Kairo is a puzzler game with a deep story to it that is conveyed in a way without speech or reading. A story where by you explore the vast huge expanses in this strange lost world fixing these old relics of machinery. All hinting towards the under-story of the game.
Kairo is a fantastic indie game developed by Richard Perrin and has music by Bartosz Szturgieweicz (i’m glad i’m typing this and not saying that dudes name).
You start on a small bit of rock and are faced with what is essentially just a white blank background, a nothingness that stretches onward and onward, but not too far way is another structure that you make your way toward and so begins the puzzling story of Kairo. You have no name, no voice, no face and absolutely no knowledge of the goal at hand, which creates a deep intrigue and a need to continue playing to satisfy the curious thirst you develop as everything you do hints toward something, something big and something you just need to know. Its like Someone staring at you knowing everything you do, but you know nothing of them, you want to ask questions, you want to know whats happening, the only response you get is the sound of your footsteps echoing out so clearly into the vast, decaying and broken down world of Kairo.
Kairo has many things going for it in terms of a game, it has the mystery that pushes gamers, but it also has a certain playfulness about it, sure some puzzles you might get a little stuck on, but there is always an answer near at hand, to find the answer you merely need to explore the surroundings and you’ll get your answer. If you don’t want to you can always bash your head against a wall until you need the useful `hints` found in the pause menu, 3 little clues that should nudge you in the right direction. However as with any puzzle game whether it be portal, Q.U.B.E. you will undoubtedly hit the moment where everything clicks into place and you think “I’m an idiot!”.
What I do love (and there are many things) about Kairo though is the uneasiness it creates, you can never really feel like you’re alone, the fantastic soundtrack greats such a feeling of dread at times, combine this with sudden jumps when static-filled screens pop up sometimes with the ominous outline of a man in frame and the grainy visuals and to top it off the necessity to sometimes push on into the darkness when all you can see if the path 5ft in front of you all create the feeling that this is testing me, am I being watched, who else is here, when was the last person here, and am I truly alone?
Kairo is a beautiful world, not so much in what is there (which is incredibly beautiful too) but the minimalism of it all, what isn’t there plays into the beauty, much like the note that isn’t played in a song adds to groove. However I don’t want you to think Kairo is just full of rather large rusty machines, some big building and then nothing else. No it’s so much more, and it comes down to the mood created through the colour.
We all associate colours with emotions, red is angry, green is envious, blue is depressed. These are things we all have instilled into us at some point. And Kairo doesn’t use the colours for those reasons at all, I’m not envious of the temple above just there. The world is just coated in this colour scheme and its done beautifully well, it never felt over-bearing or right in your face. It felt right and in place if anything and it created a little excitement “whoo I was in a green room and now its purple what does it want me to do?”. It gave the rooms character, and when it came to vast expanses of colour it made you feel small, you’re playing in a world much bigger than you can explore, much bigger than you can comprehend and much bigger than you can simply just handle.
Feeling small can make you feel like you’re not making a difference, but when you feel like its you fixing this broken world, this lost world then it makes you feel empowered. You have dominion and its up to you to do the job and figure how it all fits together. Some of the designs are incredibly strange no doubt, however with some of them they are more astounding than confusing. One of the very early rooms you walk through is green and has an odd green fence all around it, but within the room are blocks arranged very strangely at first glance, however a better look around will reveal this odd green landscape is in fact a park. Its a wonderful moment of clarity and realisation that maybe everything you will see, will not be as it first appears.
As you traverse down many corridors of infinite colour and length. Each feeling uneasy and comfortable in their own ways, you will pick up on something that made me quite happy and even more powerful despite the small signifigance it actually gives. As you walk around you will find the world reacts to you, not as in you walk to point X and a sequence of actions will occur, not at all. Rather I was walking down a corridor and stopped as the world moved with me, when I did the world stopped to, I took a couple steps back only to find that my surroundings, as I did, retreated to their original origin. It may be small, but in a world possibly alone, it can give you a minor god complex.
One bit, that I won’t spoil, towards the end was when I had just finished a puzzle. I stepped out of the building I’d previous inhabited for that short period and in a world where I felt alone I had the greatest of surprises to find birds, just birds circling the building. It filled me with a sense that is common in Kairo which is just the tranquility of it. To see something, something not manufactured and broken, not old and decayed but alive was a great change of pace and spurred me on to the final moments of the game.
So Kairo is a fantastic, glorious indie game and deserving of many awards. Easily one of my favourite games of recent and nothing short of a 10/10 experience.
A little tip to anyone planning on playing (which i hope you do) when the hints say the room is for your fun… mostly. It is frustrating but you don’t need to worry about it. These are much harder puzzles to reveal a little more secrets of the world.
Thanks for reading 😉