As a father to a child with asthma, I’ve been in lockdown a little bit longer than the rest of the UK, minimising all contact with the outside world. Fortunately, I’ve been able to fill my days with work (remote working frustrations aside), family time and some video games.
Having finally finished Horizon Zero Dawn on the PC thanks to PS Now, I’ve found the perfect game to make me feel more connected to the outside world: Kind Words.
Kind Words is a tough game to sell to the average gamer. I’m not sure I’d even call it a game. People anonymously share their worries and thoughts with the world and you can anonymously write supportive responses to these real strangers while listening to chill, lo-fi music. That’s it – there are no enemies, no boss battles, no story arc. It’s just you, your virtual bedroom, and the opportunity to anonymously connect with and support other people.
Oh, and a deer delivers your mail. That’s pretty cool.
I loved Kind Words when I first played it, but moved onto other things as time went on. Then, with the void of Horizon Zero Dawn, I scanned my Steam library and felt lost. I didn’t have the energy to invest myself in a story. I didn’t want to collect resources or compete against other players. I just wanted to decompress but connect with other people.
Kind Words was exactly what I needed.
More so now than ever, it’s important to feel connected to other people, but not everyone feels comfortable connecting with the worlds themselves. We’ve all been in situations where we don’t want to share our thoughts with the people we know. Kind Words provides the opportunity to share your worries with an anonymous community.
The Kind Words community isn’t a vile cesspit of trolls looking to capitalise on the honesty of those opening up to others. From my experience, they are without exception the warmest, most encouraging community of gamers I’ve ever met. There is a report button if needed, just to be safe.
I poured over 4 hours into Kind Words last night alone. There was no artificial pressure, tension or objectives. I sent words of encouragement to strangers going through break-ups, money troubles, exam pressures, bankruptcy, and self-identity issues. I even sent a few letters of my own and received caring responses that helped me to move past the thoughts that were holding me back.
In addition to sharing fears or giving advice, players can also share stickers. Everyone begins the game with a random sticker, of which they have an infinite number. You can send those stickers to the people you’re responding to, or to say thank you to those who respond to your thoughts. These stickers all come with a corresponding item that you can pop on your bed, shelf or desk, adding a bit more character to your bedroom. It’s the only progression mechanic in the game and while it doesn’t feel forced, it does feel good when you’ve got them all. It’s a nice little touch.
If you don’t feel like sharing your concerns or advising others, you can relax in your cosy bedroom and send a paper airplane message instead. Paper airplanes are one-way positive messages and statements that you want to share with the community as a whole. They randomly fly past intermittently, and players can choose whether to click on them and read them or not. They tend to be more general “good luck” and “you’re awesome” messages, but that’s not a bad thing. It’s nice to see so much positivity being shared.
An interesting design decision in Kind Words is the inability to continue the conversation with those sharing their thoughts after your single response. Someone shares their thoughts and another person responds, but there is no way for either party to type any additional messages to each other. It would be nice to forge friendships with some of the people you feel an affinity with. On the plus side, this decision by the developers helps to keep things anonymous and strengthens the relationship with the community, rather than with individuals.
If you’re looking for something a little bit different to ‘play’ while on lockdown, definitely try Kind Words. For just $4.99/£3.99, it will restore your faith in others and make you feel more connected to fellow gamers. It’s a truly unique experience.