EA SCOUT the last line of defense for buying on Steam's Early Access
by Sergio Brinkhuis
previewed on PC
Sandbox survival games are popping out of the woodwork as if there was no tomorrow. Some task you with the survival and well-being of a single character, others put you in charge of building a new society complete with houses, farms and some form of entertainment or another. The latter approach, that of building a new society, appeals to me the most. The solitude of a single character stuck on some deserted island, remote planet or fantasy forest just gets boring a little too fast.
The Kindred starts you off with 6 characters - or Kins - that are dropped off on an uninhabited island, along with some livestock, seeds, food and a bunch of building materials - enough to survive for a short while. For long-term survival, tools, a crafting bench, a cooking station and a melting pot are the base ingredients required to create a new home for your little dudes and dudettes. The twist here is that you are doing all this in the modern age. Where most survival games put you either forward or backward in time, The Kindred puts you squarely in the modern age with electricity and every other modern comfort available. Few of these are actually available right from the start. It is hard work to turn the island into a modern town but it can be done.
Don’t forget food
The scope of the Early Access version initially feels a little bigger than it actually is. You can craft tools and objects, build fences and houses, herd and tend to livestock, grow and harvest food and obtain new building materials through mining and chopping down trees. That sounds like a lot already but unless you are into simply building stuff you will have gone through most of what the game has to offer in a day or two, and that is stretching it.
What is in store, though, looks promising. In future versions The Kindred will multiply, form families, get hot, cold and sick. You know… experience life! There will be seasons and therefore food stores to keep track of, housing and heating to keep your Kins warm, medicine to keep them healthy and more. None of that is in at the moment. This means that there is no real challenge and the only costly mistake you can make is to forget to provide food and very little of what you do feels significant. Even providing shelter does not actually improve your Kins’ lives. It’s like playing Minecraft, but a little less fun.
From a technical standpoint, the basic mechanics that are there are fully functional. Some early bugs were quickly squashed by the developers and since then it’s been smooth sailing for me. Better yet, recent updates have also improved the interaction with the fame world. Initially I ended up with in sorts of trouble, like building fences on top of other fences without meaning to, getting lost in the various crafting windows, and driving my Kin crazy by queuing too many commands causing my farms to go untended. There are areas where there is precious little feedback so many of these things went undetected for some time. But now fences are easy to build, crafting is much more intuitive and Kin can be assigned jobs so that they can focus and don’t run all over the island to do your bidding.
The Kindred is a charming looking game with the potential to become a truly interesting “build your own society” simulator. There is lots of work to be done, though. This Early Access version is little more than the foundation upon which all the cool stuff will be built. For some of you that will be more than enough, perhaps you will even see it as a chance to influence how the game will turn out. For others, there’s not enough substance to partake and for that reason I will stick with a “watch” recommendation.
The game has potential, but we're not ready to jump in with both feet. If the game interests you, look, but don't touch - yet.