We Been Spending Most Our Lives Living in A Grinder’s Paradise…

Preface Note: Game was pur­chased by the review­er, not pro­vid­ed by the devel­op­er.

Kenshi is avail­able on Steam, for $20 USD and is present­ly in an alpha state. Anything fea­tured in this arti­cle may change with new updates. This is using the cur­rent sta­ble (most­ly) ver­sion of 0.69.2, with an option to jump to the exper­i­men­tal (And unsta­ble) 0.70.x, or 0.71.x, or 0.72.x. It is devel­oped by Lo-Fi Games, by a six per­son team at present, with the music by Kole Audio Solutions.

Rules of Nature

Kenshi – Grind or Die

0daa310a77c8afb6bbd2a2ad8d0c48fdb485d3b0Kenshi is a game of over­com­ing fail­ure. Mainly, fail­ure that you seek out; in the game I am present­ly play­ing, my char­ac­ter has been beat­en up and left for dead in over one hun­dred bat­tles. Her win:loss ratio would make the Raiders feel bet­ter about them­selves. Unlike the epony­mous foot­ball team, los­ing makes the char­ac­ter bet­ter. Each blow suf­fered makes you tougher. Each failed defense makes your character’s mêlée defense grow high­er. On the same hand, each use of an attack does the same for one’s mêlée attack. Strength requires either using a heav­ier weapon in com­bat (I switched to a frag­ment axe after grind­ing out Dexterity with a katana stolen off the corpse of a dead sand joun­in), or drag­ging hun­dreds of kilo of mate­ri­als across the sandy waste­lands to become stronger.

Live by the Sword.. 

My char­ac­ter start­ed out as an old sol­dier, hav­ing served for years for the United Cities as a cap­tain of the guard. Competent, but not invin­ci­ble. After days of time invest­ment and grind­ing, she is capa­ble of car­ry­ing 87 kg as a light load, able to move near­ly half a ton (1200 lbs!!!) on her own, has craft­ed a frag­ment axe that is capa­ble of killing three men with a sin­gle blow, is fast enough to block the attacks of near­ly a dozen attack­ers, and is able to out­run all but the most trained of oppo­nents. Not that she has need to do so, as she is capa­ble of tak­ing on entire squads of Dust Bandits by her­self. She has con­struct­ed the entire­ty of her base by hand, after min­ing for the mate­ri­als her­self (And with the help of about 10 oth­ers), and has man­u­fac­tured every­thing she has worn per­son­al­ly. The grind is reward­ing, since she came from a fair­ly hum­ble begin­ning.


.. Get knocked Unconscious Repeatedly by the Sword

All of this is earned through hours, upon hours of grind­ing. I must embold­en this. Kenshi is not a game for the light of heart; the grind­ing will try your patience, and the music, while atmos­pher­ic, is ambi­ent and tends to get grat­ing after a while. Blood will be spilt. Arms will be bro­ken. Tears will flow. Salt will accu­mu­late.

Expect a whole lot of this.

The craft­ing sys­tem, pow­ered by choice of end pro­duct and the speed of pro­duc­tion depends on the skill of the cre­ator. Quality has no bear­ing on the skill, thank­ful­ly, con­sid­er­ing the hours nec­es­sary to craft sim­ple weapons and armour. The frag­ment axe men­tioned above (which is a steel maquahuitl with sav­age, sharp teeth) took five days to craft. Chainmail and oth­er armours are in the same boat, with craft­ing time rough­ly in a week, even with the my high­ly trained chain­mail mak­er cum chain­mail armour man­u­fac­tur­er.

There are present­ly only four styles of attack (Five if you include har­poons) avail­able to train in as well as craft. Hackers, which are odd square sharp planks of met­al, Cleavers which are curved cut­ting swords, heavy weapons which include clubs and the frag­ment axe my char­ac­ter uses, and a vari­ety of east­ern katana, and wak­iza­shi vari­ants.

Thankfully, this is all mit­i­gat­ed, in part, by a speed up func­tion that speeds up the world to fur­ther reduce real craft­ing time, which is still some­what slow for the reviewer’s lik­ing. But this is just how Kenshi do.

A Tale of Savage Enemies, Creation and Survival

Enemies in this sta­ble ver­sion are, now, few and far between; being main­ly made up of Starving Bandits, Dust Bandits, Sand Ninja, and Cannibals. Roughly in order of dif­fi­cul­ty, one will end up fight­ing the­se ene­mies over and over, until your skills are good enough to defend your­self and your allies. Depending on start, the oth­er notable fac­tions (United Cities Samurai, Mercenaries, and Holy Nation) will be your ene­mies as well, pre­sent­ing a high­er dif­fi­cul­ty for your char­ac­ters as they are high­ly armed and dan­ger­ous.

The wound sys­tem is one of ad hoc sur­vival, with the game track­ing wounds to dif­fer­ent parts of the body.  Parts, notably being the head, stom­ach or chest area, are required in effort to stay con­scious . The oth­er limbs present a com­bat malus in the form of inabil­i­ty to use the limb or slowed down run­ning, which may make flee­ing dif­fi­cult. Kenshi is unfor­giv­ing in this respect.

I made dis – u like?

Base cre­ation is RTS style, requir­ing build­ing mate­ri­als, time, and some­one to build the build­ing. The over­all process is like weapon and item craft­ing as above, with a num­ber of build­ings avail­able for craft­ing or research.

The game’s research and sci­ence is, again, mere­ly an issue of time; Purchasing blue­prints is a mat­ter of head­ing to stores that sell sim­i­lar prod­ucts. Researching requires leav­ing a team mem­ber behind to chip away at a work­shop table to uncov­er for­got­ten con­struc­tion secrets.

Graphics and Technical Bits

Now, con­sid­er­ing the game is in alpha, it’s unsur­pris­ing that the mod­els start off kind of dumpy. However, this is made up by the abil­i­ty to manip­u­late and change the character’s fea­tures to some­thing more flat­ter­ing or to your approval, with the abil­i­ty to manip­u­late every­thing from height to weight to much more inti­mate details. This all comes with a warn­ing; at present, many of the com­bat ani­ma­tions do not work with some of the more extreme body shapes, with super small or super tall, or super wide char­ac­ters hav­ing dif­fi­cul­ty mesh­ing with the ani­ma­tions. This presents most­ly when using female mod­els, which were recent­ly added.

Graphics are anoth­er issue as well; the game’s atmos­phere is one of post apoc­a­lyp­ti­ca and due to this, the sur­round­ing envi­ron­ments are var­i­ous shades of brown. The occa­sion­al green­ery from still liv­ing shrubbery/trees pops up from those plants that sur­vived the unex­plained death of soci­ety.

I made dis – u like?

Many things have changed since I pur­chased Kenshi orig­i­nal­ly (some­where around ver­sion .56) with changes and updates com­ing rough­ly every mon­th or so. With new updates come new cloth­ing or cloth­ing replaced, or mod­els slight­ly changed. Game saves are inval­i­dat­ed between ver­sions; how­ev­er, there is an option to Import char­ac­ters from ear­lier saves, allow­ing incom­pat­i­ble but high stat old char­ac­ters to be brought into a new sys­tem.

There are also quite a num­ber of bugs, main­ly to do with path-finding or oth­er odd­i­ties. As this is an alpha, expect lots of this to pop up.


This isn’t too bad. Honest.

I men­tioned the music. Kenshi’s music is an ambiance track, that does not seem to match to any event or action with­in the game itself, and is entire­ly ran­dom. At present, how­ev­er, there is lit­tle to rec­om­mend, as it has a num­ber of east­ern inspired addi­tions, and lit­tle else for the moment. More music and more ambiance tracks are promised to match fur­ther expan­sions of the map and the sur­round­ing envi­ron­ments.

As stat­ed before, Kenshi is not for the light of heart, as many things are time invest­ments. Grinding is the norm for every­thing. I have spent many an hour mak­ing each mem­ber of my character’s group into one-woman armies, if only because that is the only way they will sur­vive.

Final Thoughts

Floating over parts of the envi­ron­ment isn’t nor­mal. But on meth it is.

After 85 hours of game­play, there is still some­thing to Kenshi that has drawn me back again and again to it’s blood soaked bad­lands. The game offers an exem­plary amount of per­son­al free­doms, idol­izes a pat­tern of con­tin­u­ous per­son­al growth. It’s a game of grow­ing num­bers and see­ing their impact in a world that is filled with dan­ger. It is also a game that is easy to get into, and to play with noth­ing more than the mouse, which makes it eas­ier to play for those with a busier sched­ule. It thrives off of swift and bru­tal com­bat with only the best sur­viv­ing to the end, and the weak being cut down dead; the medioc­re lay­ing uncon­scious. It is unfor­giv­ing, and at the same time, for those who are will­ing to put the time into grind­ing a char­ac­ter out, reward­ing.

The grind is the draw of Kenshi. It is a vicious and sim­ple game, that can be casu­al­ly put aside (It has a full save/loading sys­tem) and start­ed up again imme­di­ate­ly where one had left off. The grind is pun­ish­ing; ene­mies con­stant­ly chal­lenge you to grow and adapt, to sur­vive, and even­tu­al­ly con­quer those around you. Yet it is just lenient enough for your char­ac­ters to sur­vive; though often there were moments I thought I had almost killed her with the strug­gles I was forc­ing her through. But it was for the bet­ter, with each moment of work ensur­ing she’d sur­vive the next bat­tle a bit bet­ter off than she was in the last. Making her hard­er, bet­ter, faster, stronger. So that each group of ban­dits is not seen as mere­ly a chal­lenge, but a reward in itself whether whether she won or lost.

Overcoming weak­ness and trad­ing it for new strength is ful­fill­ing, and after tri­als and com­bat, this old sol­dier walks around the bad­lands, a walk­ing god­dess of death.

Purchasing Recommendations:

Buy Kenshi at full price if:

You enjoy long term sand­box games with a high degree of adver­si­ty, and games that focus on build­ing char­ac­ter skills and equip­ment.

Buy Kenshi at a dis­count if:

You aren’t will­ing to invest as much time, or are frus­trat­ed eas­i­ly.

Don’t buy Kenshi if:

You are not a grinder at heart, or you do not have time to spare.

https://supernerdland.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/5.jpghttps://supernerdland.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/5-150x150.jpgMichael CampbellPCPC ReviewsKenshi,PC ReviewsWe Been Spending Most Our Lives Living in A Grinder’s Paradise… Preface Note: Game was pur­chased by the review­er, not pro­vid­ed by the devel­op­er. Kenshi is avail­able on Steam, for $20 USD and is present­ly in an alpha state. Anything fea­tured in this arti­cle may change with new updates. This is…
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Michael Campbell
My name is Michael Campbell. I am a bud­ding writer, pro­duc­er, and the content-manager for off-site opin­ion pieces. I focus on Early Access Game Reviews, Traditional Games Media (Primarily Pen & Paper Role-playing Games), Steam Games, Origin, and Indie Titles. My inter­ests include draw­ing real­ly ter­ri­bly, run­ning far too many RPG games a week and hor­ri­fy­ing my co-workers and friends. I also get real­ly angry on Twitter at injus­tice. I am also like­ly going to become a fix­ture in the edi­to­ri­al sec­tion of this site, due to the above anger. You can reach me at M.Campbell@supernerdland.com if you have ques­tions or com­ments; As well, you can reach me @EvilBobDALMYT on Twitter to see some of that anger in motion.
Michael Campbell

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