It takes two to tango... and make video games.
Have you ever felt like the Vikings just haven't gotten their fair share of the RPG landscape that is video games? Well thankfully the good developers at Dutch studio Tangrin Entertainment have assembled a Viking adventure RPG game that is surprisingly good, considering that only two programmers have worked on the game. That's right, two. Imagine two people from any other development team trying to make a game. A big congratulatory pat on the back is well deserved for those two, but the game is not without its faults which will certainly be covered in the following few walls of text that follow.
The Gist of Gameplay
Kyn is simple in its execution. The story is about Bram and Alrik, two Viking warriors who, through various meddling affairs, somehow manage to acquire ancient magic. It's not exactly an uncommon story plot, but it's still well executed and it doesn't hesitate to jump right into the gameplay. Through the use of a slightly too simple tutorial system (more on that in a bit,) the game helps you proceed forward to the next part of the story before eventually letting go of your hand and allowing you to explore and attack everything that moves. Games like Diablo, Dungeon Siege and Divinity: Original Sin spring to mind upon first playing the game.
If you're more than familiar with those kind of games, soon you'll be clicking that mouse and assigning hot key commands like a professional. There's no new ground being covered, but what's been put into the game is a linear 16-20 hour story told in eighteen missions that manages to keep up with a good pace and an interesting story from beginning to end. One can tell that the developers of the game put a lot of hard work into the story of Kyn, as every dialogue opportunity in the game expands the world further. You may not get a lot of replay out of a game like Kyn, but you'll be satisfied with what the main story has to offer.
Getting Some Class
Throughout the game you'll start to get more used to the flexible RPG system that Kyn has to offer, and along with that system comes talent trees and skill attributes galore. Yes, if upgrading is your forte, you'll get plenty of enjoyment out of what Kyn has to offer. Get used to upgrading because once more characters are added to this growing epic of a game (six characters total), you'll spend a long time upgrading and assigning skills to your different team members. The talent trees are associated with mind, body and control, and at the end of each completed quest you'll get a number of attribute points to help strengthen your characters' skills.
Weapons are also essential, and if you enjoy running around and finding the best loot for your characters, then Kyn is going to fulfill that Diablo-shaped hole in your heart. And don't worry about finding a weapon or armor that you can't use because you don't have enough points in the right category. You're able to customize how you distribute your points while not in combat, so that way you can change your gameplay style however you see it. It's this freedom to create your preferred character the way you want to that enables gamers to become more involved with the story and it's something that a lot of these action RPGs should have as the norm.
Eventually your skills will grow to a point where you can have special attacks for each characters. These attacks are quite fun to use and I found myself playing around with every special attack just to see what worked best for my play style. My personal favorite involved raising the dead and having skeletons attack my enemies, but that's just my inner necromancer looking to come out and cause some havoc.
Looking and Sounding Good
What's most delightful about this game is knowing that the Kyn developers aren't trying to rip off games that are similar to this one. Instead, they treat them more like homages and with every gameplay element and character reveal you'll start saying to yourself "Hey, that reminds of (awesome game)." At the same time, Kyn's story and addictive gameplay help make the game stand out from its predecessors and allow it to grow into its own unique identity. This is not a Dungeon Siege clone; this is a game that knows Dungeon Siege exists and would very much like to be placed in the same category.
If your computer can take it -- and most likely it can -- you should definitely set Kyn at the highest graphical settings because this game can look very pretty at the best of times, yet still look pretty basic at the worst. What I mean by that is that Kyn doesn't have quite the production value that similar games with bigger wallets have had, but what's there has been coated over with a finely-skilled paintbrush. Along with the great look comes the amazingly epic soundtrack that makes you want to put on some real-life Viking armor and pillage a country. I don't recommend doing that, but if you had to, Kyn's delightfully barbaric music would be the way to go.
Some Minor Missteps
Okay, enough mushing about this game. It's time to dig in deep and point out the flaws that the game has. They're minor flaws for the most part, but considering how nice the rest of the game is, these flaws tend to stick out like sore thumbs. For one thing, there's a bit of crashing from time to time. In my personal experience, one crash in particular after the game received an update caused me to lose my character file and start the game all over again. It might have been a fluke, but these moments have happened to a number of gamers and it's something that can only be improved with time and updates. Thankfully, Tangrin is very quick when it comes to patching the game up, so after the time of this writing, you may not experience any crashes. I envy you.
I also wasn't a fan of the way the menu and inventory system worked. Yes, you're able to find your items, but it's a rather awkward and bothersome system that it can be a real pain in the butt to try and get the items equipped for each player. Perhaps being spoiled by the easy navigation of modern gaming inventory systems has changed how I view these ancient systems, but it's an annoying thing to have to go through while the gameplay itself is so well done. The game is also lacking a fast travel system, so be prepared to walk long distances over and over and over again, especially when heading towards the next quest.
Not a Bad Start
There is definitely something to enjoy from Kyn. If you've been playing Diablo 3 and Divinity: Original Sin to the bone and are looking for something new to try, then Kyn is definitely your best bet at the moment. Plus, the developers are continuing to update the game, so a better version is always on its way with each patch. It's not the next big thing in video gaming, nor is it the next big thing in its own game category, but it certainly does more good than bad and it's a welcomed addition to the action RPG family, a family that I hope continues to grow in the years to come.
This game was reviewed on PC using a Steam copy provided by Versus Evil.
Images courtesy of Versus Evil and Tangrin Entertainment.