One of the most strange and cruel survival sandboxes I’ve played has sold 2.3 million copies

Kenshi is one of the most utterly strange games I’ve ever had the pleasure of playing, and it holds a special place in my heart. It was the impetus behind one of my first-ever published pieces of games writing, which means you can probably blame it—at least in part—for the fact you have to keep reading my yammering on this very website. Thank you, Kenshi, we’ll never forgive you.

But Kenshi is strange because it is hostile. Its world does not want you in it, and its systems have many, many layers that can be difficult to get a firm grasp on. It’s not the kind of thing I’d put down as a surefire hit. Shows what I know: The devs just announced it’s sold 2.3 million copies on Steam alone since it hit in 2018, over double the million copies it had sold back in 2020 (I know, I’m a maths whizz).

That’s a lot of people who have signed up for an unforgiving series of trials in an open-ended sandbox with no real story but the one your actions generate. In my experience, that story usually ends with bandits breaking your legs and abducting you, which is apparently just the ticket for 2.3 million other people besides me. Who’d have thought it?

That’s not the only number the devs at Lo-Fi have to brag about. In addition to the sales, Kenshi continues to pull in 39,000 average daily survivors, and 10% of players have racked up over 500 hours of game time. I’ve not even managed that myself; the only game I have 500+ hours in is Crusader Kings 2, which is kind of similar in that it’s a big systemic sandbox that invariably ends in tragedy. Kenshi’s also sitting pretty at a 95% “Overwhelmingly Positive” Steam review score with almost 70,000 reviews. Though of course, the number it should be most proud of is the 84% it earned in our Kenshi review.

Lo-Fi isn’t just touting these numbers on an ego trip, it’s to mark Kenshi’s arrival on the Epic Games Store, from which it had been absent up to now. And, you know, sure. There’s probably somebody out there who was waiting for that. Takes all sorts to make a world.

I admit, I knew Kenshi was popular, strangely popular for a game so unrelentingly itself, but I was surprised (and glad) to hear that its sales stretched up into the multiple millions. Congratulations, gamers, we’ve all got better taste than I realised. Let’s all pat ourselves on the back. 

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