When I tried out Playables’ newest game, Kids, I spent a lot of time shoving people into a hole. Like the developer’s last title, Plug & Play, it’s a sparsely illustrated interactive experience that radiates dark humor and discomfort. That, along with the game’s unique black-and-white hand-drawn aesthetic, attracted publisher Double Fine Presents. Kids will be out later this year for PC and mobile devices.
It appears as a gaping darkness in the ground, and the only thing you can do is tap on the screen. This causes all the little people to fall blithely into it. When they do, they seem to vanish for forever. Is the black hole adulthood? Is it succumbing to peer pressure, like when parents rhetorically ask, “If all your friends jumped off a bridge, would you?” Are we the black hole? The symbolism isn’t entirely clear from the short demo, but it seems sinister or, at the very least, uncomfortably inevitable.
In another scenario within the demo, a crowd of people diffuses responsibility among themselves. Tapping one person gets the others nearby to point at them and say, “You do it.” Tapping another gets the same response — “No, you do it.” This continues until you “solve” the puzzle, which is to get everyone to point at one person until they cave and say, “Fine, I’ll do it.”
Kids’ puzzles aren’t terribly involved, but like Plug & Play, it’s more of an art piece than a brainteaser. Its fluid animation and vignettes are enjoyable and thought-provoking, and though it feels like Playables has its own message it’s trying to communicate, it’s open enough that you can bring your own interpretation to it.