KIDS Review

A crowd? A hole? Crowd goes in hole. Swim in stars, make a wave, gang up on someone. KIDS is the spiritual successor to the award-winning PLUG & PLAY by Mario von Rickenbach and Michael Frei. Featuring a number of short scenes to interact with in black and white.

Format: PC via Steam
First playthrough time: 20 minutes

KIDS. Figures gathering around and falling into a black hole

Released May 28th, 2019 by Playables, Mario von Rickenbach, Michael Frei | Double Fine Presents

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Quick Overview

Major Pros:
  • Quick simple scenes
Major Cons:
  • Very short
Minor Pros:
  • Easy controls
  • Open-ended art
Minor Cons:
  • “They’re in an intestine, aren’t they?”
KIDS. Scene selector

Scene selector is available after completion

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In-depth Review

KIDS is a short experimental game about crowds. The game features a number of black and white scenes in which players can interact with humanoid figures using the mouse or touch. Some scenes have a single-figure the player controls while in others the player can interact with large swaths of a crowd. I enjoyed the quick nature of the scenes. Most of them take only a couple of seconds to reach the end of, moving either with or against the crowd.

KIDS. One figure swimming against others

Against the crowd

In a similar vein to its predecessor PLUG & PLAY, KIDS is an incredibly short game taking less than 30 minutes. However, it makes up for this with its diverse array of “levels” and the visual and auditory pleasure of a crowd moving in unison. In particular, I liked the visuals of figures clapping in waves or the sound of many feet running together.

KIDS. Many figures with those on the right clapping

A still image does not do this justice

Some players will be put off by the open-ended artistic expression of the game. In fact, it wouldn’t be that far off to call it more of an experience than a game. I, however, like a game that can appeal to more simplistic sensations. Certainly, in scenes where there are figures acting against each other, it’s rather introspective to see how the player reacts to the limited actions of the figures on the otherwise blank canvas. If one figure is forceful with another, does the player find themselves disliking them? Curious? Amused? Why?

KIDS. Three figures pointed at one and saying yes

What does your psyche see?

There were a few scenes in which figures appeared to pass through intestine-like tunnels. Despite the simplicity of it, it made me that slight bit uncomfortable. Perhaps a comment on my own psyche, but a forewarning to others with similar aversions.

KIDS. Figures in intestine-like tunnels joining together into one tunnel

Squishy sounds enhance these scenes

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Recommendation

Overall, I liked the short experience of KIDS. It’s highly similar to Mario von Rickenbach and Michael Frei’s first collaboration PLUG & PLAY which I also enjoyed. I recommend KIDS for players looking for a quick fun experience, particularly if they enjoyed the predecessor.

What other short artistic games have you enjoyed?
Let me know in the comments below!

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