Create your own squad and train them to be warriors, doctors, traders, peacekeepers, businessmen, explorers or even slaves. Kenshi is a free-roaming squad-based game with RPG elements in open-ended sandbox gameplay. You are not special, and there isn’t a linear story. You make your own story in Kenshi. Can you stay alive or will you die in this alternative fantasy desert world?
There isn’t any hand-holding; this is the first lesson you will learn when starting up Kenshi. The game will give you quick and simple hints about how things work. But for the most part, you have to figure everything else out your self. There isn’t a story to follow or characters and quests to run off and find or complete. You make your own story in Kenshi. Want to steal stuff, go right ahead. Want to run your own shop, you can do that too. Want to raid and destroy the bandit hideouts in the world, yup you can do that as well. Pretty much whatever you can dream up, Kenshi will allow you to pursue those dreams.
I for one didn’t realize you could create up to six starting characters. Found that out later, but I stuck with my single character. I found a bar outside of my starting town and discovered there was copper to mine. I did just that and mined that copper till I had enough money to recruit more characters into my ever-growing squad. Soon right outside this bar I found, I started a small Outpost and had a bunch of peeps mining copper, and stone, farming food, and water. I was comfortable enough to start exploring other towns. I did whatever I wanted to do, and it felt really good not having my hand held in a video game.
But as I played Kenshi I quickly discovered, the game doesn’t care who you are. You are not special or someone with special powers. Nope, you have to train to be a warrior and that training means losing a lot of fights. Luckily though Kenshi is forgiving in one area, losing fights. If you lose in a fight your characters will fall and most likely become unconscious. After a count down your unconscious characters will wake up. By this time the bandits or whoever attacked you would have moved on. It is rather hard to die in Kenshi unless you keep trying to fight after being wounded. Each of your characters has hit points for each of their limbs and torso. If these hit points reach into the negatives you will lose the ability to use that limb. You’ll have to either rest to heal up or use a splint. Though depending on the damage done, your characters could bleed out and die instead of going into an unconscious state. If this happens you’ll need another person in your group to bandage and stabilize that critically damaged character before they bleed out and die.
Fighting in Kenshi is all stats based. If you have the numbers, you’ll defeat your enemies. There are no buttons to push or combos to do during fights. Fights will just auto play out and whomever side has the better stats wins. And the only way to increase those stats is to train and get better equipment. To train, you must do that action. So if you want to increase toughness you have to fight and lose. Want to increase strength, carry heavy things around everywhere you go or do manual labor. Your stats grow as you do actions. It will take a long time to get powerful enough to take on the world alone. Fighting in Kenshi is a rather large part, as bandits will try to rob you or raid your outpost. Or slavers will try to take you into slavery. Whatever is in the world of Kenshi that wants to kill or make you a slave, your squad will have to defend its self.
Kenshi isn’t pretty to look at, the graphics seem dated and that’s because the game supposedly was in development for twelve years. Lo-Fi Games, the developers, and publishers of Kenshi didn’t upgrade the graphics as the years piled on in development. But they did focus on the many systems within the game to offer so much freedom. That freedom is what makes Kenshi worth playing.
I’ll come out and say it, Kenshi isn’t for everyone. It is not a game designed for casuals. Kenshi is more or less for hardcore gamers willing to dedicate their time in figuring out everything that the game has to offer. There are no levels to achieve or a story to discover. Yes, Kenshi is ugly, the sound isn’t all that great, and it has some performance issues. But the freedom Kenshi offers is amazing. If you are willing to put in the time and effort, Kenshi is worth picking up.