Waking up in a cold, damp basement, you wonder “didn’t I die in the electric chair?”. Dr Kindeman approaches you and says you are next in line for his experiments. Now you know, he will go on about executing awful tortures on you, for the greater good, so he says. You can only pray it will be quick and that it’s better than that old prison routine. But routine is really what The Kindeman Remedy is all about.
In Troglobytes games’ latest title, after other games such as Edo no Yami, we play as the mad doctor and “the lascivious” Sister Anna as well. They will collaborate in a miraculous science project, with the doctor needing bodies to experiment on. They come in two different tastes: dead ones which can be used to extract a reactant from and alive ones, to torture and progress work on the remedy. During the day, the doctor will be busy making pills and drips, with Anna administering them to the prisoners.
But of course, you don’t want to kill everyone, there is a reputation to maintain. Instead, if you cure them as you should, those rep points can be used to unlock new stuff (such as an acid bath in the basement, to quickly dispose of corpses). Behind all that gruesome torture and grime, this is a management game where you have to juggle daily tasks between two characters. At night, Sister Anna becomes useless, only the doctor is left alone working on bodies and creating reactant, which will be used on those condemned to death row.
The game is unbalanced towards our dear doctor, which would be interesting if he was a character who we could relate to. Instead, he’s Dr West in “Re-animator”, fixated on his work and considering everyone around him as jerks. There is some romantic tension with sister Theresa, but not much is made of it. Or even of his interactions with his experiment Percy, who seems to be there just as a throwaway joke (at one point he quotes System of a Down). The plot seemed like it could be interesting, but it rarely has actual gameplay consequences, if not in the long run. Like, getting introduced to a fan of Kindeman who can actually help you, still means having to wait three days and then use rep points to “hire” him.
All these small things don’t really translate into interesting mechanics to keep the player involved. Once you have upgraded your machines enough to not run out of pills (apparently prisoners would rather die than wait around for their medication), it’s just a matter of waiting out each day, offing three or four prisoners and working on them by night. Executions are the key to getting your live prisoners to torture, but it’s just a matter of remembering a few steps every two days. Really, it’s the overall routine that will get to you.
Queueing actions for each character works fine, but at the moment there is no way to cancel them, which makes for some quite frustrating moments. Still, Troglobytes promised that this would be possible soon. What I find hard to explain is why there is one single music track which plays all the way, each day. It all adds up to the tedium and boredom of your daily routine. I’m not sure that “routine that kills you” is what they were going for, but personally, I was more terrified by that than the thought of having a pear stuck up my bumhole.
While the loop works fine enough and wanting to see what’s next in the story keeps things alive, I believe most people will probably get bored before the game gets to the end. There is no real “difficulty progression” here, as you can easily keep things in check. Consider you have to examine a hundred dead bodies and get through 25 executions before the end, which means getting at least to day 50. That’s a lot of days. Graphically, the game runs fine, but it doesn’t look particularly spectacular. Audio is definitely on the weak side, with the one music track on a loop and missing much-needed voiceovers in the cutscenes.
The Kindeman Remedy seems an interesting blueprint for a future game which expands on its mechanics. For example, you could have different kinds of drips or pills, juggle more duties, or have more to do during the night. As it is, as much as what it offers can be entertaining, it feels like it is missing something to grab a hold of most gamers beyond its original premise. This is one only for fans of prisons, both in the mental and physical sense.
Our the Kindeman Remedy review was made possible with a key provided by the developers. The Kindeman Remedy is available on Steam, PlayStation 5, Nintendo Switch and Xbox Series X|S.
The Kindeman Remedy: While its gruesome subject matter might interest, the management game feels like it might need some more meat on its bones to keep players' hooked. – Damiano Gerli