Finding the DNA of Fable in Kynseed

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By Tan Montana on July 17th, 2021

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With a trailer, vague statements from Phil Spencer and the Forza engine to power it, I think it’s safe to say that Fable 4 is very real. What that means exactly, I have not a clue. I mean, unless this just another very powerful and secretive card game? I could muse on theories and what I want and wish as a long-standing fan (and enemy) of the franchise. But, instead, let’s look back to the very first Fable and how perhaps it’s still seeing realization in indie games. Kynseed in particular.

the familiar beginnings of kynseed

Kynseed is a bit of an enigma as a game. Not only does it have a lot of content, but it has a deep history of inspiration. While it’s easy to term any game with pixel art and farming is the new Stardew Valley or farming sim (an unfortunate reoccurrence with Kynseed in particular) that would be a shallow comparison for both of them. From my time playing Kynseed and seeing it develop through consistent updates, it’s certainly grown into the originally promised game in the initial Kickstarter. Well, maybe not fully but, it’s getting there. Kynseed is now a fairytale epic with a massive world, evolving and ageing characters, and more activities than I could possibly achieve in my initial playthrough.

The diverging paths of fable

There’s a reason Kynseed reminds me so much of the original Fable, or more, what Fable was to become. Between the soundtrack by Matthijs dn Daas and a title track by Fable composer Russel Shaw, as well as other ex-Lionhead developers, Kynseed has a team that understands what makes the genre suitable. Considering the farming simulation indie scene again, it’s a lot closer to Fable than it is to other farming sims. And though it might have its developmental origins in Fable, it’s more the spirit of the original game’s concept that Kynseed carries forward. The setting may be entirely different from Albion, but the whimsical approach to worldbuilding and darker elements is very similar. There’s a distinct sort of fantasy that this team wants to make, and between the freedom of being an indie team and the years of experience they’ve gained, it absolutely shows through. There’s also something about the uniquely stylized and complex pixel art that captures the world in a way that I’m certain will remain timeless. Occasionally the team will stream their process for designing and drawing map sprites, and it truly is a craft of love and skill.

While farming may play somewhat into the progression system, there’s so much more to the broader world of Quill, the setting for Kynseed. The environment and exploration are not condensed to a single town but instead a larger world filled with forests, caves, and even other smaller hamlets. Of course, this is still expanding, as is the case with early access, but it leads me to think about the branching paths of game creation and what perhaps the original Fable could have been had it had more time or understood its own limits.

Regardless, all these years and a franchise later, that goal is still being chased. Hopefully, Fable 4 can be a new beginning for the franchise. Kynseed and Pixelcount Studios have forged their own path forward, learning from their developmental process on the course. I would be interested to see how these two very different games end up; after all, they do share the same origins.

EDIT: Article updated to properly reflect and give credit to the composer of the game.

Tan is a Tabletop RPG writer with a deep love for give-'em-a-chance indie games and music made on a ten-year-old laptop in Audacity. They drink their seltzer warm.

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