Best iOS Games: The Pillars of the Earth Review

People with a lack of patience or itchy twitch fingers will likely declare The Pillars of the Earth Game Book one: From the Ashes ($4.99) to be a drab and painfully boring game. But for those seeking an engaging, stress-free gaming experience, Pillars is an enthralling graphic adventure that will soothe and inspire. If you are the latter, read on to find out if this gaming experience is worthy of the purchase price.

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The Pillars of the Earth Game Book one: From the Ashes is the first of three books to be released. Similar to the serial game publication model employed by Telltale Games, publisher Daedalic Entertainment has interpreted Ken Follett's expansive story of 12th-Century England into an often drab yet serene setting of numerous character interactions, occasional dialog tree choices, and a sprinkling of point and click object association puzzles. The puzzles themselves serve mostly to coerce players to interact with every actionable marker on the screen. While some may find this excruciating, I found it to deepen the immersion within this pseudo-historic environment.

Pillars Prologue

The game's interface is similar to Telltale's dialog options, allowing players to select a predefined response within a time limit during character interactions. And like Telltale stories, choices made in the Pillars dialog options affect the outcome of the story. Subtitles are enabled by default but can be turned off for a more cinematic experience (my preferred mode of play).

Graphically, the game's designers have opted to tell the story in a cell animation style similar to old Saturday-morning cartoons. This animation aesthetic has been recently popularized in The Banner Saga game series and it works just as effectively in this game. This does tend to create stilted cutout-looking characters with stiff motions and imperfect lip-syncing, but the backdrops and audio easily compensate for the animation gaps.

Pillars Monestary

Speaking of audio, this is where the game truly shines. All the dialog in the game is spoken, delivered by voice actors who are talented and convincing in their roles. Even story author Ken Follett is a cast member as the voice of the Cantor. An ambient background expands each scene, further immersing players in the feeling of accompanying the characters in the variety of locations explored throughout the game. The musical score further elevates the experience by enhancing the emotional resonance of character interactions and new discoveries.

Final Verdict

The game will provide several hours of entertainment, well worth its asking price. It's also a large 3 GB download, so be sure to have enough free space available. If you are intrigued by the historical period captured by the game and enjoy a slow-burn story featuring characters with rich, calm interactions that bloom over time, The Pillars of the Earth will transport you to a captivating time and place with each finger tap on the screen. I look forward to the other two books being released so I can continue my journey in this interactive story.

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Mike Riley is a frequent contributor to several technical publications and specializes in emerging technologies and new development trends. Mike was previously employed by RR Donnelley as the company’s Chief Scientist, responsible for determining innovative technical approaches to improve the company’s internal and external content services. Mike also co-hosted Computer Connection, a technology enthusiast show broadcast on Tribune Media's CLTV.