When last we checked in on abstract, kind-of-Mysty walk ‘n’ gawk Kairo, it was supposed to be out before the end of the year. That year was 2011. It is now – according to my well-placed sources (I just moved my calendar; it looks incredible now) – no longer 2011. Fortunately, based on the demo I just played, it’s turning out to be quite an impressive piece of work, and the full game’s right around the corner. Specifically, it’s launching in October, but you can watch a new-ish trailer and try the demo right now. Heck, you could even do both at the same time if you really wanted. I’m not exactly sure why you would, but the option is available.
So, like I said, I enjoyed the demo a fair bit. It struck me as ethereal and often breathtaking, but without venturing into the realm of over-abstraction. On the whole, the puzzles I encountered eventually made sense – though I definitely had to bash my brain against a couple of them for a decent while. A pair did, however, require me to engage Kairo’s pause menu hint system, which outright gives you the solution on the third hint. I suppose I appreciate the (entirely optional) help, but that sort of thing should never feel like the only thing standing between me and a progress-halting wall. Thankfully, Kairo’s open structure also gave me the option of tackling another puzzle while waiting for a “eureka!” moment on one that had me stumped. So that was nice, at least.
By and large, though, puzzles seemed impressively intuitive in their own lateral-thinking-based way, and I appreciated the complete lack of hand-holding and tut-tutting. Exploration and thoughtful meditation were rewarded with sights and sounds that varied from awe-inspiring to downright frightening. I won’t spoil any for you, but here’s a hint: the television screens. Oh god, the television screens.
Kairo ventures into the wild on October 21. Pre-ordering now will get you into the beta – as is more and more frequently the way with these things. Obviously, though, I’d recommend giving the demo a go first. So go on, then. Do that.