App Reviewed on: iPad Pro
User Interface Rating:
Replay Value Rating:
Calling KIDS a game is like calling a hot dog a sandwich. Using a strict set of criteria, it may technically be true, but it feels wrong. Also like a hot dog, this isn’t to say that KIDS is somehow above its given category. It’s just… different. KIDS does one interactive trick really well, and sticks around just long enough for you to get your fill of it before ending. There’s something oddly fascinating about it, but I’m not sure KIDS is for everyone.
Games like KIDS have hit the App Store before. Things like ISLANDS: Non-Places or Vignettes come to mind, specifically. They're all of a kind that feel more like collections of interactive scenes rather than games with puzzles or levels or stories to uncover.
In the case of KIDS, these scenes feature cartoon outlines of children presented in a stark black and white world. In each scene, there's a way to interact with these kids, which usually just involves tapping on them.
KIDS operates off of this very simple concept, but that seems to be exactly what the game is going for. What's more important here is the way the game moves and reacts to your actions, as well as the things that these children do.
There are scenes where countless children dive headfirst down a hole, or swim through a vast, dark void. There's also times where the children run through crowds or create a wave of claps. Each of these things aren't particularly complicated, but there's something about the way the game animates all of them that makes them entrancing. Everything moves with an almost unnerving smoothness. This, along with the bizarre sequence of scenes in the game, act as the one-two punch that KIDS banks on to compel you through it.
They grow up so quickly
KIDS is kind of weird and wonderful, but it's also a bit of a flash in the pan. This is to say it's a very short game and it ends just when it feels like it's getting started. You can easily finish it in one sitting.
That might not be such a bad thing, as KIDS trades in such a simple trick. When I finished it though, I was a little disappointed that there wasn't more to it, or at least that there wasn't some sort of overarching narrative or theme it gestures toward with any sort of clarity. It just felt like an experiment–a neat one, to be fair–but still just a simple proof of concept.
The bottom line
What little there is to “play” of KIDS is certainly unlike anything else I've ever experienced. I just wish there was more to it? Or, maybe I missed the point? In either case, KIDS seems like it would be of little appeal to most folks, except those that can appreciate the avant garde.