by Quinn Levandoski
previewed on PC
I hate to start of an article like this, but I think it’s worth saying right off the bat that I had a hard time playing Kyn as long as I needed to for this preview. I hate starting it off like this because Kyn definitely isn’t a bad game. At this point, Kyn is just an immaculately average game in almost every regard. It doesn’t do anything terribly wrong, and it’s got some nice features, but Kyn’s downfall is that gamers have been absolutely spoiled with quality isometric action RPGs like Pillars of Eternity and Divinity: Original Sin that blow it out of the water in pretty much every way. The cold, hard truth is that with the deep, abundant sea of games coming out every year, “alright” just isn’t good enough to pull people’s time and money away from other games, and Kyn is an alright game.
Living Under a Rock
When we first meet the first two members of our adventuring party, Alrik and Bram, they step out of a cave that they’ve been barricaded inside of in order to gain special powers. It appears that it’s worked, to some degree, as the two can now do things like bring people back to life and scare away baddies with fear inducing magic, though more powers come to them as you level up. Luckily for them, there’s a stranger standing not too far from the cave to tell them that things have gone downhill in the months that they were in the cave. Violence is on the up and up, and people need protecting. Our heroes set out to return to the hub-town of Vinborg, one thing leads to another, and they’ve got to save everyone from evil monsters. There isn’t really anything noteworthy about how the story develops from there, which is a bit unfortunate. I don’t always need an intricate, life changing story in games like this, but at least a little more reason to care and personality from the characters is nice. Fortunately one thing that helps a bit is the Norse inspired lore and setting. It’s not that there aren’t other games out there along the same vein, but I’ve always had a soft spot for snow and horned helmets (Vikings did not really have horned helmets -Editor), so for that it earns some extra points.
In an RPG like this gameplay is king, and, to continue the trend, combat and exploration in Kyn is functional without really doing anything to make it different from or better than its genre kin. As you start out, with only two characters and two abilities, combat is pretty straight forward. Click one of your guys, click an enemy, and watch them attack until you want to use a power or change targets. You can move people around for better tactical positioning, but until later when you get some more diversified companions, weapons, and skills, there’s not really much of a point. Unfortunately, even when you’ve got a full party of six with a mix of combat styles and strengths, combat is never really anything more. I found myself going through the motions, which worked fine, but not really enjoying much of it. Combat being very difficult, even at the normal and hard difficulty settings I played on, but I never felt like it was hard because I needed to learn new strategies, or understand my party or their enemies more, or anything that RPGs with deeper combat might promote. It was always a matter of moving people into positions, slowing time to issue some basic orders, and let each party member do their role. There are also puzzles, but they seldom reach beyond “pull a lever here, stand there, and open a door” territory. Again, it worked. I’m not trying to say that the gameplay is bad or broken: It’s just that it’s not as deep, exciting, or interesting to look at as other similar titles out there.
Kyn is a nice looking game. It doesn’t have amazingly detailed character models or effects, but the environments are varied with a nice art style, and the bad guys look cool. The music is also worth noting. It’s appropriately grandiose, and did more than anything else to give the game its occasional cinematic feel. As far I can tell it isn’t, but I’d definitely buy the background music that plays and throw it in my movie/game soundtrack playlist. The user interface is perfectly functional, consisting of a basic inventory and equipment screen, ability chart and mission tracker. Where the interface falls apart a bit, and I suppose it might be less of an interface problem and more of a click detection problem, is that far too often I had a very hard time casting the abilities I wanted or clicking the character I wanted. For some reason every so often when I wanted to talk to an NPC it I would have to put my mouse about an inch above their head on my screen in order for it to register that I was trying to talk to them. Also, even when I slow time to issue orders, I was unsure whether my abilities were registering as activated. There isn’t any visual indication right away when they’re clicked, and even when they are, they wouldn’t sometimes activate in a timely manner or location. I’m assuming the later is a bug of some sort, but even such, clicking specific enemies and allies in a crowded fight is functional at best, and frustratingly difficult at worst anyways, so I’d love to see the ability controls tightened up or revisited by the developers.
As has been a running theme in this preview, Kyn is just a completely average game, and with just over a month until release I’d be extremely surprised if anything large enough is added or altered to change that. And you know what? If you’re a huge fan of the genre who’s battled through most of what’s available out there already, Kyn might be great for you. It works. It’s fine. There are bad guys to kill, people to save and magic to cast. There are even some pretty environments to see and songs to listen to as you do it. It’s just that, personally, I had a hard time while I was playing not thinking that I’d rather boot up Divinity, or Baldur’s Gate Enhanced. There are just too many games out there that do the same things, and better.