Kenshi – Review
Follow Genre: Action/Adventure RPG
Developer: Lo-Fi Games
Publisher: Lo-Fi Games
Platforms: PC
Tested on: PC

Kenshi – Review

Site Score
4.3
Good: Audio effects are really interesting
Bad: Too much freedom can be a bad thing
User Score
3.2
(6 votes)
Click to vote
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Rating: 3.2/10 (6 votes cast)

Kenshi is a game that was developed by Lo-Fi Games. It was initially released back in 2013 on the 20th of March. That’s when the game was in Early Access. It did get released in half the time it took for Square Enix to release the 15th instalment in the Final Fantasy series, so that’s to be lauded at least. When looking at Lo-Fi Games, it becomes apparent they’ve put all their eggs in one basket because Kenshi is the only game they’ve developed so far. This means they have full confidence in their vision of the game. That can both be a merit and a demerit. It’s good to have faith, but too much of it can cause folly and lead into ruin. Unless it’s a smashing hit and your hard work has paid off. That’s all it takes to make it, just one shot. It’s just a question if Kenshi can line it up correctly.

Story

This is going to be short. There is none. That’s not a hyperbole. There’s no narrative or story telling backbone holding the game together. When you start, the tutorial even outright states this. It makes it so you, as the player, have full reign over the stakes of your characters, being able to form them completely to your expectations with an entirely invented background and past, including the skeletons in the closet. Maybe your squad is on the run or the reason the world has gone to shit. Maybe they are the ancestors of the antagonists of other games.

Another way to look at the lack of a story, is laziness on the developers part. It’s easy not to ruin a game with a lacklustre narrative bogging down the experience by omitting it altogether. Whatever you choose, you’re in charge of inventing a narrative.

Graphics

This is where Kenshi shows off the first flaw. The game looks like shit. The only thing that’s mildly interesting is the character designer, everything from there on out is really bad to look at.

There’s the landscapes which look completely dated, with texture popping, unclear terrain, and a UI that’s so muddled it hampers the experience. Then there’s the fact that the camera, which is controlled with W,A,S,D or the mouse, shudders at the edges if you move it too far from the characters. It’s like this, only when your characters move can you move the camera further away from where they are going, so you can’t fully see what the map has to offer. Which kind of defeats the purpose of giving the player full freedom to go wherever they want if you don’t even let players see the full breadth of the map to find out where they want to go next. There’s also a very bad issue where the camera clips through terrain and you can zoom into and out of the map, which works disorienting.

Sound

This is where Lo-Fi Games did something interesting. Only if you up the volume to the max do you hear something, so best fiddle with it before you start playing. Even then you might not hear something at first, when you are fully zoomed out. It’s only when you zoom into your characters that you hear the full scope of the audio. Whenever a battle is going on, you can hear the fighting clearer as you zoom in. This is very cool and whether or not it was intentional it’s something that the developer should be praised for. It makes you want to get involved in the fights.

Gameplay

Kenshi is an open world RPG. It gives the player full freedom. That’s not an understatement. Not at all. This is also Kenshi’s biggest flaw. It can be its biggest asset, but with most players it will give them the feeling that they are lost without even a goal to work toward.

Sure you can mine a lot and see if you can strike it rich by selling  your wares. That is if you don’t end up being attacked by random enemies who’ll then kick your ass if you are unprepared. This scenario is interesting –maybe even slightly annoying – as you might be killed or enslaved. The latter can be undone by breaking free. Then again you’ll stay branded as a slave and you might be captured again. Also, if your squad gets downed and knocked out and you are wounded, then that’s it. Game over basically, because you can’t heal your characters if they are knocked out and thus are prone to dying to their wounds. Maybe a slight oversight on the developers’ part.

The game boasts how you can enter a town and start selling your wares, making it possible to slowly build up an empire that starts slow but grows, giving players incentive to want to explore and find loot to sell. The only problem lies in the fact that you’ll never know if a town is friendly or not, so  you might encounter a town that could possibly have the food you and your squad desperately needs, but it could also be a death trap as the populace of said town races at you with the intent to kill, which is a sure fire way for you to have to reload an earlier save. So save often. Even then you might come across a group of nomads who are out for your blood. This makes the game both exhilarating and frustrating.

Conclusion

When looking at Kenshi, you have to wonder if you really want to play a game with no rules and one that won’t hold your hand whatsoever, where even the tutorial seems to make fun of you. If you manage to struggle through the first hours, there’s some fun to be had in it, but the first hours can be quite torturous. If you want a game that tries to hold up the facade about being at least finished then Kenshi won’t pull you in, even if you are an avid fan of RPGs. It needs a lot more polish to become something worth investing time into.

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 3.2/10 (6 votes cast)
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Kenshi - Review, 3.2 out of 10 based on 6 ratings
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First game ever was Crash Bandicoot 3 Warped, ever since then, gaming has been something that I've gravitated to. Reading's fun but not as interactive. Always up for a bout of online multiplayer. If that multiplayer is co-op. So if you are up for a friendly co-op session, hit me up. Rahenik's the name to search on PSN.

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