Developed by Tangrin Entertainment. Published by Versus Evil. Released July 28th. Available on PC. Review copy provided by publisher.
Kyn is set in a Viking mythology-inspired world protected by the Magi. These warriors train themselves within magical caves, where the survivors emerge with great powers beyond mere mortals. When two such warriors return from the caves after a prolonged initiation, they find their village under attack by the Aeshir - a once peaceful race that has suddenly become hostile and emboldened with dark powers. As the threat grows to threaten the entire continent, these magi find themselves traveling from village to village to protect innocents and understand the nature of the Aeshir's growing evil.
Does that sound like your typical, epic RPG adventure? You'd be correct, although that's also the problem - it's a little too typical. Overall, Kyn feels like a paint-by-numbers RPG, like someone made it while reading a list called "What makes for an epic RPG?". The end result is functional on the gameplay front, and can even be fun once you get the hang of it. But it doesn't feel unique enough to be truly memorable, even after you've sunk several hours into it.
Kyn's system itself - highly reminiscent of old-school isometric games- is actually one of the game's strongest features. The game plays as a combination of classic RPG and RTS titles, as you manage a party of up to six where magi characters can be customized to your liking. Kyn's system is classless, letting you assign points directly into Mind, Body, and Control traits to unlock advanced skills and special abilities. Depending on your play style, you could make an entire party of melee warriors, focused archers, powerful mages, or any combination you prefer.
What's more, you can reassign points at any time outside of combat. That means you're never permanently locked into a particular play style, and if your party gets unbalanced you can always tweak them to better meet a particular challenge. It also means you have a lot more freedom to experiment with character and party builds. If your reliance on archers doesn't seem to be working, you can always switch gears mid-mission and try different power sets. It may not feel consistent from a roleplaying perspective, but it keeps the action moving anytime you get stuck.
The tactical elements come into play during combat, as you face enemy forces that either surpass your party in numbers, or are more powerful than individual characters. Thankfully, a single button press slows the action to a fraction of a second, giving you enough room to make quick decisions, find a spot to lay traps, or cast a healing spell before a character falls. It's incredibly satisfying to overcome a seemingly unstoppable enemy wave, and given the range of abilities each character has there's no shortage of options to turn too.
Not that Kyn's gameplay is without fault. There is absolutely no tutorial, let alone a polite suggestion to refer to the Help guide. If you're already familiar with old-school games you'll have a slight advantage, but odds are still high you'll run into a steep learning curve right off the bat. Autosaves are few and far between, so if you forget to save often you easily lose up to an hour of progress. And that's not even getting into the finicky nature of old-school games - like navigating the party up a simple staircase, or realizing a group member fell behind they got stuck on a cow NPC. None of these necessarily stop your enjoyment, but they are unpleasant reminders of gameplay quirks we thought were left behind long ago.