Kairo is one of those curious little indie games you come across every so often that leaves you in a state of quiet yet satisfied contemplation. It has the elements of a traditional adventure-puzzle game, yet there is something thoroughly metaphysical about its world and the experiences you have in it. The game plays through 1st person view, so you never know exactly who or what you are in the world around you. You set to exploring a series of strange buildings, all of which have a variety of puzzles and secrets to find and solve. Some of the puzzles are genuinely tricky, and it took me at least 3 or 4 play throughs to find all the secrets.
You find yourself eerily alone in this world, questioning what the strange buildings and machines you encounter are, and who built them. I was constantly changing my idea of who I was and what I was doing as I journeyed through Kairo. At first I felt like a lone explorer searching through the ruins of an extinct civilization, then I thought I might be the sole survivor of some kind of catastrophe, and it even crossed my mind that I might be dead-a spirit of some kind trying to seek redemption for my actions in life or for those of my people. This was one of the joys of Kairo for me-you might not be entirely sure what your journey is for, but you feel compelled to continue on with it regardless.
I have to give special mention to the sound and music, which is just beautiful. The music, or often lack of it, perfectly complements the environments you explore and has such an impact on your mood and that of the game. If I have any issues with the game it's probably restricted to the controls, which can be a bit clumsy at times.
At the end of my first play through I found myself close to crying, but not entirely sure why, and on subsequent plays I was moved to tears. It's a strangely affecting experience and by then end of it you feel as though you've succeeded in what it was you set out to accomplish in the first place. But it's not the kind of feeling you get with other games when you take out the final boss, become a hero, get all the loot etc. Kairo feels like something entirely more fundamental than that, it speaks to something basic about our humanity that even after half a dozen play throughs is still difficult to put into words.