back to article Kenshi: Sandblasted sword-punk D&D where the dungeon master wants everyone dead

Greetings, traveller, and welcome to The Register Plays Games, henceforth known as The RPG, a column that will run on the last Friday of each month. All genres, AAA studios, indie devs, just out or decades old – nothing is off-limits, but it'll likely have to be something fun and hopefully even new to you. Blood stains the …

  1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    Welcome to the new column

    I applaud and appreciate this new adventure on El Reg. Don't forget to bite, though.

    I found your take on Kenshi interesting, and it sparked my interest. I went and checked my Steam account and found that I had classed it under Ignored at the time. Reading the game's summary in Steam, I see why : I'm already playing 7 Days to Die and nothing in the game's description told me that it was that much different from what I'm doing already.

    But now I look at the game in a new light and I'm wondering. The fact that the game is not an MMO (you could have specified that, but it's okay) is a big plus in my book - I am sick of sharing my game time with griefers and other nuisances. I will pay more attention to this title now.

    1. BigSLitleP

      Re: Welcome to the new column

      Agreed. This game barely registered on my game seismograph. After reading this column though, i might just add it to my wishlist. Keep up the good work, vultures!

      1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

        Re: Welcome to the new column

        It's similar, but different to games like 7DtD. One has you trying to build up a base to survive it's regular hordes, or surviving as a nomad. Kenshi has you trying to survive as a nomad, or defending a base against zealots who object to you having loose women. Especially if they don't have a book. Or you just get eaten by bone dogs, cannibals, captured and enslaved, jailed and generally finding out there's more than 7 ways to die.

        Main thing is it's very much a sandbox, and venturing outside a town can swiftly lead to it's emergent gameplay.. and death, enslavement etc. Eventually you can build your own towns, trade, fend off zealots, have a warband strong enough to find out what mysteries await you in the ruins and craters & amuse yourself.

    2. MyffyW Silver badge

      Re: Welcome to the new column

      Your new column is a welcome addition to the toy draw and may well help in my quest to find ever more tangential ways to waste my time.

      1. MGJ

        Re: Welcome to the new column

        The word is drawer.

  2. WoobieVonFruitbat


    Great idea for a column, bring it on!

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Skinner's Roam

    Gibson fan, eh?

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    15 years later...

    and secondlife is still alive. Ever wonder why? A game that is a complex as you want it to be, and no one cares if you play or not, the game goes on without you there.

    1. Loyal Commenter

      Re: 15 years later...

      You're right - no-one cares about your flying willies.

      For comparison, is still going too...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: 15 years later...

        You sir have cut me to the quick with your witty repartee, I sit humbled by your apt insights and comparisons.

  5. K

    Nice.... Gives some new games to try..

    Will definitely download this over the weekend.. any guys insane and devoted enough to develop this deserves support :) kind of reminds me of the 80's game development, just the modern twist seems a little more ummm convoluted shall we say.

  6. DropBear

    "Sandbox" and "survival" are swear-words in my book (and I do have a bunch of others that do not apply here), regardless of how overwhelmingly popular they apparently are these days; if I wanted to be an insignificant cog in a giant meat grinder, that's what real life is for, and I play games to get away from that. An opportunity to become a bigger cog does nothing for me. But to each their own - if you like this, more power to you...

    1. MOH

      Are not article comments a form of text-based sandbox survival? Are we not all insignificant cogs in a giant meat grinder?

      1. Trilkhai

        Are we not all insignificant cogs in a giant meat grinder?

        Sure, but as DropBear put it, "if I wanted to be an insignificant cog in a giant meat grinder, that's what real life is for, and I play games to get away from that."

        1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

          Meat grinder you say?

          Ah, Kenshi may not be for you.. Or more specifically, some of your prisoners. It has some.. interesting ways to deal with those times where you're just not willng to go along with those zealots on their holy day. I guess it's like that infamous prison experiment, only more grimdark.

  7. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

    " the dungeon master trying their darnedest to kill you"

    (Nods approvingly).

    The proper function of a GM *is* to try to kill the players. Good ones manage to do that *and* have the players enjoy themselves.

    Good GMs are truely rare.

    1. Voidstorm

      Re: " the dungeon master trying their darnedest to kill you"

      on the contrary, our job is to *not quite* kill you. ;)

    2. FozzyBear

      Re: " the dungeon master trying their darnedest to kill you"

      Nope A DM's job is to provide the voice over dialogue as the players star in their characters movie ( that said ours typically is a smash up of games of throne meets the three stooges) . A good DM also provides plot twists, tension and what the character wants or needs. A great DM provides all this but not in the way the players expects.

      1. CentralCoasty

        Re: " the dungeon master trying their darnedest to kill you"

        Nah.... its the opposite... its normally a case of trying your hardest NOT to let the players kill themselves (each other)..... and frequently involves coming up with some bizarre twist, scenario or sub-plot just to give them a chance of staying alive.

  8. Giovani Tapini

    Pay 30,000 cats...

    I wouldn't want to carry them in "cash" sounds, heavy, noisy, and I certainly wouldn't want to clean the litter tray. Mission one. Invent better currency :-)

    1. A Nother Handle

      Re: Pay 30,000 cats...

      As I was going to St Ives

      I met a man with seven wives

      Each wife carried seven sacks

      And in each sack were seven cats

      Each cat had seven kittens

      How many Kenshi bounties had he claimed?

      1. TimMaher Silver badge

        Re: Pay 30,000 cats...

        Cambridgeshire(Hunts.) or Cornwall?

    2. macjules

      Re: Pay 30,000 cats...

      Maybe it is already a spin-off game? “Kenshi: Cat Herder”

  9. Martin an gof Silver badge

    Any chance of Open Source too?

    If older games are going to feature, can I also ask for the occasional open source game? I'm not a game player myself, but my children are quite fond of 0ad, Super Tux Kart (now at version 1.0, though there's been a change of development team which still has to settle down) and OpenTTD which is both open source and has a long heritage :-)


    1. SkippyBing

      Re: Any chance of Open Source too?

      Love OpenTTD, I'll go ages without touching it and then spend a couple of weeks doing nothing else with my spare time!

      1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

        Re: Any chance of Open Source too?

        I like OpenTTD.. also in a similar vein to Kenshi, there's Cataclysm: Dark Days Ahead.

  10. Will 28

    You didn't mention the bugs

    Firstly - like the new column, as an avid gamer I'll definitely be following it.

    Your review of Kenshi is nice, and highlights some of the excellent features of the game. Overall I agree that it's something special that any gamer should try. However it's rather a glaring hole not to mention that the game is massively bug ridden, and will always be that way. The developer has stated that they are only focussing on bug fixes now, rather than any new content, but during my time playing through (about 2 months ago) I encountered bugs that ranged from frustrating to game breaking. The bug fixes being released aren't addressing these things, they are more around balancing. Examples of bugs include random invisible walls appearing in your buildings causing your team to be trapped, team members getting "snagged" on corners and just standing there starving to death unless you help them (or getting eaten by something if it's their not in a safe place), and raiding parties that forever occupy your base, forcing a reload from before they spawned (often losing hours of play).

    It's a great game, and would be even better if they finished it, but they won't. It's worth playing, but I hope to help people realise in advance that you're going to get frustrated by all the issues.

    1. Excellentsword (Written by Reg staff)

      Re: You didn't mention the bugs

      Hey, thanks for your feedback (and everyone else)! Game writing isn't something I've done before, and I'm not sure what the conventions are, if any. Ironically, I don't read about games often but hopefully can improve over time.

      As for bugs, I suppose the main reason for not talking about it in depth (there is a cautionary mention) is that I haven't experienced many (that I've noticed) in 66 hours of play. One of my dudes got stuck once, couldn't get him off a walkway around a house in the Swamps, and I ended up reloading a save from minutes earlier. Pathfinding sometimes leaves a lot to be desired.

      So I don't really know what to talk about there. Sometimes FPS tanks but it quickly recovers and isn't unbearable, at least on my rig.

      The other reason was that I didn't want to write too much, and focus on the what the game is to me within the limit I set myself. But thank you for adding valuable information. "It's a fantastic game, but be warned" should be assumed for the majority of indie games (and these days triple-As too!), particularly one that has only just come out of Early Access.

      1. Snafu1

        Re: You didn't mention the bugs

        FWIW most 'stuck' pawns/beasts can be picked up by an unstuck pawn, then immediately dropped to 'unstick' them. Incidentally it's also a good technique used to get large animals into buildings (to fight/heal/trade as you wish)

        However one thing you didn't mention here is that the map is not randomly/procedurally[?sp!] generated, altho NPC actions are emergent as stated. This means you can always rely on the same cities & monsters etc being in the same spots on the continent, usually run by the same factions. Mods can randomise this behaviour if you wish (I notice for the pics you're running DarkUI)

        The announced & hopefully successful Kenshi 2 will apparentlky be set in the far past, before this map became the post-apocalyptic samurai battleground it now is, but that's a few years in development as yet..

  11. Jellied Eel Silver badge

    I'm also an avid gamer. For reviews, write what you think and if you've played 66hrs, that's a lot longer than a lot of game reviewers!

    As for bugs, quirks or 'features', luckily Kenshi's a bit of a cult game, so a pretty decent wiki & a lot of YT 'let's play' videos to help climb the learning wall. Pathing is one that can bite. So one town, I figured having feeding troughs for my bone dogs by the door to my stockpile would mean bandits bitten before they could loot it. Sadly, it also meant my loyal subjects also getting blocked going in/out of the stockpile, and occasionally starving, getting stuck, or slowing production chains. Trick like many games is to balance optimised production chains with leaving enough space so that folks can move around.. Or abusing pathing to keep bandits outside your walls and pepper them with x-bow bolts before they can steal all your rotten meat.

    (then again, bandits can also be a good source of sustainable bone dog food..)

    ((oh, and it's emergent gameplay can also bit. I set up a village near an NPC farm to make it nice for trading.. Which worked fine until ninjas wiped out that farm. Then again, exploiting NPC fights is probably the best way to get gear & stuff early game.. Remember, it's not stealing unless you're stopped and inspected, or there are surviving witnesses!))

  12. tiggity Silver badge

    Nice to see a games column

    Though monthly is a bit infrequent, but tiny acorns etc.

    Will it be jsut PC / console games or will it cover mobile gaming too (I know we are talking apples & oranges in game scope & complexity on mobile gaming - but phone / tablet gaming is huge and demographic extends way beyond the stereotyped "hardcore" gamer)

    I assume whatever focus, it will be covering "non blockbuster" games - as the top titles are covered all overr

    1. Excellentsword (Written by Reg staff)

      Re: Nice to see a games column

      Hello! I think if it was anything more frequent than monthly, I'd break the bank (until I can get publishers to give me review copies).

      The focus will likely mainly be PC, but console is possible too if there's an exclusive I'm hyped for (The Last of Us 2 comes to mind). Also, if a game is on more than one platform, I will 100% play it on PC. That's where all my beastly hardware lives, plus I prefer KB+M to controllers (where possible) and having my nose to a screen rather than squinting across the living room.

      I'll attempt to keep a bit of an indie/small studio bias. Not many of the big games interest me much, though I wouldn't rule them out. Mobile gaming isn't something I partake in either, consider it an old-school column.

  13. Robert Carnegie Silver badge


    Crossbows, and bionic limbs?? Hmm. Can you build a Six Million Cat Man?

    1. Excellentsword (Written by Reg staff)

      Re: Post-apocalyptic

      Yes! But they'd have to lose their limbs in unfortunate circumstances first. Though I believe there is some kind of machine to be researched that also strips limbs off...

      1. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

        Re: Post-apocalyptic

        You're pulling my leg

        1. Snafu1

          Re: Post-apocalyptic

          Well, it starts with skin, but progresses to limb removal.. Or you can be captured by cannibals; they always start with legs

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