Kyn Puts the Baldr Back in Tactical Role Playing

Kyn is a hard game. Not a hard game to talk about, or even a hard game to describe (it’s a real-time tactical RPG), it’s just really hard. If you’re not on the ball you can be wiped out in seconds, and though it gives you the ability to slow time and consider your actions, as often as not that just means prolonging your demise. If you enjoy the more nail-biting encounters of classic RPGs like Baldur’s Gate, then it could well be your favorite game of the next year. If not, it has plenty of other ways to charm you.

At the outset, Kyn is about a pair of Viking warriors who, following a ritual that involves being buried alive, have gained magical powers to aid them in battle. With their newfound abilities they can heal wounds, strike fear into the hearts of their enemies, and even raise the dead. As they travel across their norse-inspired homeland, they’ll meet four other Viking warriors with similar magical powers, and together take the fight to a host of monsters that infest their world.

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That is, of course, if they can survive, which as it turns out is pretty difficult. Combat seems straightforward enough at first – just click on a Viking, then click on something else, and whoever dies first loses – but as enemies increase in number and strength you’ll need to carefully coordinate your warriors to overcome them. Archers will wear you down from a distance while melee attackers swarm you, and they can hit hard, taking out your characters’ health bars inside seconds. Clever use of your magical powers is key: keeping a constant healing aura up to mitigate damage and using fear magic to scare monsters off long enough to take out their friends.

Coordinating six rowdy Vikings in real time can be tricky, so Kyn allows you to briefly slow down the clock (but not stop it like you can in Dragon Age) to issue commands. Time slowing, like health, is a limited resource, so you’ll need to think on your feet even when you activate it. Battles aren’t just about positioning and targeting either – your characters can use elements from the environment like fire to strengthen their attacks, or even create new elemental sources using their spells and skills. The game makes you work for each victory, and asks you to use everything at your disposal in order to win.