Merchants of Kaidan – Review (Nintendo Switch)

Developer: Forever Entertainment SA

Publisher: Forever Entertainment SA

Price: £8.99 // $9.99

Nintendo Switch eShop page

Merchants of Kaidan is a charming strategy trading game that requires you to use your best trading skills to make the most profit. Sounds simple enough, but as you travel across the length and breadth of Kaidan there are many factors at play that add a surprising amount of layers to the game. Merchants of Kaidan is easy to play, once you’ve mastered the basics, but hard to master.

From Humble Beginnings to Powerful Nobleman

When starting a new game there are four game scenarios you can choose to play through. The main campaign sees you taking the role of Ollivean De Calinn, the son of a successful merchant who was brutally betrayed by his business partner, Van Talodd. Talodd framed his father who was found guilty of being a traitor and subsequently hanged. Conveniently Talodd took over the rest of the business and left you with nothing but the family ring that you had on your person.

There are many places to visit in Kaidan. It’s best to plan your journeys as travel times vary between locations and there are toll bridges that can eat into your profits.

Your story starts as you take on a fake name to hide your true identity and sell your family ring to pay for your first horse drawn cart to follow in your father’s footsteps as a merchant. The aim of the campaign is to rise up the ranks and eventually avenge your father’s death at the hands of Van Talood.

As I will talk more on later, this campaign is very long and full on. The other three scenarios are shorter and a lot quicker to play through if you wanted a quicker conclusion to your gameplay. These include a set time limit of one or five years in game time, or achieving a final fortune of 1000000 coins. These options are great to have and offer greater flexibility in how you what to play the game.

To rise up the ranks in the merchant’s guild you have to complete specific tasks.

Buy Low, Sell High – Easier Said Than Done

Set in a fictitious fantasy world in the year 1220, you will spend most of your time travelling to the many different towns, cities and remote villages in search for cheap stock to buy and subsequently sell at a tidy profit.

The map view of Kaidan that you are presented with might seem overwhelming at the beginning of the game. Initially, I didn’t think anything of it but then I realised that this wasn’t the true size of the world and there were even more locations on the map. The key to success is sourcing stock at a low price and then taking it to another location where those goods are in demand and sell at the most profit. For example, one of the best places to buy hides would be from a farm that specialises in animal husbandry. Fill up your cart with as much as you can and then transport them to one of the nearby cities where you can sell them.

The challenge is discovering where on the map is the best places to buy and sell your goods. If you keep going backwards and forwards trading between the same locations you run the risk of highway men ambushing your cart and stealing your possessions. Furthermore if you keep supplying the same goods to the same locations, eventually the demand for that item will diminish and the prices will drop, much like the real life supply chain. Other factors that affect market prices include the seasons and unforeseen random events such as natural disasters. All these elements make the game a challenge to master.

Buy low, sell high. The trade screen indicates the average price paid for your stock so it’s clear if you’d be making a profit or loss.

A World Filled With Diverse Characters

The world of Kaidan is inhabited by a vast array of NPCS that you encounter on your travels. Some characters ask you to complete tasks for a generous reward for your troubles. Completing these tasks are a good way of earning money early on in the game when you’re still finding your feet as a trader.

As your profits grow you will have the extra funds to hire up to six specialists for a variety of different roles. These include regional traders who can help negotiate better prices in the region they originate from, magic users who can use magic to your advantage if you are attacked and monks that can operate distilleries on your behalf. There are many more specialists that are available to hire and they are dotted around the many taverns around the world. You can also hire mercenaries (different to specialists) to protect your transportation, the roads can be a dangerous place when you’re transporting expensive goods.

Specialists can help you in many areas but are costly to hire.

Perseverance Is the Key

Merchants of Kaidan has a lot of elements that help keep the game interesting. As I played more and more I was surprised with all the different things I could do. For example one area of gameplay I haven’t spoken about yet is mine exploration. There are abandoned mines that you can explore and make safe if you have enough mercenaries at your disposal. Then you can hire foreman to run the mine to provide another source of income.

I’m sure there are other things I either haven’t discovered yet or I have yet to unlock because I haven’t reached a high enough level yet. It’s not an easy task to level up (for me at least) and it would take me multiple attempts to climb the ranks at the merchants guild. There were times where I felt like I was putting in a lot of hard work but then had very little to show for it.

You can play mini games in the taverns to raise some extra money. Who doesn’t like potentially losing their fingers?

There is a lot to learn but after some trial and error, and perseverance, you should eventually get the hang of it. I say “should” because I’m still trying to get past the bit I’m stuck on. If you’re not a fan of strategy trading games then obviously this isn’t going to be a game you will enjoy. If you do enjoy this genre I would definitely recommend you give Merchants of Kaidan a play. There are a lot of things to do and the game is challenging enough for it to be no walk in the park but still an enjoyable experience. I might be a rubbish trader, but I still come back for more and find it addictive to play.

One area that I felt could be improved is the controls. Although the touch screen works great in handheld mode, it can be a bit long-winded at times when you have to use the analogue stick to move the cursor from one side of the screen to the other. Holding down ZL speeds up the cursor movement but it would be nice if the cursor automatically jumped to different buttons by pressing L or R for example. It can also be difficult to scroll text as you have to move the cursor to the scroll bar, then have to click the arrows to scroll up or down. It just seems a bit outdated especially as most games would use the right analogue stick to scroll text instead.

Check out the trailer below:

This game was provided by Forever Entertainment SA for the purpose of this review.