You think you know the drill. You create your character, contemplate the difference between races, and fiddle with sliders for hours until your character looks like something you’re pleased with, but then you hop in and end up being completely lost as to what you’re supposed to do or how. You have now entered the wonderful world of simulation-heavy roleplaying games!
In its simplest form, you direct your character(s) by mouse clicks to auto attack, pick at rocks or just run around the vast map. Kenshi starts you off with a backstory of your choice, complete with a suggested play style. Ranging from trading, action, real-time strategy, and finally to “Wanted Criminal”, in which a religious faction named The Holy Nation wants you brought in alive.
Factions are numerous, all with their niche from running mines, slaves, or hives each to varying success. The Holy Nation will welcome you with open arms, treat you family and protect you in their cities and outposts – provided you’re a human male and carrying their holy book, so it can be very tempting to spite them by creating an alien female character with the “Wanted Criminal” beginning.
Life starts fair, some beginnings land you with more money or friends in a safe area. The major difficulties come with figuring out how to stay alive. I realized that it had been some time since I last played a game just to play with the world, and due to the openness of it all, and a lack of blaring mission objective indicators, I had to ask the community.
The community’s answer was simple: pretend you’re something. So, I pretended I was a guard standing at the gates, getting bored and smacking evildoers – the things guards do. Knowing how most of the
concepts work, I decided to get caught by The Holy Nation, placed in jail, and watched as my 405 in-game hours of imprisonment slowly ticked away. As the guards were polite enough to take care of my wounds after beating me up, I attempted to pick the jail cell lock and escape, only to be beaten up and thrown back due to not being stealthy enough in my attempt. Eventually, I was shipped out in a caravan to a life of slavery, in which my character had an automated job system activated for manual labour. You’re always given the option to disable it and try to make a break for it, but as an unprepared slave, it may cost you your life.
Returning to the squad-based aspect, constructing an outpost is another approach you can take. While outposts enable you to farm, research technologies and craft equipment, they also paint a target over your head. Bandit raids can be tough and annoying, especially since the combat is built to favour one-on-one engagements, but sometimes you luck out and a friendly patrol crosses their path.
It’s difficult to explain Kenshi without making it sound like fanfiction because that is what Kenshi enables. Simulation games breed fantastic tales, and with the world living through constant power struggles, it often has something new to offer. Failure is an option, and some endings can be quite beautiful, even if it means you have to start all over again. Still, you’re free to choose whether or not to load a previous save after making a mistake too difficult to recover from.
While Kenshi can be hard to get into, it can be very difficult to get away from as well. After a few fresh starts, I find myself avoiding the game due to the slow pacing, but holding out for long enough can make you and your community dangerous enough to try and, for example, destroy the Holy Nation altogether, and what a story that would make.
Publisher Lo-Fi Games
Developer Lo-Fi Games
Release Date 6.12.2018
Genres Action, Indie, RPG, Simulation, Strategy
PEGI Not rated (16+ recommended by the author)
Photos Screenshots from Kenshi (Lo-Fi Games 2018), taken by the author.
A game enjoyer interested in the educational potential of games, enthralled by simulations, adventure, and role-playing games. Aiming to figure out what makes them tick all the right boxes and painting a cohesive picture on the allure of games.