Kind Words – An online experience perfect for these strange times

Here at PC Guide, we don’t set out to review every game release. There are plenty of other sites dedicated to doing that that will give them the full coverage they deserve.

Every now and then though we will look at games if they are newsworthy or unusual and that’s what we are going to do today.

Everybody is aware that we are unprecedented times. None of us has ever been through the likes of what is going on in the world today, and as we are forced into lockdowns and unable to go out we are going to need things to keep us occupied, and also destress us.

Human beings are social and aren’t supposed to be cooped up, but needs must, and in this current climate, we all need to stay indoors. That in itself will undoubtedly lead to mental pressures for a lot of people, so anything that can help is undoubtedly worth a look at.

Kind Words (chill lo-fi beats to write to) actually came out at the tail-end of 2019 but has been garnering attention in recent weeks as a means to just relax and pass a bit of time.

It is without a doubt, something the likes of which you have never played before – in fact, you could probably argue it isn’t a game in the traditional sense at all.

Now, this description of it is going to sound weird, but bear with me. Kind Words links you with other real people on the internet (hmm, we all know how that usually ends!) but with the premise of being nice to each other.

Other people (or you if you feel so inclined) can write short, seven-line messages describing something that they are worried about and press send. This this shoots out into the Kind Word universe where other players can read these notes and answer them with words of kindness and encouragement. Within a few minutes, the gloriously cute Mail Dear will pop up through the window of your little house and deliver people’s words of wisdom directly to you.

Now if this sounds like a horror show-style breeding ground for internet trolls, you couldn’t be more wrong. In the hours I’ve spent with the game, I haven’t seen a single piece of negativity, and there are some good reasons for this.

Everything is totally anonymous and locked within the Kind Words universe, so there is none of the usual gratification for trolls. They can’t see any effect for their nastiness, they can’t get a reaction, nobody sees their nonsense and perhaps finally, the game costs $3.99, and these people don’t generally pay to abuse people.

That’s not to say it’s not possible, just I’ve not witnessed anything but niceness.

Upon starting up, after going through a brief tutorial, you will get the chance to read the current notes from people – there’s generally about eight or so to go through and you can pick and answer any that you think you might be able to help out with, or you can send your own note out there for people to help with. This could be a problem you face, something you are anxious about, pretty much everything.

At the time of writing, the vast majority of stresses on there are around coronavirus and people asking for advice about isolating and feeling alone. Reaching out with some kind words to a complete stranger here is remarkably exhilarating.

I’ve tried to spend at least 15/20 minutes a day lately spreading a bit of positivity to complete strangers feeling down, and it does make you feel remarkably good about yourself as well.

On the occasion where I posted my own worry, it wasn’t long before I received a raft of positive advice and kind words for total strangers, and that gives you a really warm feeling. People are actually taking time out for today’s horrors to help other people. Maybe we aren’t that bad after all!

Besides the option or writing and reading people’s notes, you can also send random pieces of positively to the whole network – these fly over your house in the form of paper aeroplanes that you can click on and read. Again there tend to be really lovely words in these.

You can also thank people who reply to you by sending them stickers that they can turn into decorations for their house, which brings us onto the quite frankly lovely art style of the game.

There is only really one cute screen of you in your house. You often interact with the Mail Deer when you are writing and can decorate with your aforementioned stickers. You aren’t going to need a monster rig to spread your positivity.

In conclusion, I’ve never seen anything like this, and from the overwhelmingly positive reviews on Steam, nor has anybody else. It sounds like it could be a disaster but seems to have hit the mark and beat the trolls, providing a rare haven of positively online.

You might not feel it’s for you, writing panics and worries to complete strangers, but once you get past the first few minutes, it’s remarkably invigorating. You won’t be able to help everybody, but, now more than ever, we just need to send kind words to the rest of our species.

DeveloperPopcannibal

ComposerClark Aboud

PlatformsMicrosoft Windows, Linux, macOS, Macintosh operating systems

DesignersLuigi GuatieriZiba Scott

NominationsThe Game Awards – Games for Impact AwardBAFTA Games Award for Game Beyond Entertainment

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Been around consoles and computers since his parents bought him a Mattel Intellivision. Spent over a decade as editor of popular print-based video games and computer magazines, including a market-leading PlayStation title. Has written tech content for GamePro, Official Australian Playstation Magazine, PlayStation Pro, Amiga Action, Mega Action, ST Action, GQ, Loaded, and the Daily Mirror. Twitter: @iampaulmcnally

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