Kairo, not sure how I found this game to be honest. I think I found it while looking around on Steam and figured why not?
Enter the lost world of Kairo. Explore vast abandoned monuments. Bring strange and ancient machinery back to life. Slowly uncover the true purpose of Kairo and fulfill a great destiny. – official game description
Before I go any further into the game, I am going to say this now that even though I finished the game, found all the hidden rooms and secret room + secret ending…I actually still got no idea what the story of the game was. Never figured what my ‘great destiny’ was or anything. So unless I missed something or just wasn’t really paying attention, I am very lost and stuck on the questions of what Kairo really was and what was your destiny?
First thing you will notice in the game is how striking the world looks. Very empty yet so vast. Each room is unique. Some will have puzzles for you to solve, others will just serve as a transition point between rooms. There is often certain areas serving as a hub unique to one particular section of Kairo.
Another confession, when I began playing this game I was actually given the impression I was playing a horror game. Why? The music was just so haunting and combine it with the surreal, minimalist abstract approach and the grain effect…just gave me the idea I was playing a horror game. It took a while to realize nothing was going to happen to me and that it was solely a puzzle-exploration game. Although certain rooms in Kairo certainly takes a turn for the creepy/macabre.
If you are successful in solving the ‘secret’ puzzles, a starry pillar will appear which you can enter. These often show snippets of what appears to be a desolated Earth. You cannot move or exit once you enter the rooms, it will automatically return you to the previous room once your vision ‘fades to black’. So these leads me to the idea that Kairo takes place in the future possibly, although the simple shapes that Kairo uses gives the ruins a very alien feel.
This is going to be a game that may turn some people away due to lack of story or puzzles that are not difficult to solve. In fact you probably will be having a harder time finding the hidden runes, and locating the secret rooms to break the monoliths required to find the secret room, to get the last achievement unlocked when you watch the secret (and hilarious) ending. Unless you were like me, where you get stuck in one room trying to solve a “one wrong step on this bridge and you die” puzzle cause you didn’t see the solution painted on a pillar behind you till about…10 minutes later?
Actually it took me longer than 10 minutes cause I never even saw the infernal pillar till I was leaving the room after getting the next partial piece.
There is a hint system for those who get really stuck on the game. Based on the game’s design, I do not think that the focus of the game is the puzzles. Rather it is focused on allowing players to explore this surreal world and try to make sense of it. Apparently the word ‘Kario’ means circuit in Japanese. It makes sense since once you successfully solve all the puzzles in one section, the hub area for that section becomes ‘powered’ up which allows you to go to the next area. Thus the circuit becomes complete.
So this game is more geared towards players who prefer to take the time to explore and appreciate the surrealism and minimalist abstract world of Kario. Although this game could be considered an adventure game, it is really feels more of a casual exploration game that has puzzle elements. Granted it is not going to be everyone’s cup of tea (or coffee), I can’t help but feel like they will miss something for not trying this game. I really did enjoy seeing the game’s world although I still got no clue on the destiny thing. Perhaps the game is serving as a metaphor and I just missed the point.