Games of the Year

Kenshi

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A free-roaming squad based RPG focusing on open-ended sandbox gameplay features rather than a linear story. Be a trader, a thief, a rebel, a warlord, an adventurer, a farmer, a slave, or just food for the cannibals. Research new equipment and craft new gear. Purchase and upgrade your own buildings to use as safe fortified havens when things go bad, or use them to start up a business. Aid or oppose the various factions in the world while striving for the strength and wealth necessary to simply survive in the harsh desert. Train your men up from puny victims to master warriors. Carry your wounded squad mates to safety and get them all home alive. Features Freeform gameplay in a seamless game world in the largest single-player RPG world since Daggerfall, stretching over 870 square kilometers. The game will never seek to limit you or restrict your personal play style. Custom design as many characters as you want and build up a whole squad to fight for you. Characters will grow and become stronger with experience, not just in their stats but their appearance too. Original take on the RTS-RPG hybrid genre. No "hero" characters with artificially stronger stats than everybody else- Every character and NPC you meet is potentially an equal, and has a name, a life. You are not the chosen one. You're not great and powerful. You don't have more 'hitpoints' than everyone else. You are not the center of the universe, and you are not special. Unless you work for it.
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Game Discussion

Review by Anonymous
Review from Steam

I started with 1 guy
I was then enslaved promptly
Being enslaved wasn't so bad, you get food and health benefits
Spent 1 week in game training strength, atheletics, and laboring by day
Lockpick, thievery, and stealth under masters noses by night
Tried to train assassination 1 night, which promptly turned into training dodge, melee attack/defense and martial arts
I ended up surrounded by many slavers and went down
Health benefits kicked in and they patched me up, put me back in the cage
Repeat process until I am literally an enslaved god
Release myself effortlessly from my cage and proceed to beat down entire force of slavers with bare hands, release any slaves I find along the way, who assist me in beating down previously mentioned slavers
I escaped and many slaves joined my band outright, all of whom had good stats from being enslaved themselves so long
Beat down Holy Nation 30 days later with band of angry ex-slave martial artists
10/10 would be a slave again

Review from Steam

My main character I started the game in was a Greenlander Human named Roulette. I had this character concept in my head of a character who was lithe, not a heavy hitter but fast moving and adept at stealth. As I continued to play I ran into a Skeleton (basically robots) NPC named Bland, who joined my party. Bland eventually became adept at hand-to-hand combat and could roundhouse kick several fools at the same time. It was amazing.
Much later on, I found the skin bandit camp. Skin bandits are a group of insane Skeletons (robots) who think they're human, so they capture humans and throw them into the peeler machines to make really gross, patchwork skin outfits for themselves. If you have a Skeleton character they will not be hostile to them but will call them a "skinless freak".
I remembered reading that I could use their peeler machines to replace my Skeleton's limbs with the masterwork robotic ones I stole from Shark during a town-wide gang war I instigated by standing in a spot I wasn't supposed to be in. Problem is, Bland the Skeleton's lockpicking skill was way too low so he would die in the peeler machine before he could break himself out, so Roulette would have to sneak into the camp to sit and wait until his arms and legs were permanently broken off.
Another problem while doing this was that I forgot that I had knocked the skin bandit's leader unconscious, dragged him back to the United Cities and bountied him for $80,000, so when Bland got into the peeler machine the skin bandits were running up to the second floor and were trying to beat the crap out of him with their clubs. So, I had continuously knock them unconscious, rip their CPU units out of their heads to kill them, repair the damage they did to Bland while he's being peeled (but not too much), then knock the next arriving bandit unconscious. This resulted in a sizable pile of skin bandit bodies piling up.
Once Bland's arms and legs were ripped off I broke him out and started to attach his newer, stronger limbs - only to realize, far too late, that I actually just had TWO RIGHT LEGS. This meant I had to carry Bland out of town while fighting hunger while another character, who was chilling in the town of Mourn, had to Naruto run to another town to find a sufficient left leg for Bland. Only the isolated stronghold of Mongrel would do, and it was surrounded by creepy Hivers known as "Fogmen" who engaged in ritualistic cannibalism upon their captives.
After nearly dying to hunger and almost being eaten by carnivorous giraffes known as Beak Things, Roulette and Bland made it back while their friend managed to return with a left leg for the latter. This entire process took about two hours of real life time.
Kenshi is a genuine "sandbox experience". There are no objectives, no directives. Outside of a few pre-generated backgrounds that can make your start easier or much difficult, you are spawned in and are left to your own devices. The game only ends if you get bored or if every single one of your characters dies.
It's great.

Review from Steam

Me: I’m not really into linear stories and generic questing... Can I do whatever I want?
Kenshi: Yeah sure go for it.
Me: I mean like can I REALLY do whatever I want? Can I build a city anywhere on the map?
Kenshi: Yeah sure go for it.
Me: Really? Cool. Can I make money by stealing from shopkeepers throughout the different cities in the game then fence it for a profit?
Kenshi: Yeah sure go for it.
Me: Sweet. But instead of stealing for a living, can I grow kilos and kilos of hashish and sell it around the land and smuggle it into cities where it is illegal?
Kenshi: Yeah sure go for it.
Me: Alright. How about selling goods? Can I produce goods like weapons and armor, or food and use pack animals to caravan around the continent selling my goods?
Kenshi: Yeah sure go for it.
Me: Cool. Can I raise an army and go to war with any NPC faction on the map?
Kenshi: Yeah sure go for it.
Me: Damn, can I explore ancient ruins for loot left behind by the old world?
Kenshi: Yeah sure go for it.
Me: Forget about all of that. Can I just live as a bum who lives in a small shack in the swamps and kills animals and drifters with a mounted crossbow for the fun of it?
Kenshi: Yeah sure go for it.
Me: Okay wiseguy. Can I go to war with the cannibals and destroy all of their towns and settlements leaving them slaughtered and homeless?
Kenshi: Yeah sure go for it.
Me: Can I bounty hunt for infamous criminals and turn them in for a reward?
Kenshi: Yeah sure go for it.
Me: Can I raid a town or city and take prisoners for myself?
Kenshi: Yeah sure go for it.
Me: Can I build a fortress with steel walls and mounted turrets to withstand endless bandit, ninja, berserker, cannibal, and organized army assaults?
Kenshi: Yeah sure go for it.
Me: Is the game free of annoying bugs and occasional crashing?
Kenshi: Yeah sure go-erm… well actually were still working on ironing those things out…

Review from Steam

Spawn in, leave town to explore/scavenge. Came across a small group of some chill lookin fellas. One of them pipes up "Eh, looks like a slave. Get him." So i hightailed it to the nearest major town in hopes they'd get bored and leave me alone. Nope they followed me like 5 miles to the nearest town. I desperately tried running into a bar to hire some protection. I didn't click fast enough. Next thing I know I'm getting absolutely demolished by some jujitsu masters. After getting my skull cracked and most of my limbs shattered. They bandaged me just enough to keep me alive. They hauled my crippled ass to their work camp. Got locked in a cage for like 3 days. During that time I spent it training up my lock picking skill. Tried freeing some fellow enslaved lads, They were so filled with fear they stayed in their cages. I on the other hand waited for nightfall. When the guard changed and the security around the camp relaxed a bit. I snuck out of their. Made it nearly to the exit before getting spotted by an absolute ripped narc. I was chased down around the camp by like half the slave traders there. Again, got crippled, mocked and thrown in solitary away from anyone else. They forgot about me and I died to my injuries as well as starvation. I enjoyed every second.

Review from Steam

I met my best friend in slavery, and he sacrificed himself so I could get away. It's been months, Hotlongs. I will set you free one day. I miss you

Review from Steam

It took me 25 of the 33 hours I've played to break out of the mines. My shek comrade and I ended up in them due to a racially charged misunderstanding while running from a small band of hungry bandits. The slave drivers kept talking about Rebirth and shouting at unconscious bodies to work harder. They kept us weak with starvation, and would take us out in random groups of three to work the mines. We got good at picking locks, and loaded ourselves down with the ore we mined in order to build strength. At night, we did stealth laps on the rooftop of the slave quarters, slowly building up our skills to slip past the guards and conduct scouting missions of the rest of the compound. There were always three guards posted at the gate, and if they, the other eight guards, or the overseer spotted us, they would collectively beat us into submission, throw us back into our cages, bandage our wounds, and kiss us goodnight.
The slaver didn't even see it coming, though that's the point of a good stealth knockout. We locked him in a cage, then waited to see what would happen. The guards found him the next day, recited the one about taking all his possessions, and just like that, he was a slave. At night, we practiced assassinating the slaver. He screamed for help, but nobody came. The overseer was showy and didn't wear a helmet. We knocked out and enslaved the guards one by one, dressing them all in slave orange and shackles and displacing the actual slaves from their cages. Eventually, with nowhere left to safely store a slave, the few remaining guards ran around with dead bodies slung over their shoulders, sprinting back and forth from the mines to the compound in a futile bid to keep tabs on things. They didn't go down without a fight, but they went down.
We should have just left, but there was still a question of justice, and some additional teachable moments to be had. We killed the slaver in the alley, then dragged a paladin to the rooftop of the main building. We dressed in their finest and gave them a trial by combat, beating them into submission, waiting for them to regain consciousness, and beating them into submission all over again. Nothing dies easy in this world, and getting knocked down is just what happens before something gets back up. The overseer got a few good shots in, but finally expired in the entryway of the slave quarters. One guard figured out how to pick locks, stole a sword, and ran off into the desert. We were about halfway through our court cases when a random gang of hungry bandits stormed up the stairs. We hid in cages until they left, then took that as our cue to do likewise.
If there's one thing I learned, it's that there's safety in numbers. We would need to expand our crew to have any chance at surviving. One slave followed us out the front gates and, at an adequate distance from the mines, shouted something in amazement and sprinted off in the opposite direction, disappearing into the desert night.
That was our rebirth. We're a little bit stronger and a lot more sneaky, and we definitely have a few new enemies. To celebrate, we bought a bonedog puppy from a nomadic animal trader and named it Spuner. It was promptly mauled half to death by a wild bonedog.

Review from Steam

Review after 550 hours
Kenshi is a unique experience. There is absolutely nothing to be compare to it.
Although I can say that it is not for all. There are no Quest Tracker or straight forward objective. You will have to keep your own side notes about what you are planning to do.
Do you want to be a bounty hunter? Grab Wanted notes about some important figures and go hunt them down. Find where they are walking around, sneaky at night and knocked them out. Sometimes they are wanted alive or dead, so that makes it easier! :D
Do you want to play colony building? Grab some more fellas and put them to break metal. Research new technologies and convert your metal to sword, boltguns and so much more. But just be careful where you choose to setup your base, because people will take notice of it and will visit you. Sometimes the visits are not so welcoming.
And if by any change you grow tired of something, just mod it. There are a tons of Mods around which makes this game even better!
There is no clear goal and there is no ending... it is just a sandbox for you to have fun on it and it is amazing. I wish that more games would follow this same recipe.

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