The Secret Games Company takes us on a trip in 1880s India through the eyes of the young orphan Kim, a character based on the book by Rudyard Kipling with the same name. Kim is a top down procedural generated adventure/rpg set in the colonial India. It follows the story of Kim, a young orphan boy of irish descent who lives and tries to survive in the streets. There, one day he meets a lama who is in a holy quest. Kim, in the spur of the moment and driven by a sence of adventure, decides to join and help him.
The game has elements of survival, rpg and stealth mechanics. You will have to manage Kim’s health on your journey, you will have to carry food with you and sleep when you have to. If you can afford it you can travel by train but if not then you can walk in the Indian wilderness but must be careful for bandits and wild animals. Depending on the way you talk with the people then you gain or loose merit with them and that has different effects on your adventure. Also, depending on your answer you might level up one of the skills you have as a character. There are some conversations where you will have the choice of what to do next or who to help and that gives a nice rpg element to the game.
The graphics are 2d painted maps with a lot of detail to both the countryside and the cities. You can notice tigers and elephants roaming the wilderness, campsites and people around them. The city people are going on their everyday life, policemen and army men upholding the law. The problem I had with the city maps was that most of the buildings look alike and they might get confusing. I spent a lot of time trying to find areas of interest and when you enter a city there are no icons to inform you about which of the buildings might be important. You need to move close to them in order to see if it is a house that you can break in or a mosque that you can visit.
The soundtrack of the game works wonderfully in giving another sense of adventure and atmosphere to the world. Traditional indian music follows you in whatever you do and paints another sonic picture of the colonian India that you explore.
Kim is based in Rudyard Kiplings book with the same title and the game begins the same way, by meeting and helping the guru to his pilgrimage. The story though is one you make and you are free to explore the cities the way you like. You start as a young boy and you play until you become 18 years old. During the game time you can help people with their needs, you can steal and kill to survive, you can travel around to see the wilderness begging for your food and a place to sleep.
The problems I found though were that, even though there are a lot of npc’s in the game. most of them you meet don’t say anything and you need to search hard in order to find quests that might reward you. At some point you will run out of money and when you can’t find any from quests in order to buy food and shelter, you become sick and you might die. As a result, the most viable solution is to become a thief, break into houses or attack other people. I believe the pacifist approach should be a bit more balanced for those of us who want to enjoy a more calm journey into India’s cities.
There is a lot of text in the game, descriptions about the cities you visit, conversations you make with people and also descriptions about Kim’s journey. The text, even though is faithful to the original style and tone Kipling used, has a lot of words, titles and names taken from India’s society of the era. That might become a bit tiring, trying to understand all the titles and what is being talked about in the sentences, especially if you have not read the book or are not familliar with India’s culture. At some point I got lost in all this information and I had to search about what everything means so I have a better understanding of the situation I was in.
The stealth and battle mechanics work ok but they are not that exciting and they do not offer something groundbreaking in the genre. They are mostly stripped down to one button action, which gets repetitive pretty fast. You will use them when you have to, especially when you run out of money, but they mostly feel like a chore and not like another part of the game that could add to the whole experience.
All in all, if you enjoy semi-historical games that explore a very interesting era that we don’t usually see in other titles and you can afford the asking price, then you might want to check Kim. It is a well crafted title as far as art style and music goes but needs more things to do in the game in order to make the world more immersive and alive and also a bit of gameplay refining, to add more excitement in it’s battle and stealth mechanics. Of course it is still in Early Access therefore many things might change and be added in the final release. It is though an interesting game to keep an eye for.
You can begin your trip into colonial India by buying Kim on Steam at the price of 19,99€.
-Dimitris “Dimi Kaye” Kalyvas