Mystifying: Kairo Is Out Now

Kairo’s alpha impressed John last year and Nathan enjoyed his wander around the recently released demo, but I can’t tell you whether the full game lives up to the promise of those early portions because I haven’t played it yet. I shall remedy that soon as the first-person adventure is out now and I have a definite hankering to explore its strange spaces, and the skeletons of machinery and mystery within. It’s $8 and is available for Windows and OSX, with a Linux release due later this year. We’ve shared the most recent trailer before but here it is again, because moving images are fine entertainment for the eyes.

A ruin is the ghost of a city, which is in turn the palimpsest of a culture. Discuss.


  1. MythArcana says:

    So, Unitycraft then basically. I noticed the particle beam at 1:00 which is from one of the tutorial examples. *giggles* Cool stuff, but I’d like to see a little more than random prefabs instantiating on a map with a quick departure from the Unity demo content.

    • Alien426 says:

      Of course, not everyone is so kind, especially on the internet. ”The only thing that rubs me the wrong way is getting called ‘lazy’ in the occasional comments thread,” he admits. ”I can see why people might think that from the screenshots of the game. It’s easy to assume the abstract design is covering for a lack of skill.

      ”The truth is there’s not a single room in the game that I’ve not spent weeks on the design and lighting to get it exactly how I wanted it to look. There’s this internet credo that you’re not supposed to get mad by things people say online, but when you’ve worked on something for two and half years it’s difficult not to be a bit defensive.” / Gamasutra

      • pelham.tovey says:

        I’m amazed that Perrin has managed to create something in a primitive style without expecting that it would inevitably be criticised as much for what it lacks as what it contains. Kind of disappointing to see him wussing out and defending his work in that interview.

    • AlwaysRight says:

      You get this same argument in electronic music production. Is it a lazy track/song if it uses soft synth presets?
      The answer in short;
      “it depends how you use it.”
      In general I would say its not lazy as long as its a well produced, innovative, enjoyable track. On the other hand I am sick of hearing Brostep constantly using cookie cutter NI massive* patches.

      *popular software synth

      • SelfEsteemFund says:

        While I agree with you I do wish you wouldn’t use the b-word around here as I find it very offensive & ultimately soul destroying.

        OT- I absolutely love firstperson exploration/adventure/puzzle/abstract games so this is right up my alley, cheers for the heads up.

        • AlwaysRight says:

          Apologies, It just happens to be the most succinct and derogatory way of refering to that “music” and it sure as hell isn’t dubstep.

          link to

          …anyway… GAMES!

          OT -This looks right up my alley too, I hope it is as engrossing as it looks. Also I haven’t heard much news about The Witness lately, can’t wait for that one.

          • SelfEsteemFund says:

            Right as always. Thanks for the link, found it really interesting while also very sad seeing some of my early favourite producers (distance,cyrus) not feeling that chirpy. If you’ve got a soundcloud/bandcamp that you don’t mind posting I’d happily give it a whirl btw, no worries if not.

            Jon updates the site a couple of times a month with progress although it is mostly technical, regardless it’s looking great link to

          • jamsxn656 says:

            Still, have a look at something like Fract for this kind of game done well…

    • crinkles esq. says:

      Yes, it does look like level design circa 1999, the kind of level you might download for Unreal Tournament. Not a top notch one mind you. Perhaps the game itself is brilliant, but the architecture and game engine are not.

  2. MOKKA says:

    Everybody who has a remote interest in Puzzlegames should pick this one up. It might take a while to get used to the fact that the game does nothing to explain itself to you (it does not even have a proper starting screen or main menu), but once you get a grasp of it ,it really starts to get interesting.
    It also has some very interesting and abstract enviroments and from a purely aesthetics standpoint it’s among the visually most impressing games I’ve played so far in this year.

    • Risingson says:

      Thank you. I was wondering how few people talked about the puzzles, as this is sold as an adventure game. Well, a “board puzzle solver” kind of adventure game.

  3. Josh W says:

    Or perhaps the ruin is the bones of a city, and it’s diaspora it’s ghost?

    But then it is the mark of culture as well as nature, as before the ruin withstood the slow grinding of the winds, it stood in the swirl of people and survived. Both have carved their expressions in it.

    But anyway, yeah, looks a very nicely imagined game. Balancing on that line between mystery and the legibility required for environmental puzzles should be interesting. I’ll have a look at the demo.

    Edit: Also, does it remind anyone else of journey?

  4. Shadrach says:

    Looks like something out of the demoscene I think. I like the demoscene.

  5. maicus says:

    I played the alpha yonks ago when I pre-ordered it, and I was disappointed by the fact that it was a puzzle game, instead of simply being an ambient exploration game. I’ll give it another go, but I’ve got to ask – what made you more excited by this game? The 9-square puzzles or the rad aesthetic style? It would’ve been braver to ditch them.

  6. Stackler says:

    Is it a trend now in the indie scene to produce highly abstracted games with highly vague coherence and story and call it “art”?

    • AlwaysRight says:

      I just ran a ctrl-f ‘find’on this page and you’re the only person who mentions “art”.

      It does however seem to be a trend that when a game like this comes out people start bashing it for no good reason, they usually misuse the word pretentious and hipster alot too.

    • Acorino says:


    • Saldek says:

      Fortunately, it isn’t.

  7. Cooper says:

    Very unimpressed by the demo, despite pleasing rumblings about it here and elsewhere.

    Firstly there’s not much “exploration” (depiste that being used to describe it). The demo, at least, is very linear. This is not to say it doesn’t have interesting places to be in. The environments are definitely its draw. but you won;t be able to wander about them at your own whim; there are clear paths through each location, and leaving those paths is usually a plummet to a checkpoint re-set.

    Which leads to my second major gripe about the demo.

    If you do go exploring, falling off the map will often re-spawn you at poorly chosen places.

    On one location, with floating platforms, I jumped over to a seperate set of platforms. It was kinda clear they wouldn’t go anywhere but I wanted to, you know, explore. There were also cubes moving up and down. I thought maybe I could jump on them and go somehwre (spolier: you just fall through them)

    Anyway, after going over to these platforms I fell off. It placed me back on them. Fine. Except I didn;t realise it was a one-way jump. No way back to the path without exiting and restaerting the game.

    Falling off another platform resulted in an endless loop where I was spawned and then fell back down again.

    Bar poor level designt he puzzles were pleasing enough.

    Still, have a look at something like Fract for this kind of game done well…

    • Meat Circus says:

      I was playing this a bit last night, and I really enjoyed it.

      It’s abstracted and slightly creepy explorey-puzzling through disorientingly disconnected environments reminds me a *lot* of the sense of wonder I would get watching something like Knightmare as a kid. And that, of course, is no bad thing.

      It’s a little obtuse, but it rubs a certain part of my brain in a certain way that it just works for me.

  8. DarkNightRJ says:

    It should probably be mentioned in the article this game has a greenlight. Though I guess if you go to the site you’d already know that.

  9. Tunips says:

    At the end of the trailer, flying out through the rings, they are SLIGHTLY OFF CENTRE. I am upset now.

    • Shadowcat says:

      I was upset that they did not form the dot above the ‘i’ in the game’s title, but instead just overlapped the font somewhat, before fading away.

  10. sinister agent says:

    I don’t know what a palimpsest is. But I do love olives. If it helps, I could discuss olives instead?

    • Shadowcat says:

      A ghost of a city is the palimpsest of a culture, which is turn is like a pitted olive without a pimento. Discuss.

  11. GoliathBro says:

    The demo was interesting enough, but I’m not sure if I’m willing to part with the asking price for it. Despite what the developer says, I too got the distinct impression that he’s gone the way he has because it’s all he could achieve, and not necessary because it’s what he really wanted to create.

    I’m much more amped for Antechamber. When the hell is that coming out.

  12. nemryn says:

    I love the lore, ambiance, and feeling of games like this, but actually playing them is no fun because I always get stuck, then either give up or ruin things with a walkthrough.

    • HomesickBob says:

      I’m stucked too… in the star-room and further i do not see the meaning of the puzzles nor the hints.
      I moved the ball into the stone- wheel and lifted it to the sphere and the pyramide and hit the the switches in the mid floor… and nothing happend, i waisted another two hours to miss the tyniest little clue; guess i’ll quit!