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Kenshi Preview

Kenshi Preview

Kenshi is an "open-ended, squad-based Strategy RPG" according to one man design team, Lo-Fi Games. It certainly lives up to that so far, even in early alpha. Your goal will not be to save the world or purge it of a great evil, your goal will simply be to survive. Everything will be built around your survival.

It's worth noting early on this is, as mentioned, early alpha and as such, things will be fixed, changed and rearranged by the time it releases properly; however what is in place is a groundwork for something special. There'll be no hand holding here, you won't run to NPC X to get a quest finishing at NPC Y, no. You begin as a humble nobody, literally. You choose your base character from a few options, such as trader, wanderer etc... then work your way through the skeleton of a sizeable character creation screen, with sliders and options galore and then you get dumped into the world. Go do whatever you like.

Depending on your initial choice, it will determine what you start out with; for example selecting a trader as a base will outfit you with basic clothes and a backpack full of goods to start your trading career. You start with no money because you spent the last of it on your current possessions. Start as a Freedom Seeker and you'll get 1000 of the games currency, some building materials and a few other men in your squad to start building your own personal outpost.

The game takes controls from most noticeably, the RTS genre, with the option to control one single unit or dragging the mouse over multiple/all of them to control them at once. This can be used to move them from one place to another, engage a group of enemies or build something. On a technical level it's simple to control, but on a practical level you have to decide what's going to be best for your party. Despite creating your character at the start, there is no 'main' character, no heroes with artificially higher stats; everyone in the game world is the same, only some will have better equipment than you, meaning the start can be a real struggle.

You can hire more people to your cause, however, by visiting bars and paying for them to join you. This can lead to you roaming the 400-square kilometre game world with two men or fifty by your side; it's entirely up to you and the way you want to play. It's a good idea to get a few men to begin with, though, as times are tough and the world is a dangerous one. My first experience with Kenshi involved me getting dropped into the middle of a desert, running fifty feet to the left, getting attacked by three bandits then dying of blood loss on the ground.

The combat plays a big role here, with massive battles being possible. It's not overly complicated; it doesn't follow any board game rules. You simply have a man with multiple 'health' bars relating to different body parts/organs, and if the bars deplete low enough you can incur a penalty. If you suffer too much damage to your left leg, you'll limp on your right for support, if your sword arm is damaged you won't be able to put up much of a fight; if your internal organs are damaged you are as good as dead without fast healing. Armour can be purchased/looted to negate some of this and as time goes on you'll progressively become more adept at battling the odds set against you. You don't level up in the typical fashion; you just obtain better protection and weapons as you go, lending it a natural progression as opposed to simple putting a point into a certain ability.

The people you take into combat with you are as important as you yourself. As mentioned there's no real main character; the character you created can and likely will die, but you'll play on with the others you've attained over time. If you lose them all it's game over, man. The AI can be pretty smart though, even in this early version. An injured party member may run during a fight to try and recover his strength, whereas if he gets downright injured another party member may step out of the fight in an attempt to drag him to safety.

This is all of course assuming you want to fight the world. You may want to be a trader, a builder, an explorer. You can leave the fighting to others and simply wander off to build your own hub. Once far away enough from one of the game's towns, you can construct your own buildings. This is done in a standard RTS fashion - selecting the building, then where you want to put it. Once it's down then you can send some of your party to build it, assuming you have the required materials. This can lead to small outposts to full cities being built by the player, and you can then go on to trade with existing NPC cities or simply move on and start over.

The game isn't looking great at the minute thanks to its development stage, but as with most other things in the game, the groundwork is there; character models should look different from one NPC to the next, buildings and the desert world you'll inhabit have an almost Tatooine vibe and the seamless massive world is already running well. Just be prepared for things like glitchy animations and text not fitting in boxes properly, should you try it.

If Kenshi is something you think may be of interest to you, then you can gain access to the alpha right now by purchasing it from Steam or directly from the developer. This will grant you alpha access as well as every update from now until the game stops being updated. I will certainly be revisiting Kenshi with each update to find out what has changed and, more importantly, to see if I can survive for more than one in-game week without a horrible blood-loss related death.

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Ewok - 01:31pm, 4th December 2018

This sounds pretty cool. I love a good sandbox and really like the idea of getting a group together and building a little township somewhere.

icaruschips - 01:31pm, 4th December 2018 Author

it's really a shame it's not online. I think it would be brilliant getting a group of say, four or so friends then all heading in different directions with your groups of NPC's, building small towns then setting trade routes with each other and such. Still, a brilliant way to kill a lot of time here. It's also never going to get old when you run out of... blood... mid way through a fight. You're running away then all of a sudden you just fall over and lie unconscious. Sunrise to sunset, not quite dead so it's not game over yet, then boom, someone comes and kicks you in the face and you're boned.

Emseypenguin - 01:31pm, 4th December 2018

I really like the sound of this to be honest...I def be one of those who sets up shop somewhere!