Kyn bills itself as “a fast paced role playing strategy game” combining “party based combat with progression and exploration.” More concisely, Kyn is a Diablo-like game. It has an over the head camera, more loot than you’d know what to do with, mobs that are large in quantity and varied in type, and sprawling levels. Though, we wonder if Kyn set itself apart from the numerous other games in the genre.
Kyn starts off rather simply. It’s the story of two guys, Alrik and Bram, who just completed their months-long trial of being sealed in a cave. They have now become Magni warriors who can command the powers of the Magni gems. Immediately, they come to realize that things on the outside have gone awry. The local tribes of Aeshir, which appear to be orcs, have suddenly gone from peaceful coexistence to besieging human towns and turning the dead into their skeleton army. Things slowly get more complicated as you progress through Kyn’s story. In your quest to save the world, you will encounter bosses, a variety of mobs, puzzles and branching paths, and you’ll make new friends who will join your party.
Unfortunately for Kyn, its story never feels like it carries much weight and urgency. It generally feels superficial and provides little attachment to your party’s characters or the fantasy world they inhabit. While most NPCs can be engaged, their dialog rarely reveals deep lore about the world of Kyn. The game boasts itself as being based on Viking mythology, but the Viking-ness feels like it was used as backdrop and not something that sets it apart from the crowd.
Like its storyline, Kyn’s gameplay also feels a bit undercooked. From the get go, you’re asked to choose a difficulty level but what to expect from a higher or lower difficulty goes explained. The higher difficulties are certainly harder but not enjoyably so. There are no tutorial levels in Kyn. The gameplay conventions are explained in text through pop-ups that must be explicitly clicked; and these are all explained within the game’s help menu. One could say that Kyn is more of a learn-as-you-play kind of game. I suspect most people playing Kin are familiar with the genre and don’t really need to be explained everything that Kyn has to offer. If you’ve played any modern RPG, everything in Kyn will seem very familiar and therein lies the problem. Quite frankly, Kyn feels like every other top-down RPG I’ve played before; from the menu design to the level design and artwork, but also all of it is a bit watered down.
Kyn does one thing a bit differently: you are able to re-spec your character any time outside of battle. Your ranged character can have his attribute points completely reassigned to become a two-handed axe-wielding tank. It’s a neat feature that comes in handy when an archer joins your party and you happen to already have an archer. You can respec your party exactly the way you want it without ever being limited to the predefined character stats. Respecing also comes in handy during moments when you must split up your party. A lone archer can be respected as a short range character to better handle hordes of short range enemies. Best of all, it’s all really easy to do because, perhaps to the game’s own demise, the skill tree is rather simple.
As far as presentation is concerned, Kyn certainly has some decent production values. Many of the levels are sprawling if also labyrinthine. There’s enough detail and variation that the world of Kyn at least looks like it has a history. The overworld map curiously feels like a nod to HBO’s introductory sequence in Game of Thrones. Though Kyn looks pretty enough, there are six predefined graphical quality settings to choose from, with the lowest still looking pretty swell. The greatest resource hogging effects can be turned off individually.
Perhaps one thing I would have liked about Kyn’s presentation is the inclusion of voice work. With no voice work present, Kyn feels rather quiet but perhaps that was for the best as the banter between characters is not particularly interesting or amusing. Kyn does have a serviceable sound track, only it too sounds like every other game.
There are a few software issues to note but they are small and perhaps even trivial. The HUD doesn’t seem to be optimized for lower resolutions, so some interface elements can feel a bit too big at resolutions similar to 720p. Though camera rotation is available, Kyn’s maps don’t seem to have been designed with it in mind. If you get too close to the map’s edge and rotate your view, you’re likely to see an awkward straight edge at the end world. In my entire playtime with Kyn, I didn’t encounter any game-breaking bugs. At its worst, Kyn simply didn’t seem to stick to windowed resolutions and often reverted to full screen.
So where does Kyn stand amidst the plethora of games vying for consumers’ entertainment dollars? As a top-down RPG, Kyn isn’t particularly special, though it certainly feels like it has potential. Its $20 asking price is rather attractive to budget-minded gamers and I do feel that it presents a decent entertainment value. Kyn can be purchased on Steam’s DRM platform or you can get it DRM-free on GOG. Kyn’s developers have also been very responsive to their user base and have released several updates and patches that have addressed issues, so I only expect Kyn to improve. Kyn may not be a triple-A title but it’s definitely not as pedestrian as a mobile game nor does it milk you with in-game purchases.