Playing God, as anyone can imagine, can be quite satisfying. This formula was proven to be a success in video game lore when Populous and SimCity arrived as both games redefined the video game industry and were the pre-cursor to modern-day real-time strategy games.
Forging a New Civilization
In Kainga: Seeds of Civilization, you start with a 'Thinker', the group leader of the tribe, and a handful of loyal followers. From there you can command your followers to begin construction on various buildings and complete certain objectives to keep your tribe happy and expand your boundaries.
Your 'Thinker' as the name implies, is the main character in the game and boasts some magical influence over its people and land. Throughout the game, you must guide him over areas of influence, marked by glowing beams of light on the map, so that he gains knowledge. This knowledge is then used to open up abilities and structures needed to successfully complete specific missions and tasks. The technology tree is rather robust so you'll have all sorts of fun playing with them and seeing what they can do.
Constructing basic structures is key to survival. Building homes, for example, will produce more followers which will help with the more advanced task later in the game. As you advance further, more sophisticated buildings and structures will open up and be available to you. The neat thing about Kainga is that it plays out slightly differently depending on the map you've chosen, which increases the replayability factor considerably.
Build, Trade, Think, and Protect
Despite the 'Thinkers' frail and decrepit appearance, he moves around like a sly fox, so you'll need to keep an eye on him or assign a few followers to act as bodyguards as he is prone to wandering off on his own and getting himself killed. And because he plays such a crucial role in the survival of your tribe, once he dies, it's pretty much game over.
Kainga's visuals are a real treat and create a kind of dreamlike poetry, similar to those images you imagine when waking from a twilight sleep. Its visual style is so distinctive and appealing that the game, quite frankly, seduced me. Your tribe will do their best to make their village thrive by living in harmony with nature and being wise about the mythical creatures they share the land with.
In this and countless other ways, in fact, they remind me of Native American Indians. Like them, they tame another species to carry them around, not horses per se, but graceful flying dragon-like creatures and slow walking gigantic snails. Small graceful details like swaying trees and the wisp of the gentle breeze embody the wonders of nature and give the world astonishing life.
The terrain also deserves commendation as it sets you up for some strategic maneuvering. For example, hills extend visual ranges which makes it difficult to cast short-range weapons. In addition, moving terrain, like the islands floating on clouds, can be difficult for your followers to traverse making them vulnerable to falls and enemy fire.
You Are the Architect of Tomorrow
Overall, Kainga: Seeds of Civilization is a grand and unique city-building game, made even better by the visuals and addictive gameplay, which is a nice change from the traditional games that have come out recently.
I must confess, however, that the story did not inspire me at first, as I scoffed at the premise but ultimately stayed to smile in the end. Kainga is a fresh entry into a stagnating genre and is definitely worth a purchase especially for fans of the original Populous and for newcomers alike looking for a solid gaming experience.
Healthcare Professional, Gamer, and Writer all rolled up in one. He once opened up an old Atari 2600 to see if it had a heart ... and it did. Hence, the lifelong love affair with gaming.