Pillars of the Earth is a point and click adventure game released in three installments from 2017 to 2018. It’s based on the novel of the same name, which Ken Follett wrote in 1989. Follett’s original novel is a widely-acclaimed work of historical fiction, illustrating conflicts of faith and politics in 12th Century England. It led to the creation of multiple sequels, as well as three board games and a television series. While none of these adaptations have received quite as much acclaim as the novel itself, the video game in particular did get good reviews. If you want to carve your own path through the tumultuous events of Pillars of the Earth, here’s what you need to know above all.
Pillars of the Earth Premise
As you might expect, the story of Pillars of the Earth obviously follows the events of the original novel. The plot revolves around Kingsbridge Priory. The main characters become involved in an attempt to build a new cathedral at the priory, and this consequently draws them inevitably into a conflagration of local politics, greed, and corruption. As the conflict grows ever more fierce, you will unearth old sins, and eventually change the course of English history forever.
In terms of gameplay, Pillars of the Earth doesn’t particularly depart from the standard point and click adventure formula. The player character navigates a series of highly-detailed environments full of things to interact with. There are characters to talk to, objects to pick up or use, and travel points to take you to different screens. Holding down the spacebar allows you to highlight everything on screen that you can interact with. Gameplay progresses through puzzle solving, dialogue, and sometimes minigames.
Pillars of the Earth Main Characters
Pillars of the Earth is a truly epic tale, spanning many years during the construction of the great Kingsbridge Cathedral. Over the course of the story, you will meet many important and striking characters, each of whom accordingly play an integral role in the development of the tale. Pillars of the Earth features multiple playable characters depending on where you are in the story. And, of course, there are several more important figures to interact with as well. Here are some of the most important figures in the story of Pillars of the Earth.
- Tom Builder: Tom Builder is one of the early main characters, and likewise is an integral figure in the development of Kingsbridge Cathedral. He is a humble man who struggles to provide for his poor family. Despite his low status, he dreams of being able to build a cathedral of his own.
- Prior Philip: Philip is another important character. He is a monk who eventually takes charge as the Prior of Kingsbridge. He then strives to restore it to glory by helping Tom build a cathedral on its grounds.
- Jack: Jack is Tom’s adopted son, and he joins the family when Tom marries his mother Ellen. He’s a young man of unusual wit and ingenuity, and eventually he inherits the task of building Kingsbridge Cathedral from his adopted father.
- Aliena: Aliena grew up as the daughter of the Earl of Shiring. Unfortunately, the machinations of the cruel lord William Hamleigh deprived her of the title. She becomes instrumental in aiding Kingsbridge Priory by establishing a prosperous wool business.
- Bishop Waleran Bigod: The local bishop, Waleran Bigod, is a cruel and ambitious man. He uses the holy influence of his religious office in a constant bid to increase his own power. He is explicitly vicious and manipulative, and there are few lines he won’t cross to achieve his ends.
- William Hamleigh: This minor lord serves as the primary antagonist for much of the game. He is a cruel and sadistic man who craves absolute power over all he possesses. When he comes to oppose Kingsbridge Priory, his love of violence and strong connections to power make him a very dangerous foe.
Titles in the Pillars of the Earth Series
While there have been several books published in the Pillars of the Earth series, the video game stands alone. It was released in three parts over the course of two years, and was ported to the Switch earlier this very year. However, there is no indication that the original book’s sequels are set to receive the same treatment. If you played Pillars of the Earth and enjoyed the game’s story and setting, here instead is the full list of books written by Ken Follett. Each book tells its own self-contained story, while building on the lore of Kingsbridge Priory and its surrounding lands to weave a multigenerational narrative.
- The Pillars of the Earth (1989)
- World Without End (2007)
- A Column of Fire (2017)
- The Evening and the Morning (2020)
- The Armour of Light (2023)
Pillars of the Earth Cheat Codes
There are no cheat codes available for Pillars of the Earth. As a fully singleplayer point and click adventure game, cheat codes would surely serve little purpose. You don’t need to worry about challenging combat, and you can look up walkthroughs when the puzzles get tricky. The focus of the game, as is the focus of the original book, is the story of the charaacters themselves. And no cheat code is available to enhance that. That being said, there are several achievements you can unlock in Pillars of the Earth. Here’s the full list.
- Tattletale: Report a crime to the monks in Kingsbridge.
- Man of Politics: Get involved in your brother’s politics.
- Let There Be Darkness: Dim the lights in the cathedral.
- Yet Another Secret: Unlock a secret room in Kingsbridge.
- Friends of Sorts: Become friends with Alfred.
- End of Book One: Complete Book One.
- Full House: Invite everybody to the chapter meeting.
- Garden of Eden: Support Milius’ dream of a garden.
- Wannabe Knight: Try becoming a knight.
- Help an Old Friend: Take care of your pony.
- Two of Us: Stay together.
- End of Book Two: Complete Book Two.
- Workers’ Union: Help the fullers.
- Negotiation Skills: Negotiate the best deal for Kingsbridge.
- Jack Was Here!: Find Jack’s tracks.
- The Truth Revealed: Reveal the conspiracy.
- The Oath: Fulfill your vow.
- The End.: Complete Book Three.
- Everything’s In Order: Bring order to William’s chaos.
- Brother Marcus: Meet the consequences of your past.
- Exterminator: Take care of Kingsbridge’s insect problem.
- Twist of Fate: Wisen up before you cause a great disaster.
- Good Midwife: Be especially supportive during birth.
- Whodunnit: Catch the suspect.
- First Profit: Make a profit.
- Friar Tuck: Steal from the bishop at every opportunity.
- Nothing But Make-Believe: Find all telling clues.
- A Cry for Help: Take care of a kindred soul.
- Team Player: Give moral support to the knights.
- Skilled Merchant: Negotiate well.
- Silentium est Aureum: Let others do the talking.
- Vox Populi: Gather an army.
- Rebel Without A Cause: Get into trouble with the earl of Shiring.
- Staring Contest Champion: Return the stare.
- Lone Wolf: Become enemies with Alfred.
- Countess Aliena: Become Countess.
- Self-Defense: Prepare Elizabeth for the worst.
- Revenge: Take revenge.
- A Brush with Death: Escape the knights.
- Care, Like A Brother Cares: Use every opportunity to teach Martha how to use your slingshot.
- Boy of Mystery: Keep quiet about your past.
Pillars of the Earth Cheats FAQ
How long is Pillars of the Earth? The original novel by Ken Follett is a very hefty book, weighing in at over 1000 pages. Luckily, the Pillars of the Earth video game isn’t quite as much of a time commitment. Howlongtobeat measures the game at around 15 to 20 hours depending on how much of a completionist you are. Since the game is so heavily narrative-focused, you shouldn’t see too much variation from this if you just follow the path Pillars of the Earth lays out for you. There aren’t any difficult, Dark Souls-esque bosses to get stuck on, for instance. Even the trickiest puzzles can easily be solved with a walkthrough if you’re pressed for time.