Thursday, October 17, 2013

PC Spotlight #27: Kenshi

Title: Kenshi
Developer: Lo-fi Games
Platforms: PC
Price: $19.99
When I first saw Kenshi, I thought it was some kind of Japanese samurai simulator. Then I noticed the industrial landscapes. the technology, the other incongrous aspects. Kenshi isn't set in Japan. It may not even be set on Earth. Across this expansive desert landscape, you choose where to go, what to do, and create your own destiny

Perhaps the closest analog to Kenshi would be the medieval sim Mount & Blade. Like that game, you start Kenshi with relatively nothing, maybe a sword and some credits if you choose a certain origin, but still you're on your own in this weird futuristic-industrial wasteland. The game is simple to control: right click on an area to move your character there, left click to interact with NPCs and objects. Different menu options modify your movement and other factors. Combat isn't a direct affair; you can set defensive modes but fighting is very hands-off. Kenshi's focus isn't on the combat though, it's on starting from nothing and building something. Recruit other travelers, build your tribe, wander the craggy dunes. Settle down, build a fortress, a trading post, a settlement. Construct defenses, walls, armories, research labs, power sources, taverns. Defend your homestead from invaders, expand your influence, make alliances, make enemies. 
Kenshi offers a large variety of possibilities and potential, but there were still some glaring flaws, the most critical being the camera. The camera is extremely finnicky and just overall hard to control. It doesn't stay locked on to your character and is just a pain to constantly adjust and move around. The menus felt clunky and difficult to navigate, which is a problem when a lot of the game is controlled through selecting options and choices through menus. Furthermore, the game desperately needs a longer, structured tutorial to explain the game's numerous facets.
Kenshi is still in alpha and still very much a work in progress, but is a game with incredible promise and potential. The most recent update added audio and a soundtrack, armor crafting, new origin options, and other features. A lot more is planned for the full game, ranging from various faction like police and cannibals to dynamic weather and new environments to survival elements such as hunger and thirst and AI improvements. You can purchase Kenshi from the developer's site and Steam.

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