The single most impressive thing about Kyn is that it’s been built, for the most part, by only two men. Yes, a large tactical RPG has been largely developed by a pair of developers alone, and it didn’t turn out to be a heap of trash. We’re off to a solid start already!

Kyn is a large, sprawling, beautiful and only a tad bit bland in some regards. Its story is set in a universe heavily inspired by Norse mythology and draws from the general knowledge of Viking lore. Upon starting the game, players take control over two men who’ve managed to complete their trials and ingratiated themselves into an honourable warrior order. The first quest is to return to their home village and report to the elder there, yet they encounter malicious, dangerous creatures along the way. Hell, the very first Pact (the term used for quests in Kyn) has the pair reviving a young girl that was killed by the wolves in a forest. While certainly not gripping, the storyline is interesting and whimsical enough for it to remain relevant throughout the game. I greatly appreciated the dialogue and overall character interaction in Kyn, whereas the characters’ conversations rarely turned out to be boring and pointless. Some were even quite relevant and fascinating to behold, as all of your party members oftentimes offer their own view of the situation at hand. It’s not awfully deep nor considerably important for the game itself, but it creates a more believable world and that’s greatly appreciated by people such as myself.

That said, Kyn does seem somewhat bland at times. As pretty a game as it may be (and I’ll touch upon its visuals a bit further down the line), there’s a certain cleanliness and surgicality to it all. The characters players take control over are especially forgettable, and even though there are some fantastical level designs to be experienced here, there’s a good chance you’ll forget the most of what you’ve seen in Kyn several weeks after you’re done with it. Most of the creatures and monsters you’ll meet are also fairly standard fare, even though there’s a decent amount of variety to it all. Once all is said in done, Kyn would be fairly forgettable game would it not have a rather unique gameplay mechanic.

The gameplay can be best compared to that of Wasteland 2, but in real-time. You can approach Kyn much as you’d approach an RTS, really, since the character selection, movement and world interaction. The one thing I can’t get over, however, is the awfully locked camera which made me feel needlessly constrained and incapable of controlling what I see. Once I was able to cope with that, I started exploring the game’s somewhat open environ, finding new Pacts to seal as I went along. You’ll be happy to hear that there’s a lot of truly fascinating sidequests to be found here, as well as some very interesting uses of spells and similar paranormal phenomena. It’s fairly easy to have fun in this game is what I’m saying, especially if you enjoy puzzles because there’s a lot of those here too. From what I can tell, however, there’s not much replayability to be found here after you’ve finished the game once. It’s not difficult nor especially time-consuming to wrap up the large majority of the quests in a single playthrough, but at least it’s all interesting while it lasts.

I was pleasantly surprised to see how reactive and fast Kyn’s combat is. Each hit feels immediate, with the enemy getting staggered or otherwise damaged, and fights are usually resolved in a matter of seconds – a feature you’ll surely recognize as quite foreign in the genre. Few enemies require more than a couple of attacks to be brought down, but the situation is quite similar with your own characters also, with even the berserkers and tanks falling in mere moments if you don’t position them carefully on higher difficulty settings. The game’s speedy nature thus demanded a feature that would allow gamers to stop for a few moments and think things through. Hitting the space button slows the game down to a halt, then, so as to give you the opportunity to assess the situation without worrying about your half-a-dozen heroes dying due to a miscalculation.

As the game progresses, you’ll eventually fill out your party with up to six heroes, each of which the game will require you to build in a way that’ll support the rest of the group. The character upgrade options are quite well-rounded; allowing you to build all kinds of different individuals while not letting you go all-out and create brokenly overpowered dudes and dudettes. This game demands specialization and careful management, and that’s exactly what makes it engaging. As far as gameplay’s concerned, I’m only sorry that there’s absolutely no form of stealth implemented for the players to employ.

Graphics-wise, the game is pretty, as I said. For all of its strange cleanliness there’s a certain charm to it all, and it’s difficult for it not to endear you one way or another. I quite like the interface which is nice and direct, as well as intuitive enough for anyone to figure out in mere moments. UI aside, for all of the game’s eye-candy, I’m having a difficult time explaining its poor optimization to myself. Pretty as it may be, I’ve played better-looking games that use more advanced tech and yet run better at any given moment. The game’s soundtrack is wonderfully atmospheric and fits it perfectly. I dislike the general lack of voice-over, but the font leds itself nicely to reading, and there’s never too much text to check out in a short amount of time.

Bottom line is that Kyn is a surprisingly good hybrid of an RTS and an RPG, but one that has a few problems of its own. If you can deal with what I’ve noted above, you’re sure to have a great time with Kyn.