Price: £3.99 (£2.09 soundtrack)
Where To Get It: Steam
Kind Words is a game with the best of intentions: Put simply, you write… Kind words. Sometimes they’re words of encouragement. Sometimes, they’re words of understanding. Sometimes, they’re shared pleasures. Sometimes, if you feel you have the capability to give it, they’re words of advice.
So, disclosure time: I’m a depressive. Not as bad as others, but still I have my very bad days, and don’t deal well. So it was actually somewhat nice to see a game like this, where comforting beats are the only music, to send out a few of my problems and receive advice of varying usefulness, kind words, and the sympathy of shared experiences. But… I want to put out a few disclaimers.
This isn’t going to replace a support network, and you shouldn’t go in thinking that. It has some heavy requests, so people who have a lot of empathy aren’t going to be doing themselves any favours. Follow the advice of the devs, in not giving away personal deets. And the advice will vary in mileage, just as it does anywhere else. Remember folks, if you can see mental health professionals, or be prescribed medication/therapy, please do so. Okay, disclaimers over. Let’s talk about what you actually do.
So, essentially, you have 14 lines in which to respond to 7 line requests. You are rewarded for offering those kind words to others, be it advice, clarification on a question they have, kind words, or sympathy, in two different ways: Stickers, and, daily, a musical track offered by your anxious mail delivery deer, who’s building a mix-tape for you to help deal with their own anxiety. That’s… Pretty nice, actually. And everything is anonymous, and there is a report button (sadly, always looking like it isn’t active. But it is, always) if something’s up (So far, the devs have been very good at moderating.)
If somebody likes your advice, they’ll send you a sticker. Anonymously. And likewise, you get to make your own requests for advice or kind words, with that aforementioned 7 line limit. Finally, you get to write more general kind words (7 line limit), and send them off in a paper plane, which then flies past other people’s rooms for them to click on if they so choose.
And, while it has been a criticism levelled at the game, that you don’t see who liked your advice, or get replies back, it’s… Honestly understandable. It’s specifically for these short little bursts of kind words, and, if we’re being honest, the anonymising of names through initials (J wrote this, T wrote that…) means that it would be hard to remember what piece of advice you offered.
Aesthetically, the game has a few nice touches. While stickers are limited, each one adds a decoration to your small, isometric bedroom/writing room, the stars of the background are a nice use of the negative space (and I found it pleasing that they form, as you scroll up to the room, the word LOVE. Which is LOVEly.) Musically, it’s chillhop, almost ambient, relaxing beats that put you in the right frame of mood to be calm, and maybe help some folks out.
Overall, while the disclaimers I made are still very true, it has, apart from the odd request that was either silly (not in terms of a silly situation, but a non-question) or emotionally draining to me (part of the devs’ help here is a button linking mental health resources as part of the making and replying to requests UX), been a pleasant experience, and one I return to, for a short time each day (as intended), just… Sending what positive vibes and warm beverages I can. And that’s what it’s there for.
The Mad Welshman approves of more kindness in the world. Don’t fuck that up, please.