Kenshi. Where do I start. It's about how the game feels when you start it for the first time. This is a game in development and somehow I just love it. When it's done, how I interpret it and see it, it is the ultimate RPG game. In a rich and huge (can't underline, but I would) world, filled with cities in biodomes and people, trees, water, dirt... In this world you can become a trader, a looter, a scavanger, but you can also found your own town, find new people for the party (very large parties) and become a power of your own. This sandbox RPG does sound a little too good to be true, but I don't know, it already delivers a lot and I recommend you come and see for yourself. Me and a lot of others are already enjoying Kenshi.
I can recommend this game to people who also like traditional RPG's, but also RPG's like Fable for instance (there are characters, they grow, and there are factions, you are one), people who liked building the village in Assassins Creed 3, people who like minecraft (the playthrough is what you make of it), even people who like Settlers or even Age of Empires! I recommend this game basicly to everyone who plays other games then Call of Duty, as long as you can live with early-access situations in which you play a bêta or even alpha of the end result though. But getting it now if you're interested does save you money in the (very) long run.
There are factions that all have their own diplomatic stances towards you and eachother, there are bandits raiding unprotected people. You can do whatever you want. So if you want your faction (you are your own faction) to become powerfull, train your party and have an army. If you want to become a trader, train them strong so they can pack a lot of stuff, if you want your own city... start building! The characters do not level up as is tradition, you train each skill by training that skill specifically by doing things that require the skill. Which according to me works.
The game is really hard, especially at the start. You start with almost nothing and you have to struggle for survival. I usually start with luring bandits to patrols and towns to get them to fight (and die) to then pick their bodies clean like a damned vulture. Sell their stuff at a merchant, buy new equipment, repeat, get a teammate or two and start to choose a place to settle down.
edit: I picked up the game again at version 0.62 and I have to say: it has improved since 0.50. It still feels the same (unpolished, cheap), but with the added notifications of approaching bandits, audio signals when under attack, female characters and at least some means of negociating with bandits I can only say: good work the last few months! Hair looks great, bodies look good, the rack on one of my partymembers is really too big, but looks good (not trying to be a sexist here, pointing out a detail) even beneath armor. I just wish someone would come to my stores to buy my goods, I don't want to walk to towns to sell them anymore ;)
I again had a good time, so I'm sticking with the good review.
The thing is though that you do have to create your own adventures and the world isn't alive enough yet to fully appreciate this. However, after playing with the same guys for over 30hrs, having built a town, having been in quite some sticky situations... my party did kind of grow on me. With the latest patches I did miss some of the buildings to build, but it was a step forward and I enjoyed myself.
Kenshi began for me when I read about it in March 2013 (who knows how long development will take), and read about a game about a man with a sword (the title translates into the swordsman, I believe) in a world. And he can do whatever he wants. The world is still empty, but it's more of a playable techdemo. In the end it will be a beautifull world, the graphics already are worth showing. So I tried it, lost a few hours immediatly. Later I found it again on Steam and decided to buy it.
A part of the experience now is that you are able to see a game being developed by a very small team. As I learned through the fora it was being made by one man. Just one man, this sounded like the late 80's and early 90's and I loved it. And by being able to sell this on Steam he made enough money to hire people and it is becoming very nice. The money is really being put to good use!!!
Besides this curious development by first one man, I have never seen this much fan-made artwork for any game of this magnitude, and the game hasn't even been finished yet! There already is a lot of content available ingame, some maybe replaced and a lot more will come, but I wouldn't worry about the amount of game you're buying. Especially if you find this game on a sale and you're into sandbox games, I would go for it! I'm not even an RPG fan, but I did go for it and I'm happy I did.
Usually with playtesting a game, there is room for feedback. There is no room for that here, the developer is too small to answer. The fora are spread over several locations and the information freely available may be confusing. But the price goes up as it's being patched towards a release candidate so spend the little the game costs now and join the ride. With every patch the game is one step further, and you can actually feel it. There is a demo available on the website of the game, but I believe it's made of a much older version, and the older the version... the less you might like it, but worth a shot!
So the bottom line: yes it feels like a cheap game (expect bugs and crashes), but the price is low as well and the game isn't done yet. But I spent those 50hrs or so with satisfaction, and I know that soon I'm going to pick it up again for another 12hrs (maybe more, who knows). At the time of writing patch 0.62 is out. A good step forward since version 0.50, but I might change my recommendation if the game does not feel a lot more polished in about a year from now. Everyone I know who owns this game are completely hooked since the latest patches. For a part my recommendation is because I admire the creator, and after the Steam release I can see the money being put to good use so I absolutely support Kenshi and it's developer Chris who founded Lo-Fi Games and I really want to see this happening. It already is, and that's the fun part. Come and join the ride!