Developer: Persistent Studios
Publisher: Nkidu Games Inc.
Genre: Single-player, Sim, Indie
Platform: PC, Mac and Linux (Steam)
Release Date: February 24, 2016
People have been on a simulation kick lately. Terraria, Gnomoria, Stonehearth, the Sims, etc. There’s also the mining/crafting genre like Minecraft. It’s no surprise then that someone would try to create a combination of the two. Persistent Studios brings such a game in at such a low price, that it seems nearly impossible for a game to live up to all the standards currently thrown out there by other games. Enter The Kindred.
Despite the title, The Kindred has nothing to do with vampires or the World of Darkness. It’s more about forging a new home and settlement for a family of little people (called Kin) in a voxel, procedural created world. You only start out a few and are expected to help them survive with the very few tools and resources available. It’s kind of a harsh start, but after a few attempts, players will eventually figure out how to navigate through the process and help the Kin civilization blossom.
The controls are all laid out at the bottom of the screen, and even though there’s not much of a tutorial to lead you through how to use the controls, it’s not hard to figure how to use them after some experimentation. This is still a game in early development, so I suspect there will be more tips and help as the game sees more improvement. Basically, you mine/harvest the resources you need, assemble them at various crafting stations you have your Kin build, and then you repeat the process. This leads to players building all kinds of things – houses, beds, chairs, tables, fences, you name it.
More importantly, there’s also sort of a technological advancement built-in. As your Kin expand and build things, eventually players are building electrical items, powered by electrical generators (in the form of wind turbines). They never truly move away from fire, but it is nice to have other methods of lighting and such during the dark evening hours. So players will spend a lot of time directing the Kin to pull resources to build whatever the players have in mind.
Where it departs from a game as simple as Minecraft meets the Sims is that the players must cultivate and help their Kin … grow in numbers. Several factors are taken into account. Comfort, food and shelter being the three largest concerns of Kin. When not being directed, the Kin will mill about, engaging in whatever catches their fancy. Players will need to make sure their Kin are always doing something constructive, because eventually, they age out. After providing shelter and food, players will need their Kin to make more Kin, thus increasing the population and keep enough workers going to survive. The developer calls it the Circle of Life, although I lovingly call it the March to Death (since I lost so many to old age).
There’s also the seasons and day cycle to contend with. At night, Kin will want to sleep. During the day, it’s easier to see and the Kin will be more inclined to work longer. Spring, Summer and Fall are warm, with food production being easiest. Winter brings the cold and snow, meaning the Kin will need to hunt to counter the loss of normal farming. Players will also try to help the Kin raise and hunt animals for all sorts of reasons. It is one of the more robust town simulators out there since Banished, although the Kindred allows players to build structures however they want, as well as the electrical aspect.
The graphics and sound are nice. It’s well done in terms of appearances, even if the gameplay is a little hectic and difficult to grasp at first. Once a player understand the controls and gets the camera under control, the entire thing becomes a fun Lego like experience. I had fun with it, even though at times it was a little frustrating.
There isn’t much to say about The Kindred as of right now, other than it’s a neat toy. The game has gone through two updates since I downloaded it, so it is being constantly polished as time goes on. It’s impressive for the price – $15 doesn’t buy much of a simulation game nowadays, especially one with a lot of depth or graphics. The Kindred has some of both, so it’s a nice little toy to play with while you wait for whatever other games you want to play later. I can see tinkering with it every time it updates, and between other game sessions.
If you are into trial games that cost little money and have big dreams, The Kindred is right up your alley. I hope the developers continue to improve it and give us even more things to look forward to.
Nathan is a 40-ish year-old gamer, father and programmer. His hobbies are board games, video games and watching his son. He wrote for http://www.ironmanmode.com/ for the years of 2012 and 2013 to make money for Child's Play. He has been basically playing games since the 1980's in one form or another. His very first favorite video game was actually an arcade game called Dig Dug. He has played every generation of video game console (including the Magnavox Odyssey)