It’s a tough world out there for tribal living. If you and the boys stay aware and keep moving forward, you might just make it out alive.
Developer: Erik Rempen
Publisher: Green Man Gaming Publishing
Release date: 11 November, 2021
Survival city builders are quite the wild ride. On one hand, they offer something of a slow-burning casual progression where you become attached to the settlement that you’ve built from scratch. On the other, if your creation doesn’t have a satisfactory level of production and a functioning logistical network, your population is likely doomed.
Kainga: Seed of Civilization honors this tradition. With much faster scenarios than the norm based on accomplishing objectives, your settlement evolves rapidly with or without your intervention. If you’re expanding and improving at a fast pace, victory may be yours in less than an hour. If you’re not, either nature itself or rival tribes will swallow you up in a much shorter timeframe.
The Thinker and His Braves
In Kainga, your leader is referred to as The Thinker and these characters are integral to your survival. In an immediate sense, you lose if they die. Some thinkers are tougher than others which is a nice perk, though others are made of paper and may have their existence ended from a strong wind (literally, in some cases). However, not dying isn’t their only role as they’re also your innovators. At the start of each scenario, you have a small band of tribe members and it’s up to The Thinker to find inspirations around the world to bolster your technology with new buildings and tools. Progress is gated by your Thinker so you’ll need to make sure they’re working as efficiently as possible by claiming the glowing inspirations around the map while managing the rest of your settlement.
Braves are everyone else. They may not have the individual impact of your Thinker, but they’re your laborers, hunters, breeders, and so on. Nothing happens without braves to make it so. Scenarios begin with only a handful of these accompanying your Thinker, but their population will grow quickly with proper housing and sufficient food. They’ll also be the ones protecting everything that you’ve worked so hard to establish, so training a few of them into more efficient warriors is a must.
Through the Ages
Your village will grow and expand in different ways depending on which discoveries you choose. Each time your Thinker has a breakthrough, you’ll be offered three building options, one of which you can adapt into your constructible lineup. These vary from a wide variety of industries to vastly different housing options, military training structures, and beyond. One village may make use of large farming homesteads that create fertile soil around them even in deserts while another takes advantage of extremely cheap and fragile straw huts to quickly grow their population. I suppose with such a simple housing choice it’s only natural that they enjoy the cheapest activity around and it’s a good thing too, as you get more braves out of it! Another nice touch is that if you decided that none of the three options for the inspiration are pulling at you, you can choose to roll up three tools instead. These tools provide passive bonuses that affect your settlement and braves in a variety of useful ways, like hats that allow them to work freely in the rain, or buckets that allow them to move at full speed while carrying resources.
One of my personal favorite villages was when I had a row of fishing huts on an oasis that cranked out a crazy amount of food even though I was in a desert. With food taken care of, the environment provided enough of the other necessary resources that I quickly secured a victory. In turn, I saved that housing type to my thinker, which is an enjoyable rogue-lite mechanic that ties your games together and lets you bring along certain technologies that you enjoy. I also got a kick out of gaining karma for certain milestones and completed scenarios. This was used as a currency for unlocking new technologies for future runs. Even though the title is in Early Access, there were a lot of options available. If more of these keep being added to the game, there’s going to be a massive amount of replay value in this one.
Kainga: Seeds of Civilization offers a relatively new experience that I had a lot of fun with even in an incomplete stage of development. Most of the regions that you can play in are still locked, though the game that’s already in place is a solid foundation for something that could be great. It may not have the depth of Crusader Kings or Dominions, but it certainly offers a casual-ish settlement builder that will keep you coming back for more thanks to its randomized inspirations. I’m looking forward to seeing the direction that this one takes and I’ll certainly be popping in to see more of it when we get there.