Kind Words – Game Review
While technology is great and opens plenty of opportunities, it is also a black spot on our souls. Suddenly we are bombarded with perfect images, images that we want to live up to but most of us simply can’t. Social media has done a number on our mental health, a topic that is still not quite in the open. More and more people find it harder to deal with things because we no longer live together. We can find like-minded people faster, but the deeply rooted connections that come from having those hearty conversations are retracting. Video game developers know this, isn’t that the same thing Kojima wants to tell us with Death Stranding? Popcannibal noticed the same thing, and the developer created a game called Kind Words to help spread positivity in our lives when we can’t find it.
Kind Words is not your average video game backed up with a storyline that helps you retreat into a fantasy world. Instead, it is a video game that is very down to earth. The stories that you read, the letters that you are opening, are from real people. They took the time to sit down and write a letter, about how their day went or how they are feeling. In return, others can reply to those letters. Everything is done anonymously, and the developer encourages players not to give out personal information.
While it may seem strange to open up to complete strangers, sometimes we just need someone to read our words and to reply kindly to those words. When our friends are not available, or when you simply don’t want to bother them, turning to a stranger can be relieving.
There is a visual aspect to the game, and that is the room you are sitting in. The character sitting on the bed, walking to the desk when you go online, can’t be customized. But that is quite alright, isn’t it because Kind Words is not a game that should be played for its visual aspect. The room is a simple square, with a bed, a bookshelf and a desk. The colours of said room are also kept neutral, with tints of brown and red. It’s a very calming combination of autumn colours.
Upon starting the game, you’ll be given a sticker. When you reply to requests, you can include a sticker to your reply. Additionally, after having received a reply, you can let the anonymous person know you appreciate their words by gifting them a sticker. It sounds very kindergarten-like behaviour, but these stickers do have meaning in the game itself and that is customization. Each sticker comes with a 3D object that can be displayed in your room, allowing you to customize the room the way you would like to. Of course, there are only a handful of stickers, so the customization options are still limited, but it is a nice touch.
Kind words is advertised with “lo-fi chill beats to write to”, and that is the best way to describe the soundtrack. The songs can be changed by using the little radio, but each of the songs are chill beats created by Clark Aboud.
There are a few things you can do in the game. The first option is to view requests from other people. These are short snippets which you can reply to, and these change every day as the game removes requests after a while. If you reply to a request, that request will be removed so you can easily move onto the next one. The second option is to make your own request. The third option is to say nice things. These positive notes will fly into every room in the form of paper aeroplanes that you can click on and read the messages. Your inbox is the history of your requests and the replies you’ve been given. On a rainy day, you can always go back to these messages or you can write a new request. Lastly, you can decorate your room with the stickers we’ve mentioned before.
Focusing on the kindness of people, Kind Words relies on understanding. And that is that bullying is not done or appreciated. These acts will be reported, and proper action will be taken against them. It feels odd to say you play this game, as it is much more than that. You are dealing with real people, with real feelings, and I have to say that I have yet to come across a mean person. It really is liberating to know that your requests are being read and to read the replies. At the same time, the requests can be heartfelt and replying to those in kindness will help you feel good about yourself. You may have made someone’s terrible day just a little bit brighter.
In the midst of the turmoil that technology creates, Kind Words is a gift. It can’t be considered an actual game although it is categorized as one. In all honesty, it is a game that you never thought you needed until you played it. Supporting strangers by making their day a little brighter, or being given support by strangers, is a wonderful feeling. One that I certainly hope will last for a long time.