Vikings! These legendary warriors of the north hold a special place in my heart. Maybe it’s because I love running around wearing a horned helmet, scaring passers-by with my battle cry and impressive beard. In any case, I was thrilled to try out Kyn, a tactical RPG from Tangrin Entertainment that’s all about vikings doing what vikings do best: murder.
In Kyn, you control the Magni Warriors, viking heroes with monster-crushing, fireball-spewing power who protect the land from the villainous Aeshir. Your heroes will wander the land doing, uh, pretty typical light role-playing stuff. Save this village, slay this monster, fetch these objects…it’s all in a day’s work for a Magni Warrior.
None of it matters all that much, unfortunately, and everyone feels more than a little flat. I’d like to say I cared deeply about the personalities of the Magni heroes and their reasons for fighting the Aeshir, but I’d be lying through my teeth. You won’t do quests because you care about the characters or how they’ll deal with different situations; you’ll do them because you get skill points for doing so.
Sometimes you’ll run into puzzles to solve as well, but these are largely low-impact affairs that are made artificially difficult by the fact that you have to work on them in an isometric viewpoint. You’ll spin totems around or carefully tiptoe around traps, hoping that the mouse controls don’t get your team killed. In any case, Kyn’s not really a game about story or puzzles. it’s a game about vikings killing loads of baddies.
How fortunate, then, that the real highlight of Kyn is the game’s combat system. This is a tactical RPG affair reminiscent of games like Baldur’s Gate or Pillars of Eternity. You can’t pause like you might in those games; instead, you’ve got a limited-use time-slowing ability that gives you more time to make decisions. If your characters are built right this proves to be enough, and I didn’t find Kyn an especially difficult game if you make sure to save often.
Character development revolves around a classless setup that allows you to design your viking warriors however you wish. You’ve got Body, Control and Mind stats to pump using skill points earned after completing quests, and reaching breakpoints in these stats will unlock new abilities. Focusing on a character’s Body, for instance, eventually leads to a heavily armored axe-swinging badass, while a heavily Mind-focused character could incinerate foes with a fire blast. There are also customizable Feedskill abilities powered by magic stones that allow a little more of a personal touch.
The most interesting aspect of this is the ready availability of respecs; you can switch points around whenever you wish outside of combat, meaning that axe-swinging badass and fire blast-spewing mage might well be the same character. This lack of permanence is simultaneously convenient and bizarre – sure, it’s great that you aren’t locked into character development decisions and forced to start the game over if you don’t like the results, but at the same time it feels like there aren’t significant consequences to the choices you make. As a result, Kyn’s not a game with very much replay value.
There’s plenty of gear to suit characters of all three types, so you’ll look appropriately viking-ish as the games goes on. You’ll craft much of this gear yourself; as you play, you’ll accumulate massive piles of junk and turn it into gear between quests, gear that largely outstrips what you’ll find in the field and purchase from merchants. The nod to player agency when it comes to what you wear is nice, but it renders money and commerce largely useless.
Kyn’s biggest selling point would probably be the game’s graphics. They’re gorgeous, displaying the Norse landscape in fantastic detail on par with your average AAA title. Even spell animations manage to impress, including the aforementioned Feed spells. You won’t mind watching Kyn’s battles play out, at least. What’s more, the music suits the setting in a fantastic way. I had very few issues with Kyn from a presentation standpoint, though I’ll admit that you might run into the odd bug here and there.
In the end, the biggest reason I can recommend Kyn with a clear conscience is that the game’s fairly inexpensive with a price-tag just around $20. You’re looking at around 20 hours of gameplay here, more or less, and it’s actual gameplay you’ll enjoy if you have a fondness for older isometric RPGs. Don’t come in expecting to read through a grand, convoluted tale; but if you’re hankering to want to watch bearded vikings beat people up, Kyn will do its job just fine.