The Kindred Preview | MOUSE n JOYPAD


Minecraft is seen as a sort of mixed blessing in the design community. On one hand, it displayed that you don’t need next-gen graphics or complicated mechanics to draw in a large crowd of fans. On the other, it started a trend of voxel-based copycats trying to quickly and cheaply cash in on the fame Minecraft had. Now, should any poor developer be tempted to use minimalist voxel-based designs in their project, their games are doomed to be compared endlessly to the behemoth that is Minecraft. Of course, this applies to “The Kindred” as well.


While expansive, the world of The Kindred is still limited.

Developed by Persistent Studios and published by Nkidu Games, The Kindred is a survival game centered around ensuring the continued existence of your NPC characters, known as “Kin.” Adopting a top-down perspective, your goal is to guide your Kin through the standard processes of gathering and crafting, to ensure the survival of your tiny cube-headed friends.

In this manner, The Kindred is similar to other resource management and RTS games such as Valhalla Hills. Except, in this case, the goal isn’t to reach some form of promised land or destroy all the invading monsters, but simply to endure for as long as possible, off the resources given to you from the landscape. By mining, farming, crafting, and managing your manpower effectively, it’s possible to create a sizeable settlement; with some hard work and elbow grease.

Now, the first thing that many people will think of when they see The Kindred is “Gee, this seems an awful lot like a top-down version of Minecraft,” and in a lot of ways, they’d be right. However, I’d strongly urge against continuing this train of thought, as The Kindred has plenty of features and enough clout to grant it distinction from other games. It shares many of the hallmarks other voxel crafting/survival games have, but maintains its own style and system as well.


The generated worlds have plenty of uniquely wonderful pieces of topography littering the environment.

The Kindred has players starting out in procedurally generated world with 6 Kin and a crate full of tools and supplies to get them started. From there, using the game’s task system and some basic logic, the player is tasked with gathering resources and ensuring the continued survival of your Kin.

A task which is admittedly easier said than done because controlling your Kin is just about the most infuriating task in the game. In my review of Valhalla Hills, one of my complaints about the game AI was that it was unresponsive. Failing to notice simple commands or missing resources clearly highlighted by the player, The Kindred has started to give me flashbacks to Valhalla Hills. Players do have a limited amount of direct control by right clicking on the ground to guide your Kin, but that’s about it. Guiding your Kin’s movement might unhinge them from a bad pathing route, but is largely ineffective for anything otherwise. Most Kin will march towards the designated resource (usually) upon the command being launched, and get to work. The only other purpose this feature really serves is to prevent Kin from blocking building or farming spaces. Overall, it’s a nice feature to have, and definitely appreciated, but I can’t help but feel that more could’ve been done with this feature. Solid implementation overall, albeit with poor execution.

This seems to be a recurring theme across the board with The Kindred as well. For example, each Kin has a unique stat block associated with them that the player can access easily. Showing the skills each Kin has, who they’re romantically involved with, their age, and so on. For most players, this would be used to organize different Kin to different tasks, depending on their strengths and weaknesses. Unfortunately, however, this is simply impossible to do; as players cannot choose which Kin is to accomplish which tasks. While I have no strong evidence towards it, the game did seem to favor assigning Kin with better abilities to their respective tasks, it seems to be mostly random selection based on which Kin are the least hungry or tired. If one Kin is definitively better at mining than the other Kin, then let me put him on mining duty so the others can accomplish their tasks faster, instead of forcing me to watch the twelve-year-old children mine iron from the hills.


After clearing some sand without disturbing the water, the Kin cruelly abandon a small child.

Of course, that’s when Kin feel like cooperating in the first place. During my playthrough of The Kindred, I had to restart the game several times due to my Kin refusing to work for inexplicable reasons. Due to a lack of comprehensive warning system for anything beyond emergencies, my Kin would stop working for no apparent reason. Making it impossible to do things, such as herding wild sheep and cows, because my enclosures were missing pieces. While it’s understandable for an Alpha build of a game to have a few glitches, this made it nigh-unplayable, as the constant task-freezing crawled gameplay to a crawl while I had to clear construction queues and re-issue commands constantly.

Adding to the wonky task system is the user interface, which while inoffensive, is cluttered and an inconvenience. All player commands are issued by clicking through a series of menus placed along the bottom of the screen, with menus for crafting and placement being subdivided into different categories. If you need to construct something quickly, then prepare to sift through menu after menu while backing up to enter new menus to gather all the necessary pieces. It’s not the worst menu system in a game, but being able to cancel all the way back to the main set of menus would be appreciated.

When you do finish sifting through menus, though, players will ultimately feel very pleased with their creations. Due in no small part, of course, to the games crisp graphics. Everything is vibrant, filled with colour, and wonderfully designed. The characters, and environments look more toylike than other Voxel based creations due to the cubic designs and textures being far less pixelated than in other such Along with the game’s filter; everything has a toylike quality to to it.

Between the graphics and the mechanics, perhaps comparing everything to toys isn’t too far fetched. Especially considering that the game is about as difficult as moving around your action figures. There’re a few different difficulty settings available currently, but I didn’t really notice an incredible amount of difference between them in my playthroughs. Sure, some resources were more scarce, and my Kin suddenly became ravenous gluttons bent on eating themselves out of house and home but growing crops, and taming animals are both fast and easy tasks. Everything in-game is accomplished in a small number of clicks, with no major threats to keep players on their toes; unless of course, you’re counting the occasional glitch.

Overall, I’m glad I got to give The Kindred a try. At first, I was convinced it was going to be another attempt at grabbing some of that lucrative Minecraft money, but after awhile the game slowly began winning me over to its side. With many of the features yet to be added and plenty of layers of polish to come, The Kindred is definitely going to be placed higher up than some titles on my Indie Watch List. The 15$ price tag is a bit high for what you’re getting currently, but if it goes on sale for under ten bucks, or it adds more in the way of content soon, I’d heartily say “go for it.”