I feel I should preface this preview article with a note explaining that The Kindred is still under heavy development, and as such, it’s currently very rough around the edges.
I found The Kindred to be a difficult game to preview. Not because it isn’t enjoyable or broken, mind you. Rather, it’s that it’s the latest in a very, very long line of post-Dwarf Fortress survival management games. It’s a genre that’s not only saturated at the moment, but also rich with titles that have been abandoned during development. With very promising games like Towns and even Tim Schafer’s Spacebase DF-9 having halted development, I’m both sceptical and hopeful for the frameworks that are present in The Kindred.
That being said, if The Kindred does deliver, oh my will this be a fun little game. For starters your villagers, the Kin, can be directed individually. It’s a long-standing frustration I have with DF-likes: the hands-off approach to management. It’s refreshing to be able to more effectively micromanage my workers. But that’s not that groundbreaking, as welcome as it is. What is groundbreaking, however, is being able to walk around and explore in first-person view. It’s got a very Sim Theme Park kind of vibe, wandering around and appreciating your constructions from the ground. In addition, it’s planned to have construction and manipulation available to the player while in this mode, so again, more opportunities to directly influence change. Huzzah! The functioning (mostly) multiplayer is a very nice touch, too.
These are all the sorts of things one would expect from a DF-like, but they’re strangely absent from other games. It suggests that developer Persistent Studios is looking to advance the genre, rather than simply cashing in on its popularity. That’s the sort of respect for the player that I really appreciate from a developer, and I truly hope they can deliver.
That being said, this is clearly still an Alpha title, and with that comes all the bugs, glitches, hitches, and crashes you would expect. I’m okay with this, as this is exactly the kind of title that Steam’s Early Access program is there to support, but it’s important to note—especially in light of recent Early Access blunders—that this is not a finished title. What it is, though, is an adorable and peaceful little city builder, heavily stylized with vibrantly colourful voxel graphics, in which you work to build and develop a community and even generate electricity to power lights and such. It’s got a sort of 3D Dwarf Fortress meets Minecraft tech-mods kind of vibe to it, and I like where it’s going.
The fact that each of your Kin has unique stats and specialties, and that each type of crop has a different nutritional value means there are plenty of systems in place for a very rich and deep experience down the road. While the whole thing may be a bit Spartan at the moment, The Kindred is definitely a title that I’ll be keeping a close eye on. If you’re a fan of the Dwarf Fortress-like genre, this is a cute little title you’ll want to look out for as well.