Kyn is an action RPG developed by Tangrin games. The studio is made by only 2 people who developed the art, code, level design and pretty much everything else with some help from contractors. This viking themed isometrc RPG is surprisingly enjoyable considering so few people worked on it and despite the fact it’s not free from flaws.
The story of Kyn starts with Bram and Alrik, two young Magni warrior apprentices that just completed their final trials to become mystical champions. At their return to the village of Vinborg, they find out that the Aeshir, usually peaceful forest creatures, suddenly became aggressive and started to attack human settlements. This introduction is pretty classic, but it leads later to interesting developments and a fairly deep storyline that will delve into the nature itself of the world. Nothing unforgettable and frankly the writing could use some improvements, but the story and the lore is well crafted enough to keep the player interested.
The game unfolds following a mission based advancement. At the end of every mission, you come back to the town, which changes with the proceeding of the game, so you can talk to the questgivers, shop for new items and reorganize your warriors’ specs. There’s a crafting system in the game, although it’s not a very complex one. Just talk to the blacksmith in town after you’ve unlocked it, and he’ll tell you the recipes he has available at the moment. If you have all the required reagents to build an item, you can give them to it to craft that weapon or armor. There’s a reagent vendor nearby that sells all the materials available in the game, but they can get pretty costly to buy the rarest ones so it’s advised to use it only if you miss a few reagents. Picking up the materials during the missions is the best course of action.
As mentioned before, you start with a party of two people. More magni warriors will join you while proceeding in the game, until you reach a full party of 6 people. When the party screen starts to become a bit too much crowded, it becomes difficult to issue orders to the characters in an efficient way. Luckily we have at our disposal a practical slow-mo button that will slow down the time until the meter is depleted. This way we’ll be able to position and issue commands to our warriors in the best way possible. Trust me, you’ll use that button quite a lot. Even if every character has only 3 skills in their bar—2 specialization skills and one feed skill—when you have to synchronize 6 of them, the slow-mo button becomes a pretty critical asset.
Character progression is pretty straightforward but at the same time dynamic enough to be quite interesting. Our warriors have 3 stats: Body, Mind, and Control (that roughly translate in the holy “Might, Magic, Adventure” trinity of RPGs). Every stat is linked to an identically named skill tree. Skill trees are divided in three columns that specialize the skills themselves. For example, the Body tree has three columns named Berserker (skills aimed to 2 handed axes wielders), Knight (skills aimed to buff allies) and Defender (tank skills that give taunts and shield actions). For every 15 points you invest in a stat, you unlock the following tier of the tree. That means 3 new skills to try (one for each column). There’s a fourth column in the skill trees: the Feed Skills column. These skills are more powerful and work pretty differently from the other ones. There are only three of them for each skill tree and need to be linked to a feed stone to work. There are 9 kinds of feed stone 3 for Body, 3 for Mind and 3 for Control—and when joined to a feed skill they add unique effects to it. Feed skills also need to be recharged and every feed stone recharge differently. For example, the Life feed stone recharges when someone nearby gets healed, while the Frost feed stone recharges absorbing the cold from the surrounding environment. 3 skills for a single character may not seem like a lot, but when you have 6 warriors on screen, it allows for pretty cool synergies. One of my favorite things to do is to make Sven, my assassin, teleport in the middle of an enemy group using Shadow Strike and then use the Magnetism feed skill to root everyone in place, allowing Nikolas, my archer, to make fire arrows rain among them.
Specs in Kyn are not set in stone. At any given moment, as long as you’re outside of combat, you can reset the skill points of your characters and redistribute them at will with no penalty. This is great to encourage players to try new skills and new party arrangements.
One of the best things about Kyn is that it rewards exploration. Even in what looks like a dead end, a treasure could await, maybe hidden behind one of the many clever puzzles that can be found around the world. It’s a joy to explore the world of Kyn thanks to its gorgeous looking landscapes. It may not be the most graphically impressive game, but it got everything in order on the aesthetic side, at least for landscapes and enemies. The main characters, on the other hand, look pretty bland.
Kyn is framed by a spot on musical theme. You’ll hardly find yourself humming the music while not playing the game, but both in town and during the missions the tunes do a wonderful job of setting the mood of the battle, or of the shopping.
Kyn is an enjoyable experience, but it’s pretty far from being a flawless one. The controls take a while to get accostumed to since you’ll have to learn how to select your characters via hotkeys unless you want to find yourself dragging squares on the screen all day long. There’s also some problem with the pathfinding. More often than not, you’ll have to micromanage your ranged fighters because they tend to shoot at the enemies when they don’t have a clear shot, resulting in them shooting a wall or a tree that are in the way repeatedly. Another time I found one of my characters stuck in debris created after a cutscene, and I had to switch to explosive skills in order to clear the path and proceed. Another little thing that created me some problems is the lack of an option to make your party assume a formation. Pretty often I found my dagger wielding assassin charge enemies in front of the group, with the tank right behind him, because when you group select your party, they move in whatever order they are. Having the option to set a default formation will help to avoid these kind of situations and would remove a good deal of annoying micro management.
One other thing that I have issues with is the difficulty pacing. I played the game switching between Normal and Hard difficulty. Sometimes I found myself absolutely steamrolling over everything at hard difficulty and then, in the same mission, a particular group of enemies would explode my party in a second with no clue of how. This disparity made me switch to Normal at times. Weirdly enough, rarely bosses me put me in a position where I had to reduce the difficulty.
Luckily, the developers showed in the time passed since the release of the game that they listen to feedback. In one of the latest patches, they introduced two features that were overlooked in the first build: the possibility to rotate the camera and access to the option menu without having to return to the main screen—a couple of things one would should take for granted, honestly. Glad they fixed it.
It took me around 13 hours to complete Kyn. I enjoyed the game enough, but I can’t think of a reason to play it again right away. The puzzles are solved and the storyline is completed. Choices in the game don’t influence the story enough to justify a second playthrough.
That does not mean that the game is not worth to be played. Quite the opposite. For that price point, $20, Kyn is a great investment for RPG fans. You can purchase Kyn on Steam, GOG or GreenMan Gaming.
Kyn was obtained from the developers and reviewed on PC.
Kyn is not a flawless game but is an interesting take on the topic of isometric RPGs. Worth taking a look at it.