Review: Kyn

You exit a mysterious cave brimming with power…are you Aladdin? No, you’re a Magni warrior. Strap on your axe and join the battle to protect your Kyn.

Genre(s): Tactical Role-playing Game

Developer Tangrin Entertainment

Publisher: Versus Evil

Release Date: July 2015

Played Main Story (Both Endings)

Platforms: PC

Purchase At: Steam, GOG

Good:

  • Interesting skill system.

  • Tactics are important.

  • Lovely visuals.

Bad:

  • Poor optimisation.

  • Difficulty wall.

  • Forgets settings.

Review

When the game opens you find yourself outside the Magni Trial cave and the only thing you know is you must return home to report your success in becoming a Magni. On the way you discover the Aeshir, one of the many races that coexist with humans, have gone berserk. They now attack and kidnap humans and burn their homes. On the way to save the various cities from their assault you find clues as to the nature of the Tri, stones held sacred by humanity, and their part in the Aeshir’s campaign.

Kyn’s plot is quite good and with an interesting twist to the typical “nonhumans are evil” kind of story, though it does use some of the more frequent tropes of this kind of plot. I saw every event coming a mile away but it’s due to familiarity with this type of story instead of a bad narrative. The reasoning behind the Aeshir madness is the best part of it, though you’ll have to wait till the end of the game for it. Sadly, while the story is good, the characters are a bit flat and there is a clear lack of world development. The non-human races only play as enemies, having no individuality or personality whatsoever. Even the Magni are a mystery. I would have loved to see the Magni cave at the start of the game and know more about what makes them what they are. How do these trials make them demigods? Beyond obeying their town Elders, what purpose do the Magni serve? I wanted answer for these questions and I didn’t get them, nor did I learn more of the species working with the Aeshir. One thing you do know is that humans in the world of Kyn suck, they’re all terrible people and it’s hard to feel any connection or sympathy for them.

Select your units and direct them to battle! Or death, that works too!

Select your units and direct them to battle! Or death, that works too!

Kyn is a hybrid of strategy and RPG, where tactical ingenuity is the most important thing, beyond your character’s individual skills. The way you go about every encounter will often have a direct impact on it.

Kyn’s controls are simple. Select your heroes the same way you would in an RTS and use right mouse-button to direct them, be it to a location or attack an enemy or simple interaction. Each hero has a set of skills bound to the Q, W and E keys. The E power is a Feed Skill, a special rechargeable ability that needs a Feedstone, an item that once socketed to the Feed-skill, alters its properties and determines the recharge conditions. For example, the Life feedstone recharges with each heal received and the Speed feedstone recharges just by moving. I loved the versatility this offered me, as I could have three Magni warriors with the same Feed skill but with three different stones for often completely different or synergistic effects. My two main archers, by the end of the game, had the same feed skill but two different stones: the first one increased the party’s attack speed tremendously, while the other lowered the enemies’ by the same amount. It turned battles around for me.

In terms of your general skills, Kyn does something really interesting. Instead of having stats and skills as separate mechanics, they’re both the same. Increasing your Body, Control or Mind stats increases your overall level in their corresponding skill tree, unlocking new brackets and feed skills the more points you dump into them. Increasing each stat gives you more health and spirit (read mana) but they give a boost to one particular stat as well. Body gives you extra health, Mind the same for spirit and Control increases your attacking speed. It’s a simple system with endless possibilities for combinations, to make your Magni be just the way you want him to be. Best part about it is that if you don’t like your build, you just need to press a button and it’ll reset your character.

The part that annoyed me, however, was the ‘levelling’. Unlike other RPGs where you gain levels by defeating enemies, in Kyn you gain new stats by completing missions, which means there is really no incentive for going out of your way to kill dangerous monsters. Sure, they drop better loot but that treasure will most often be in the form of crafting materials instead of actual gear. And with so many materials already dropping from regular enemies, “extra-curricular activities” become rather pointless.

At the end of each mission you’ll return to town to turn in quests and get better gear, crafted or bought. For the most part I bought the items I needed, because I was always missing one particular material component. But when I made my own stuff, the power level was considerably higher. If you can craft, then do it. Trust me, you’ll need it!

The inventory system could’ve used some refining, it’s rather clunky and going through the merchant’s item list can be a bit of a chore. Some filters to look for items wearable by a particular Magni would’ve gone a long way as well as a preview of what material you’d get by disassembling the item with the blacksmith.

The Hydras were my most hated and feared enemy. The little blobs can wreck you!

The Hydras were my most hated and feared enemy. The little blobs can wreck you!

I played Kyn on hard and in that difficulty the game doesn’t have a difficulty curve, it has a difficulty wall. Every level is an excruciatingly difficult sequence of encounters, where one bad move will cost you the entire fight and with Kyn’s loading, you don’t want to die, ever (more on that below). I lowered the difficulty—which you can at any point—down to normal with the Festr level boss fight because I found it impossible to complete, and noticed the difference between Normal and Hard was unreal. Something that dealt over 150 points of damage on Hard was dealing 40 in normal. In fact, the rest of the game, the last two levels in fact, are hilariously easy when lowered to Normal difficulty if you’ve been playing on Hard. On that difficulty, everything is over-tuned, especially bosses. With these, it’s not a matter of strategy but the fact you fight them in restricted arenas and they have area-wide damaging spells you can’t really avoid. The last stage of the game was painful even on normal, and I didn’t even want to imagine how bad it would be on Hard.

Kyn’s greatest problem is its poor optimisation on PC. Loading times are excessively long and the game has a tendency to lock up or even crash during them. I have played games with significantly higher requirements that loaded in less than half the time it takes Kyn to do so. And if the optimisation wasn’t bad enough the game has issues in managing your settings. No matter what you do with the game, if you have to reload, it’ll undo all your changes. I suspect they’re tied to your save files, and it just reloads your settings at the time, but it leads to quite a bit of a frustration. It’s already annoying enough that I have to re-set the camera every time a mission starts without having to re-do all my settings again.

Conversations are skippable for the most part!

Conversations are skippable for the most part!

When I played the game I discovered this problem with the music, which I had lowered as it was too loud with my headphones. I think I lost my hearing for a bit there after the constant resets. Don’t get me wrong, the music is phenomenal, it’s a fantastic set of atmospheric and battle pieces. One in particular that I really liked was in a beach-tropical level where the music was very Monkey Island-ish.

The game has no voice acting and while I don’t have a problem with that, it does make the unskippable scenes rather odd, as the game drags on the conversation for what I suspect is the time it would take someone to read their lines. Thankfully, these are rare and you can skip the rest if you’re a fast reader.

Visuals are interesting. The world map looks wooden, literally so, as if made by stacking slabs of painted wood. The characters follow the same example, with almost carved angular features. This gives them a cartoonish appearance that works really well for the bulky quarterback Viking Magni warriors. The environments on the other hand are beautifully detailed. My favourites are the seaside town I mentioned earlier and the Aeshir capital. They’re breathtaking and I wanted to take my time to explore every bit of them.

Kyn adds constraints to your missions, such as escorts for example!

Kyn adds constraints to your missions, such as escorts for example!

Conclusion

Kyn is a fantastic game with a few rough edges and optimisation/configuration issues. The plot is simple but the world it’s set in has tons of potential.

TMA SCORE:

4/5 – Exceptional

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