So this one's going to be a bit difficult. Because Kyn is a game with a lot of nice ideas that are held back by "lackluster" execution. Now, before we start, a couple of things needs to be addressed:
1) I've only played three missions so far, that might sound little, but he each mission is quite big (more on that later).
2) As a person, I'm quite resistant to "poor execution". I tend to not get worked up by lacking games. For me, gaming is a hobby, and when I'm not entertained, I turn the game off. So, since I'm still playing Kyn, there is something entertaining here. It's just a little bit buried.
So, what is Kyn? It's a hack 'n' slash RPG with a heavier emphasis on strategy than many of it's peers. Think Diablo, but vikings, and instead of you being one dude taking on the hordes of hell, you're a team of up to six vikings taking on the hordes of.... middle earth (or Midgård, that's what we call it, but it means pretty much the same). Oh, yes, there's Vikings, lot's of 'em. The game is steeped in viking aesthetics and lore. And it is here where we encounter our first problem.
See, I like vikings. One can say that they're "my kind of people". When you write a story about vikings, you technically have a lower threshold for the complexity of the story. It is great if you make an interesting and complex story, but if you don't, well, it's VIKINGS. Those kind of dudes known for sailing around and smashing things. So if you're story is a simple story of smashing things (and maybe some sailing), you're pretty much covered by the common idea of what a viking is.
The problem in this game is that the writing is just so dull. There is no real character to anything. It's just so bog standard. It feels like the text displayed on the screen was written separately from whatever else on the screen. It's quite jarring. Especially when all you really needed to do was something like: "AAARRRGH! We steal all your things, smash everything too big and burn everything nailed down!"
Another small problem is the dialogue between your characters. Whenever they have something to say, a small speech-bubble appears over their heads with the text. Said bubble is surprisingly hard to spot, since this is a tactical game, where all your attention is drawn to where you are positioning your guys and what they are attacking. Thankfully, all the dialogue is stored in a log on the left hand side of the screen.
The game looks, on the other hand, really nice. I like the cartoony aesthetic of the game. The colors "pop" and the models look nice. The problem here, though, comes in the way of effects, or lack there of. There are very little effects in the game for when your characters are using certain skills. So it's sometimes hard to tell if your character even used said skill. This wouldn't be so bad if the game wasn't so heavy on the tactical side, since the use (or misuse) of a skill might put your party on the wrong footing in many battles.
While the lack of effects might make the tactical combat a bit sketchy, it is still fun. Every party member can be equipped with two skills and one special skill at any time. You can switch these on the fly whenever your are not in combat. The skills can be anything from healing abilities, special attacks to curses and traps. There is a lot of variety and the puzzle of creating a nice and effective band of vikings is fun. The special skills are extra powerful skills that are dependent on magical stones. What kind of stone you equip your character with changes the behavior of the skill. This is an interesting system, but the need to collect these stones limits it's use in the early game.
Another fun mechanic that helps make the combat interesting is the fact that you can slow down time by hitting the space bar. You can't play in slow-mo indefinitely, since it uses a special kind of energy that recharges whenever it's not in use. This ability allows you to quickly change the orders of your party, allowing you to respond quickly to any given situation in the fight. All of these positive things I've had to say about the combat comes with one big asterisk (*) , and that is that you will probably need to change up the controls before you start the game.
See, there's this one big not-bug-but-feature-thing in this game. If you move your mouse over to the edges or the top of the screen, the screen moves in that direction, like any old strategy game. But if you move the mouse to the bottom of the screen, and happen to have the pointer anywhere on to of the UI, nothing will happen. This felt awfully clunky and was only helped with me re-configuring the controls to move the screen with the WASD-keys. Which, of course, meant that the actions programmed to those buttons had to be moved.
To end it off on some positive ground, I'd like to talk a bit about the stats and crafting, both of which are really nice. You have three main stats in the game: Mind, body and control. Each one affecting different parts of your character. You can reapply any skill-points at any time when you are not in combat, so you technically can't gimp your character. This allows you to switch character roles on the fly, which makes for some fun times. The game doesn't have levels, instead each character automatically gains 5 skill points per completed mission. So there's no under-leveling and no character gimping.
The most accurate way for me to describe the crafting system would be: "involved". There are several different categories of material, like wood and stone. Each category also has several tiers or quality material, like rough stone and solid stone. To add some extra spice, there are also several different categories of magical materials to be found. You collect these materials during your adventures and take them to your village blacksmith (who's also your daddy, so Dadsmith?) for use. The game seems to favor the crafting system over the regular bartering, since most of the crafted gear is better than what you can buy or find out on missions.
All in all, I like Kyn. I recognize the fact that the game is flawed, but I can oversee said flaws because of its nice aesthetic and involving game-play. The studio behind the game, a certain Dutch indie called Tangrin Entertainment, seems new and un-tested. And while they might have made some weird mistakes, the sheer volume of the game and its systems is impressive.
It took me a full 24 hours to realize that I had promised something in the beginning of this article and totally forgot to talk about it. Rather than trying to fit it in somewhere, I'll just out it here. This way I don't have to re-write much, and my mistake will stand as a reminder to myself. So, about those missions?
The general structure of the game works like this: You go out on a mission, visit a fairly large map to do said mission and then you return to your home village to re-supply and pick up a new mission. The maps you play on are fairly large, non-linear and filled with little nooks for you to explore. While every mission might sound fairly straight-forward, it will take you some time to complete because you will trek across this map both for the mission and for the pleasure of exploring.
The areas are fairly varied. Well, varied enough for a fantasy game about vikings. But since we can't have nice things, there is a problem here as well. The maps are fine, it's just that the loot and rewards you find on the maps tend to be quite lack-luster. This seems to be another trade-off from the heavy emphasis on the crafting-system. Since you'll find tons of material, but not many actual pieces of useful gear. To me, that's not so bad, since I enjoy the crafting. But it is very understandable for someone more inclined to traditional looting to feel underwhelmed.