If there’s any one flaw in the Diablo-like action-RPG genre, it’s in the combat. Don’t get me wrong, the combat in Diablo II was awesome, but the mechanics of Diablo II are too often copied and re-used. With the exception of flashy spells, the genre still often has you just clicking on enemies until they’re all dead.
Kyn goes a great distance to change this model. You control a small team of heroes, and the focus is on party-based combat. It’s reminiscent of Baldur’s Gate, where victory requires pausing and strategizing, only in Kyn, instead of just pausing you’re able to slow down time.
The game isn’t particularly complicated. The dialogue is mediocre, the graphics are somewhat cartoony, and there story is just decent.
Yet, despite its flaws, Kyn is surprisingly entertaining. It manages something that unfortunately can’t be said often: the combat is really fun.
If you’re not thinking ahead in Kyn, just about every battle could be your last.
Enemies in Kyn aren’t just damage sponges. Your hits affect them. They’ll suffer injuries. Kill enough of their allies and they’ll turn and run. Cut down a skeleton warrior and its top half might come crawling after you.
The dynamic of enemies suffering injuries can change the course of combat when facing groups that would otherwise be unbeatable. My strategy was to charge into combat, put all my focus on one of their strongest units until wounding it, then taking off running. When the group went chasing after me, the wounded foe would go limping behind trying to catch up—removing a key fighter from their ranks, and making their key fighter an easy target for an archer.
For me, the ability to wound and frighten enemies was an interesting factor. It made running away a strategic option that I usually avoid. I found myself aiming to main rather than kill, and only stood my ground to finish them off when my victory was assured.
Magic is also an important part of combat in Kyn. You can selectively cast fear on your enemies to divide their numbers. I worked out a similar strategy with this skill. I’d make all enemies flee, except the powerful one I wanted to eliminate. When its buddies took off, my team bumrushed it and took it down.
Healing is also deeply integrated into combat. As usual, you can heal individual allies or heal allies in a set radius, but more importantly you can revive and heal friendly NPCs—and this brings a whole other element of strategy.
On one occasion, I was trying to take on a pack of wolves with just two characters (which is harder than it sounds in Kyn). I charged in, only to have the wolves pin them to the ground and eat them, while I watched helplessly. For the second attempt, I revived two friendly guards who had died nearby, left my swordsman with them, then used my archer to lure the wolves to my newly-formed ambush party. We cut them down, like dogs (*viking laugh*).
The game has a story, but as I mentioned before, it’s nothing fantastic. You start with a party of two, an archer and a warrior (or whatever you want them to be, given you can re-distribute their skills), both of whom just completed some viking quest that gave them magical powers. A larger quest gradually unfolds, as a new enemy begins rising, which is just interesting enough to keep things moving.
The dialogue is also somewhat lame, and while the graphics are good, the cartoony look doesn’t quite match the feel of the combat.
Despite all this, Kyn still manages to feel like a living world. Your characters talk to each other. Villages and their inhabitants feel alive, and you still get that nice fuzzy feeling when you help a peasant out.
Don’t expect the epic sidequests, deep characters, or entertaining dialogue from Kyn. But you can expect unforgiving combat that requires plenty of thinking, in a game that gives room for you to build your own strategies—and that’s what makes Kyn glow.