Platform: Windows, OSX, Linux, iOS, Android
Tested on: Steam, Windows 7
Developer: Richard Perrin (Locked Door Puzzle)
Age rating: n/a, but due to scary music and difficult puzzles I’d say you should be at least 10 years old.
From the independent developers comes a game from Richard Perrin called Kairo. I honestly had no idea what to expect when I began the adventure except that Kairo sounds like it could be a reference to ancient Egypt. (“Cairo” is spelled “Kairo” in Finnish.) Later I learned from Perrin he had chosen the name from Japanese “meaning circuit or loop”. Nevertheless, before I got this information I was sure this game was inspired by ancient Egypt for its architecture and I’m still sticking to that theory despite what the designer says. 😉 (FYI: Author is an Egyptologist.)
Kairo is a puzzle game where the player tries to solve puzzles in each environment to move forward in the game. For example in one of the easier puzzles (I’m sure this won’t spoil anything, you would have solved it easily) a player enters a room with supposedly a waterfall. In the room there are nine plates with different designs on them. Once you step on them the same design is thrown on the wall. Your aim is to form a tree sign using the designs and once you are finished, a door will open on the wall letting you go forward in the game. If the puzzle is too hard you can always return back the way you came, all the way back to the main hall where you can find more doors to other puzzles.
The hints the game gives are very subtle and to work they quite often require you to have solved the previous room puzzles in the same group. And once you have solved all the puzzles in one group of rooms you return back to the main hall, which is decorated with new effects, like a waterfall, from solved puzzles.
The one thing that speaks against Kairo is the fact that if you are not the kind of a person to spend hours trying to solve a seemingly unsolvable crossword puzzle, you will most likely go crazy with this game. I have a quite low tolerance when I get stuck in a game, and at first I was ready to quit the game since its not like a Skyrim puzzle where the answer is literally hanging from the wall, as long as you care to look at it. With Kairo you have to explore, try things out, make leaps of logic and have revelations, and dedicate enough time to really delve into the game.
I must say that at first I was not impressed by Kairo’s design. The environments and rooms are huge and offer close to no details to look at. The graphics remind me of the early 90s 3D graphics at best with its crude textures and a world which consists mostly of blocks. For example the waterfall in that one room is literally a bunch of squares flowing down from the wall. Having said that, the game is still almost like a piece of art with its delicate design choices and the careful placement of all those cubes to create a dreamy environment, which the music causes to look a bit scary. At other times it looks like it was built in Minecraft. 😉
As for if this is a game for you, it’s entirely up to whether you like this sort of game. It’s an acquired taste, like Finnish salty liquorice. Some love it while others think you are crazy.
+ Supports game controller which make the game much easier to play
+ Graphics: artsy
– For those willing to put in the time. Not for impatient ones.
– Graphics: back to the 90s