The Kids We Were review. Visual Novel in disguise

The Kids We Were is a game that I would rather not be interested in, if not for the fact that the beginning of the year is always a dry premiere, but also because the creators deceived me with nice promises of a production strongly focused on narration and the fact that the original version of the game was intended for for smartphones has been awarded many times. Since they were so encouraging, and I had no other premiere on the horizon, well, I was tempted. And to be honest, I was expecting something different.

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I was expecting an adventure game, a bit with minimal Zelda elements, where I walk freely around the town, solve mysteries and collect items. A bit like Sherlock Holmes only indie. And I got a visual novel, in which walking is just an addition and a break between subsequent dialogues. At first, I was disappointed a lot, because the level of expectations was a bit higher. Later, however, the story told in The Kids We Were completely absorbed me.

The production of the Gagex studio is a game that develops slowly. While the beginning does not promise a very interesting plot, everything starts to change halfway and we get a successful production about time travel with a bittersweet message. As a teenage Minato, we will have to change the fate of a special town where every 33 years a comet allegedly fulfills wishes appears. In addition to improving historical events, Minato will have to prevent his father from falling ill with a serious illness which caused him to die in the present.

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To do this, the protagonist has to solve seven mysteries; peculiar urban legends, which we inherited in the notebook of our deceased father. Their solution is to help change the future, as the key characters will not die in the course of events that took place in this city in the past. It’s a very grateful concept and it works in the formula of a classic time travel story, except… This completely linear visual novella experience makes it not very revealing.

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There were great requests for The Kids We Were to be a non-linear game in which you can discover the secrets of the city on your own. Here, solving them is a purely fictional process, there is no puzzle behind them, so the player does not feel satisfaction and reward for having discovered something on their own. No, the game serves it to him on a tray. We’ll get to that point in the story and boom, it’s solved. And even if the authors could not do it because they wanted a linear plot, it would be appropriate if the city was not just a background and some local stories were happening in it. Walking in this title comes down to looking for 90 collectibles. Where’s some side quests?

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I have one more problem with this game, but this time as a reviewer, not a player, because there is not much to judge here. This is a pure visual novel about walking, with no mini-games in it.And as a visual novel, The Kids We Were works decently. As I said, despite the slow spin up, it’s a nice story about time travel and childhood dreams that don’t always come true.

The voxel graphics are puzzling. Beautiful 2D drawings are usually the standard in visual novels, here, for an incomprehensible reason for me, block aesthetics were used, which is probably not the top of the artists’ dreams. Is this a reference to the classic GameBoy games and the presentation of the then pixels in 3D? I do not know. It is nice in its own way, but it does not correspond to what the game wants to convey, because it is associated with something more mechanical (in the style of voxel shooters) and hence my initial unfair expectations.

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That’s it. If you are looking for a 100% game, The Kids We Were will let you down. However, if you fancy a visual novel about time travel and teenagers with family problems, this is a nice proposition. You’ll get little gameplay, a lot of dialogue, a little background fumbling with collectibles, and a good story for +/- six hours. As much as I would like, there is nothing to complain about here, and I do not want to prolong this review by excessive spoilers ..

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