.
Speaking of that tavern, I have words for that as well. There's no real plot important reason to go into that place. You can just saunter past it accidentally, as I did three times. I did the Monk Scroll quest and then left, assuming nothing more.
SPOILER ALERT: If you don't talk to one ordinary looking man named "Frightened Man", the entire city of Gilded Vale is exterminated in the epilogue.
Whoopsy. The village I went on a long, epic quest to save, defeating an entire castle of badasses over is now dead. Oh well. Sometimes a random NPC just spontaneously returns to life and invalidates all your work. If they'd wanted to live they'd have given a messenger five gold to actually deliver the message instead of relying on gossip, right?
Well, then there's the other problem of the people of the Dyrwood. They're all horribly monstrous, evil scumbags barring maybe ten individuals and the Glanfathans. Cultists of Skaen, Cultists of Woedica, the Volunteer Anti-Cypher Nazis, the Knights, one cruel, decadent, evil group after another. And then, then, after you bend over backwards and ensure that everything is perfect to make sure the Soul Arts get a fair trial?
DIDN'T MATTER! An evil reincarnating wizard jumps into the body of the defendant lightnings to death the entire city aristocracy, causing a mass riot to break out and destroy everything, including murdering all the Soul Doctors.
If you switch off the evil machine in the Northwest of the city instead of blowing it up? OOPS! NO ONE STUDIED IT! SOMEONE SWITCHED IT ON AGAIN AND IT KILLED EVERYONE!
So you understand why I think the "Choice" system is overhyped and doesn't really matter. It's either "Do what the lead writer wants or 100% of the population dies" or it doesn't matter at all because Woedica Ninjas jump out of a closet and murder 100% of the population.
Why would I want to play in this setting? Hell, why would I want to save the Dyrwood? Apparently EVERYONE is evil and stupid!
So yeah. It's a game with POTENTIAL for a good series, but it has little to no replay value.
...Also I played it when it first came out so it was pretty dang buggy too, but honestly they weren't really that bad for me. If pressed for a rating I'd say Pillars was an above average game, but it could have been excellent with more writing and polish and... well, MORE in general.