Title: The Kids We Were
Release Date: January 12, 2022
Reviewed On: PC
Genre: Indie Narrative Adventure
As much as I love action-packed video games, there are times a break is necessary. Simple puzzle games and wholesome narrative adventures are my favorite when I’m trying to relax from other high-intensity genres, which led me to be interested in this strange adventure title, The Kids We Were.
The Kids We Were is an adorable example of a low-stress, narrative adventure. Originally released as a mobile phone app, the game’s graphics are similar to 3D Dot Heroes and provide some beautifully immersive environments to explore.
The pixelated levels have this creative presentation of a real-world, Japanese town recreated out of Legos. The sky and lighting seamlessly blend to create a unique setting for each interaction to take place, and it’s full of charm. The Kids We Were appears to be a slice-of-life coming-of-age story upon starting the adventure. However, an ordinary day turns extraordinary in a matter of moments.
This emotional tale opens as Minato and his sister Mirai join their mother on a train ride to a memorial service. However, Minato and his sister have other plans. They have a secret mission to find their father. Their parents had a nasty divorce, and they haven’t seen their father in a long time.
After their mother departs for the service, the two young siblings begin their adventure. But, unfortunately, this is where the slice-of-life ends, and the enigma begins. The siblings slowly unravel a monstrous puzzle surrounding their dad’s disappearance and a notebook describing the Seven Mysteries of Kagami, involving time travel, curses, and even yokai. Even more interesting is Minato Comes upon a spaceship and a message from himself in the future.
The adventure is exceptionally narrative-heavy. Speaking to everyone in the town is necessary to receive all the information needed to progress. However, exploration comes into play as you meet with friends to discover the secrets of a notebook scattered throughout the town.
Kagami consists of several streets and numerous places to visit, like a shrine, schoolyard, and bathhouse. Although you are contained to just a few streets, new angles, time of day, and even alternate versions of the locations lead to each area feeling fresh every time you visit. There are over 90 collectibles hidden throughout each area, which are relics of modern and retro Japanese culture. You can also collect Yen coins that allow you to use gacha capsule machines to help you finish collecting all of the relics. These were fun and easy to find and broke up the narration making exploring the town exciting.
The game’s length is appropriate; spanning 16 chapters took around 8 hours to complete. Although the designs appear to have a childish charm, the mature themes make it more adult than I initially expected. While it might be worth mentioning, story scenes deal with illness, death, and abuse, but that doesn’t completely take away from some more playful interactions. In addition, the Steam version features 20 new achievements and a bonus epilogue that takes place after the main story.
The Kids We Were is an adorable adventure about family, friendship, and personal growth. The game sophisticatedly fuses the supernatural tales with real-world events where each chapter feels like an episode of an anime. It’s brief in some aspects, which highlights its minimalist presentation. And, sure, the story becomes almost insanely haphazard and heavy-handed through its science fiction-based narrative dumps, but it comes together nicely as a package.
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