Ever since its release, Lo-Fi Games’ Kenshi was praised for never-before-seen sandbox mechanics. Most games in the RPG genre tend to mask linear storytelling and gameplay with open-world mechanics and some degree of customizability.

Kenshi allows the player to create their experience as they see fit, unrestricted by typical role-playing game mechanics like overpowered hero characters or linear quests and missions. Kenshi offers unparalleled gameplay freedom, but it’s hardly the first game to try giving the player plenty of slack in terms of playstyle.

Games like Kenshi
GameReleaseGenreDeveloperSale
Dwarf Fortress 2022-12-06 Strategy Bay 12 Games
Valheim 2021-02-02 Sanbox, survival Iron Gate Studio 12%
Against the Storm 2022-11-01 Simulation Eremite Games 23%
Smalland: Survive the Wilds 2023-03-29 Survival Merge Games
Satisfactory 2020-06-08 Building Coffee Stain Studios 39%
Factorio 2016-02-25 Indie Wube Software
Devil May Cry 5 Vergil 2019-03-08 Action Capcom 79%
Bayonetta 2017-04-11 Action & Shooter PlatinumGames 66%
Frostpunk 2018-04-24 Simulation 11 bit studios 86%
RimWorld 2016-07-15 Indie Ludeon Studios 8%
Darksiders Genesis 2019-12-05 Adventure Airship Syndicate 82%
Mount & Blade: Warband 2010-03-31 Adventure TaleWorlds Entertainment 80%
The Elder Scrolls V Skyrim Special Edition 2016-10-27 Adventure Bethesda Game Studios 75%
Darksiders 2 Deathinitive Edition 2015-11-05 Fighting Gunfire Games 86%
Darksiders 3 Deluxe Edition 2018-11-27 Adventure Gunfire Games 90%
Darksiders Warmastered Edition 2010-09-23 Adventure Vigil Games 72%
Devil May Cry Hd Collection 2018-03-13 Adventure CAPCOM CO., LTD. 75%
Hellblade Senuas Sacrifice 2017-08-08 Adventure Ninja Theory 85%
The Elder Scrolls V Skyrim Anniversary Edition 2021-11-11 RPG Bethesda Game Studios 66%
Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order 2019-11-15 Adventure Respawn Entertainment
Titan Quest Anniversary Edition 2016-08-31 RPG Iron Lore Entertainment 83%
Titan Quest Atlantis 2019-05-09 RPG Pieces Interactive 59%
Assassins Creed Odyssey Standard Edition 2018-10-05 Action Ubisoft Quebec 82%

Dwarf Fortress

Release date:2022-12-06
Genre:Strategy
Developer:Bay 12 Games

If you ask about more games like Kenshi, Dwarf Fortress will most likely be one of the most frequent suggestions. This dwarf life simulator is one of the most complex titles available on the market, but this is exactly what makes it so beautiful!

Your objective in the primary mode is to run a successful dwarf colony. There’s no end goal, you just keep on going until either your colony gets destroyed by various threats and hazards or you just get bored and stop playing altogether (or simply start a new game).

It’s definitely a punishing, incredibly complex title. If you love such stuff, you’ll be definitely amazed by what this classic game has to offer. Dwarf Fortress recently ended up on Steam, complete with new features and overhauled visuals. If you enjoyed Kenshi, picking up this one should be your next step. The developers keep updating it, so it’s pretty much a never-ending story!

Key features
  • An incredibly complex and overwhelming simulation of a fantasy world
  • You get to run a dwarf colony for as long as you like (or as long as all the external forces and threats let you), in addition to some other game modes
  • The new version features lovely pixel art-style visuals

Valheim

Release date:2021-02-02
Genre:Sanbox, survival
Developer:Iron Gate Studio

Where do Vikings who die in combat go before they end up in Valhalla? Valheim has the answer. Alright, it’s a completely fictional tale, but let’s pretend it’s an actual part of Norse mythology, OK?

So, you’re one of the slain Vikings who need to prove that they’re worthy of Valhalla. To do that, you need to kill the six bosses who dwell in various biomes of Valheim. The thing is you start with pretty much nothing, so you’ll need to resort to exploration, crafting and all the other stuff that is a staple of modern survival games, including resource gathering.

There’s even the possibility to play the game with your friends, as well as do some friendly PVP. All in all, it’s a fun survival game that you should try out if you’re a fan of the genre.

Key features
  • A fun survival game inspired by Norse mythology
  • Combat inspired by the action genre
  • One of the best titles available in early access

Against the Storm

Release date:2022-11-01
Genre:Simulation
Developer:Eremite Games

Beavers, lizards, humans and harpies can totally work together, especially if survival is at stake. This is what Against the Storm is all about.

The premise is sort of reminiscent of Frospunk in a way. A certain cataclysm destroyed the old world and you, the Viceroy appointed by the Scorched Queen herself, are to build a network of cities which will uncover the treasures of the bygone era and withstand the never-ending storms.

That’s right: in contrast to other city builders, here you won’t be building just one city. Against the Storm also features some roguelite elements: should your expedition fail, you will have to start anew, but bolstered with the resources and experience from the previous quest.

Key features
  • You can build a network of cities where beavers, humans, lizards and harpies will live together in harmony
  • Each race in the game has different needs and strengths
  • Roguelite elements

Smalland: Survive the Wilds

Release date:2023-03-29
Genre:Survival
Developer:Merge Games

Smallaland’s premise is very reminiscent of Grounded. No, you don’t play as kids who got shrunk to a miniature size, but as some fairytale folks (tiny, too). However, you still get to explore the secrets hidden by grass and fight bugs as equals.

Smallaland follows the precepts of modern survival games. You need to explore various lands, gather resources required for crafting and construction, build bases, fight hostile creatures, etc. It’s just the fact that everything is so huge which makes the premise and the setting so special.

There are some fun traversal options, too. Jumping around on a grasshopper? No problem! Smallaland supports up to ten players who can cooperate together and fight for survival as one.

Key features
  • A survival game in the vein of Grounded
  • You can tame and ride grasshoppers, damselflies, and spiders
  • You’ll get to fight tons of nasty bugs

Satisfactory

Release date:2020-06-08
Genre:Building
Developer:Coffee Stain Studios

Satisfactory is sort of what you would get if you blended Factorio with, say, No Man’s Sky. The premise is quite simple: you explore an alien planet where you need to build your own factory.

And you’re free to unleash your creativity. The sky’s the limit! The planets have enough resources for you to make the wildest ideas come true. Remember: the point is to reduce manual labor to a minimum. Automation is where it’s at!

Naturally, you might run into hostile wildlife. Thankfully, your employer, FICSIT Inc., has equipped you with all you need for combat and exploration. So, if you’re ready, let’s get to work!

Key features
  • You’ll get to build your dream factories
  • Plenty of resources to gather and hostile lifeforms to dispose of
  • Up to four players can play Satisfactory in the co-op mode (you can increase this limit via some modifications to the game)

Factorio

Release date:2016-02-25
Genre:Indie
Developer:Wube Software LTD.

One of the critical features of Kenshi is base management. In the game, the player can create their own fortress and upgraded it with new buildings and facilities. Kenshi shares that feature with Factorio – an RTS that’s all about constructing and managing the player’s base.

In Factorio, the player’s task is to build a factory and expand it by gathering resources and materials to construct more advanced machines. The game can be played indefinitely, but the victory condition is to launch a rocket into space. The game features elements of survival, as the player faces against the dangerous creatures inhabiting the areas around the factory. Equipping it with a strong defense system is crucial to fending off attacks. Factorio features a multiplayer mode, which can be played both competitively and in co-op. Factorio was met with positive reception from the critics and was also well received by the players.

Key features
  • Expansive RTS focusing on base management
  • Build and expand your factory by gathering resources and automating the production processes
  • Defend your base from dangerous fauna, don’t let it hinder your progress

Frostpunk

Release date:2018-04-24
Genre:Simulation
Developer:11 bit studios

Another title that, similarly to Kenshi, features management of the player’s settlement, with a dash of survival thrown in for good measure, is Frostpunk. Unlike previously mentioned Factorio, this one has an actual plot.

 

After the eruptions of volcanoes Krakatoa and Mount Tambora, the sun was dimmed, bringing about another ice age. To counter the deadly effects of cold weather, the British developed a system of heat generators, around which cities were built.

As the leader of one such city, the player’s job is to acquire resources to expand their settlement and provide its citizens with so desperately needed warmth. Gameplay-wise, Frostpunk is very similar to Factorio: the player starts building their city from scratch, gathering resources to expand. What makes Frostpunk stand out are expanded city management options, such as introducing laws and policies, increasing support by either good leadership or force, etc. The fate of the city depends on the player’s decisions, so each one should be well thought through. Frostpunk was met with critical acclaim and was nominated to several awards, winning Strategy of the Year 2018 at Australian Game Awards.

Key features
  • A survival-strategy game set in an ice age-like environment
  • Build your city and provide its citizen with safety and warmth
  • Rule with compassion or through fear in expansive city management system

RimWorld

Release date:2016-07-15
Genre:Indie
Developer:Ludeon Studios

RimWorld offers bridges the gap between Factorio’s lack of narrative and Frostpunk’s story-story driven gameplay. RW features a system of randomly generated events.

 

Through A.I. storytellers, the player can experience different types of scenarios, varying in difficulty. The events that occur in the game can be good, neutral, or bad, and the choice of storyteller determines the frequency of the bad ones.

RW features mechanics similar to Frostpunk. The player must tend to their colony settlement as well as the needs of its inhabitants. Keeping the spirits high and bellies full is essential in keeping the morale of the colonists. Developing the colony requires gathering resources and using them to erect new structures. Technological developments can be made to facilitate better operation an improved living conditions in the colony. The game also features a combat system in which players must protect their territory from attacks by developing strong defenses. RimWorld’s reviews were generally positive. Especially the game’s challenging mechanics were compared favorably to other titles in the genre.

Key features
  • Settle an unknown world
  • Expand your colony and tend to its inhabitants needs
  • A.I. storytellers determine the randomized events in the game

Mount & Blade: Warband

Release date:2010-03-31
Genre:Adventure
Developer:TaleWorlds Entertainment

In Kenshi, there are no limits on who the player can be. There are no intricate storylines, no heroes or classes – everything depends on the player’s actions in the game. Mount & Blade: Warband offers similar freedom of choosing the protagonist’s destiny.

While not determined by in-game actions, the introduction to the game allows the player to decide on the background of their character, which slightly influences their standing in the in-game society – a lowly peasant will be perceived differently than an heir to a noble title.

The gameplay of M & B: Warband focuses on forging alliances with local rulers and gaining their trust through feats in combat. The game emphasizes a realistic approach to Medieval lifestyle – aside from wars, there are other activities the player might enjoy, such as tourneys, feasts organized by kings, etc. In time the player will be given a fief as a token of their liege’s trust. That provides an additional aspect of managing a small settlement by providing it with resources and defending from bandits. Reviews for Warband were mostly positive: critics praised the length and replayability of the game.

Key features
  • Become a knight and offer your services to kings
  • Hone your combat prowess in battle and social skills in the game’s many side activities
  • Win the kings’ favor and enjoy the spoils of wars you’ve helped win

Kingdom Come: Deliverance

Release date:2019-06-11
Genre:Adventure
Developer:Warhorse Studios

Like Kenshi and Warband, Kingdom Come: Deliverance emphasizes player’s choice in forging their path in the game. In KC: D, the player develops their character, a young boy named Henry, investing in various skills and traits.

Depending on which skills the player decides to emphasize, the character will behave differently. The player can also develop combat acuity with specific weapons. With such a robust skill customization system, the only limit is the player’s imagination. Nothing stops them from creating a well-read scholar, a master swordsman with a penchant for herbalism, or a brutal barbarian swinging his ax at everyone.

Kingdom Come: Deliverance plays similarly to Warband, with a caveat that in this game, there is a plot the player can choose to follow. Other than that, the same sandbox features apply. Dare we say that Deliverance takes the whole medieval schtick a little bit more seriously, with the number of factors that influence the gameplay – the character’s needs, layered clothing that determines protection, physics-based weapons behavior, and much more. KC:D received positive reviews from the critics and won several awards, including the Player’s Wards’ RPG of the year 2018.

Key features
  • An open-world Medieval adventure
  • Explore the Kingdom of Bohemia at the time of great turmoil
  • Develop the protagonist Henry to your desire, equipping him with skills and traits he’ll need to make it in the world

Ark: Survival Evolved

Release date:2015-06-02
Genre:MMO, survival
Developer:Efecto Studios

Kenshi might’ve pushed the envelope when it comes to the game’s with general premise of starting from scratch in an unknown world. But it was Ark: Survival Evolved that capitalized on the trend of putting the player in remote locations with little resources, forcing them to survive in the wild. Also, it has dinosaurs, which is always a plus.

The core gameplay mechanics of A: SE involve survival. At the beginning of the game, the player has little to no resources and has to work with what they have to create tools to build shelter, hunt for food, and protect themselves. And boy, do they need protection. Everything, from starvation, dehydration, and sunstrokes, to dangerous dinos roaming the island, is out for the player’s life. Luckily, the prehistoric reptiles provide an excellent source of materials and food, and taming them can help significantly with exploration and combat. Nothing makes a better statement than riding into battle on a T-Rex. Reviews of Ark: Survival Evolved were generally positive, with critics praising the detailed survival gameplay and exciting setting of the game.

Key features
  • Survive on an island full of dangerous reptiles
  • Explore the locations for resources to build shelter
  • Protect yourself from the elements and create tools to bend the nature to your will

The Forest

Release date:2018-04-30
Genre:Adventure
Developer:Endnight Games Ltd

Compare to an island inhabited by dinosaurs in Ark: Survival Evolved, the setting of The Forest is pretty bland. That is until the cannibals appear.

 

Then you realize that despite its humble presentation, Endnight Games’ survival title has a lot to offer. Gameplay mechanics? Very similar to the ones in Ark, and equally as punitive.

The player has to make tools to build shelter, find resources, fend off aggressors, and remember to eat something before they pass out from exhaustion. here is a plot about a plane crashing in the mysterious forest, and the only survivors are a man and his son. When the child is kidnapped, the father pursues the abductors, discovering a cannibalistic cult and mysterious creatures living in the underground tunnels. Not the best storyline, but does its job of keeping the player engaged and giving them a sense of purpose other than making another wooden shed. The Forest was met with generally solid reception from the critics.

Key features
  • Explore the mysterious forest and find your son
  • Make tools and build shelter to survive in hostile environment
  • Manage your needs, such as thirst and hunger, before you pass out from exhaustion

Conan: Exiles

Release date:2017-01-30
Genre:Adventure
Developer:Funcom

Based on the Conan the Barbarian franchises, Exiles puts the player in an uneasy situation of being stranded in a harsh and hostile environment and having to fend for themselves to survive…yet again.

What C: E does that the previous mention on our list didn’t, is that it gives the player larger freedom of creating their experience without taking away the sense of purpose.

The player begins by creating their in-game avatar, choosing from various physical features and races, including Conan’s kin, the Cimmerians. From that point forward, the game opens its gates to the player, pushing them face-first into the dangerous world of Exiled Lands. Like in Ark, The Forest, and other survival games, the player must keep an eye on the character’s needs, build survival tools, fight enemies, etc. The game doesn’t feature class system – similarly to Kingdom Come: Deliverance, the player, invests experience points into specific skills and attributes. Conan: Exiles was released to solid reviews from the critics, who noted the expanded character customization and survival mechanics.

Key features
  • Robust customization options
  • Expansive survival mechanics
  • ”Create-your-own-experience” style of gameplay

Rust

Release date:2018-02-08
Genre:Adventure
Developer:Facepunch Studios

While pretty much the same in terms of mechanics as the previous few mentions on our list, Rust goes into a slightly different direction by emphasizing multiplayer over single-player experience.

Other similarities to Kenshi can be found pretty much in every aspect of the gameplay, from starting with little to no resources to lack of character classes. The game emphasizes the player’s resourcefulness, clever use of crafting, and occasional drops as well as cooperation.

As a strictly multiplayer game, Rust encourages the players to team up into clans. Said clans can build bases for themselves to store crafted items and resources. The players organized in a clan can partake in raids against other factions, which provides an additional source of materials. The game also has a sort of free market, where players can exchange goods. Looking for trouble there is discouraged by auto-turrets that will vaporize anyone who draws a weapon. Rust received solid reviews from the critics.

Key features
  • A multiplayer survival game set in an open-world sandbox environment
  • Gather resources and craft items to survive in the battle royale against other players
  • Play solo or form a clan to achieve greater goals

DayZ

Release date:2013-12-16
Genre:Adventure
Developer:Bohemia Interactive

Last but not the least, an Arma 3 mod that the fans liked so much it was made into an actual video game. In DayZ, the player is thrown into the middle of a zombie apocalypse.

Their task is to survive against the undead hordes as well as other players. The player can try and make it out there alone or team up into a group with other survivors. The mechanics of the game emphasize survival with all that entails, including staying healthy and well-fed.

What makes DayZ a game similar to Kenshi? Perhaps it’s the fact that the game doesn’t restrain the player in any shape or form. They can go anywhere and do anything. With no defined goal to accomplish, the player can enjoy playing the game the way they choose to. While the game isn’t a single-player title, it can be played solo without feeling like the player is missing something. DayZ is a true definition of a sandbox game – a bunch of features thrown together for the player to enjoy. Like it’s mod version, DayZ was met with a generally positive reception from the critics.

Key features
  • Open-world sandbox gameplay
  • Mechanics that emphasize crafting and survival
  • Enjoyable both as a solo and multiplayer experience

There’s no denying that Kenshi went far and ahead, offering a truly unique gameplay experience. But, as we have shown in our list, the mechanics of the game are far from revolutionary. Plenty of titles have used them before, to better or worse effect. Does it make Kenshi a bad or repetitive game? No. Kenshi works because it manages to blend all of these different gameplay features into a full-fledged experience.

Will Lo-Fi Games’ title set a new standard for RPG games? Time will tell. But for now, you can enjoy it as well as all the other games from our list that share similar gameplay mechanics.