You know how most games promise choice then really only give you a few options? Like if you really just want to be a civilian but you keep getting thrown into fights and battles? Kenshi cut through that and brings the purest form of sandbox I've ever seen.
There is no story in Kenshi. You make your own. This is what surprised me. You have a lot of paths to go down (ie: slave, farmer, warrior, etc.), but you, with experience, can move on and progress. It's pure sandbox mixed with progression and events. And unlike some failed sandbox games, there''s enough variance so it isn't constant. Tedium in the same quests. It's amazing, and I wish you could have this level of choice in AAA games, because then I'd never stop playing them. You know, the best times I had playing those games was when I created my own storyline. This one not only allows it but encourages it and helps you make your own stories possible.
Controls can be ….complicated. There's so much to do that you're going to have a lot of samey ways to do things. I really messed up when I was building a fortress and I kept deleted things I wanted to keep. It could have been better laid out, but it does do the trick. Expect frustration here though.
Graphics are a real low point. It looks like PS2 graphics at times and all the players tend to look almost the same. The ground itself is quite badly rendered, with graphics added in the game to add depth, like far off mountains, ending up looking like cheap paper cutouts. It's....not pretty. Monsters are at least as horrifying as you'd expect, as poorly rendered designs keep up the horror.
Gameplay is pretty much do whatever you want. Want to farm? Be a slave? Be a warrior? Be mayor? Walk the earth? Then do it and do it well! A lot of this is pure fantasy fulfillment, and it really works. For many activities, like farming, it starts off simple as basic crop things, but soon you''re defending farms and taking out monsters, so there is a curve to keep things interesting. Again, the gameplay itself is pretty simple, but the sheer amount of options and thought put into this makes up for that.
Sound and music. I'll go directly from my notes here, because its short sweet and to the point:
Music: This is like rejected Fallout music. Like original Fallout music. I like it.
Sound: “Did they just copy and paste the sound set from Age of Empires II? I think they did that.”
That gives you the idea.
The frame rate wasn't great. When I zoomed in it would get really framey really fast. The fps just sunk like a rock the more that happened on the screen. Most of the time movements didn't look fluid and looked glitchy. I didn't experience any glitches besides the obvious clipping issues but frame rate was pretty big.
For all the problems Kenshi has it can be forgiven simply because of the idea behind being whoever you want to be. There''s no “You must choose this good path” - you choose whatever path you want because there are none. To me, that kind of choice just scrubs away all the other faults. It's still not perfect because all of those, but I'd say play Kenshi – it has a hell of a lot of potential and should be what every game strives for in choice. Like they say in their trailers - you aren't the chosen one. And it never felt so good.
Final Score: 7 out of 10
A copy of this game was provided for the purpose of review.