Green Man Gaming Publishing and solo developer, Erik Rempen will guide us in a fascinating and dangerous journey to Kainga: a beautiful but ruthless world where we have to build and guide our own society.
After a positive early access, Kainga: Seeds of Civilization stepped from it to its full V1.0 Steam launch on 6th December 2022. Solo developer Erik Rempen, has created a beautiful and challenging village builder with strong roguelite elements that will test your strategic skills and often your nerves.
A living world:
Kainga is a mysterious and vast land where you can choose between 8 unlockable biomes.
You and your tribe will cross plains, deserts, jungle forests, icy mountains and barren deserts only to survive and improve your technology, but you will not walk alone.
During the journey on Kainga’s lands you’ll face other tribes with the same goal and the choice of being peaceful or aggressive is only yours.
Apart from this you will have to face the ruthless and dangerous creatures that walk this land too and sometimes, it is better to avoid them if you are not prepared for a fight.
There’s more, the weather can be cruel and hit hard on you with the fury of the elements.
A spiritual guide, a revered and dreaded figure that can guide his Braves only through his thoughts, with the ability to read the ideas from the past and transform it into technologies: this is a Thinker.
Sitting around a campfire in the Skyloft, the central hub of the game, they can prepare themselves before engaging a new challenge and descend into Kainga.
This Hub is a round hut where the player can select between the 8 unlockable Thinkers.
In the Skyloft there are some useful spots to improve your abilities like the Karma Shop where the player can spend Karma Points earned during the missions, the world map and the Challenges Spot to select missions and start the adventure.
Every Thinker has his own stats like move speed, life points, unique passive abilities, starting crew and materials. They also have peculiar abilities called Festivals: events that can be hosted during the game granting bonuses or for completing a challenge.
The Journey Begins:
Once you select the Thinker and the mission, the adventure starts and you’ll be alone with your Braves (starting troop) and few materials in a part of the randomly generated map, but be careful: the real game hasn’t started yet.
You had to place your campfire before, so that your Braves could start working and obey to your orders.
Choose wisely the campfire position, try to find a good and accessible spot, full of resources and safe from the wildlife and the other tribes. Remember this because if you make bad choices this game will be merciless, and sometimes even if you don’t. Placed the fire, the Thinker has his first Inspiration, a Shelter Technology: these are houses or huts that give repair and product Braves in exchange for food.
Then will appear some columns of lights from the ground, with peculiar icons that represent other Inspiration Points like food, combat, technologies, movement, resources and others, and obviously you need these resources to go on.
Only the Thinker can read these Spots and he needs to move towards them.
Thinking needs time, and your Thinker is special but vulnerable so you have to defend him, especially when he’s near other Kainga’s tribes or wild animals because they can be attack and hurt him.
Every three developed technologies the Thinker will move near the campfire and start to reflect about a Festival to host. If you are lucky enough you’ll find the right one to complete the mission.
Village Building and World Evolution:
You start with a Quest: fulfill separate objectives to host a specific kind of Festival. Once achieved, the mission is complete and you and the Thinker will return to the Skyloft. If the Thinker dies, or all the Braves are dead, you failed the mission.
Meanwhile the Thinker works on his Inspiration Point, you need to take care of the village evolution, making the Ideas and Technologies earned by the leader come true. Use your Braves, the core troop of the game to gather and build everything you need. Every Inspiration Point gives you three choices to pick up. They can be rerolled for free only one time and then again paying Karma Points.
Every Idea costs materials and be sure to have the right resources to build it or will be a serious problem. If you don’t like the choices or don’t want to reroll anymore, you can take a passive ability to empower the village or your people. Your Braves act in the campfire range but they can plant banners to claim new resources. If you run out of these and you can’t find more, you are in a soft lock and the only solution is to reset the quest.
Biomes and World Interaction:
Biomes are important too. It’s vital to choose the right technology for the right place: for example if you are on the cliffs or islands you need some movement technology like bridges. You need houses that can withstand certain kinds of elements, but you need the right materials to build them.
Bordering tribes can ask you for materials or trades: you can accept or deny, lowering or increasing the relationship. If too low you are at war with them.
Last but not least, watch out for wild animals. Some of them are huge, scary but inoffensive. The smaller ones can be dangerous and can put an end to your game very easily, but if you have the right technology you can tame them and use their strenght against your enemies.
As you go ahead in your game, near the Thinker’s icon, a numeric counter with a skull icon will begin to increase. The higher the number is, more intense the bad events will be.
Floods, fires, tornadoes, storms and heavy rains will periodically hit Kainga’s world, and could destroy your village or be your ally to fulfill a quest.
Technical Appearance, R.N.G. and A.I.
Kainga has a minimal graphic/audio style but it works very well with a good atmosphere, especially for the biomes, buildings and the beasts’ aspect. The human models are simple too but can be easily confused during action, like fights.
What makes Kainga interesting and different from a simple village builder is the roguelite element. Anyone with experience in this genre knows how hard and frustrating it can be when you get a bad luck run, but we accept this as a part of the experience.
Unfortunately the game has too many random elements in his quest construction: spawn point, thinking points, access to them and biomes conformation are completely random.
Often the ideas you obtain could be useless for the quest and maybe you will not obtain anymore. Wrong terrain for planting food, missing technologies or resources run out for quest completion and can’t reach any others. Advancing in the game experience you can learn how to choose the right technology and manage what the game gives you, and thanks to the shop you can buy more of these.
Even if I appreciate the trial and error mode, unfortunately the challenge often leaves room for an unfair situation where you have only to restart the run.
A.I. doesn’t help the experience too. Sometimes Braves will be stuck while working, drawn accidentally in the water, throw themselves into the flames of a burning house or simply don’t respond to your orders.
What’s the Point:
Kainga: Seeds of Civilization is a little gem in the indie world: a solid and layered Village builder with strong Roguelite elements and very good core ideas. But It’s not flawless and sometimes its problems ruin the good ideas said before and break the game experience.
Fortunately the solo developer Erik Rempen, is listening to the community and he’s working on patches to improve the experience.
Personally I hope to re-play this game in a while and see the changes it needs. Because it deserves to be better and to be played by as many people as possible!
Kainga on Twitter
Kainga official trailer
Kainga: Seeds of Civilization
- Minimal graphic/audio style and good atmosphere
- Good challenging quests
- Solid and layered mechanics
- Good game design ideas
- Too many random elements
- A.I. issues