Examining the children that we were
While I love action-packed video games, there are times when a break is needed. Simple puzzle games and healthy storytelling adventures are my favorites when trying to unwind from other genres at high intensity, which got me interested in this weird adventure title, The children that we were.
The children that we were is an adorable example of a stress-free storytelling adventure. Originally released as a mobile phone app, the game’s graphics are similar to 3d dot heroes and provide beautifully immersive environments to explore.
Pixelated levels have this creative presentation of a real-world Japanese city recreated from Legos. The sky and the lighting blend harmoniously to create a unique setting for each interaction, and it’s full of charm. The children that we were seems to be a coming of age story at the start of the adventure. However, an ordinary day becomes extraordinary in a matter of moments.
This moving story opens as Minato and his sister Mirai join their mother on a train ride to a memorial service. However, Minato and his sister have other plans. Their secret mission is to find their father. Their parents had an unpleasant divorce and they haven’t seen their father for a long time.
After their mother leaves for the service, the two young siblings begin their adventure. But, unfortunately, this is where the slice of life ends and the puzzle begins. The siblings slowly unravel a monstrous puzzle surrounding their father’s disappearance and a notebook describing the Seven Mysteries of Kagami, involving time travel, curses, and even yokai. Even more interesting is Minato Comes on a spaceship and a post of itself in the future.
The adventure is exceptionally rich in storytelling. Talking to everyone in the city is necessary to receive all the information needed to progress. However, exploration kicks in when you meet up with friends to uncover the secrets of a notebook strewn across the city.
Kagami consists of several streets and many places to visit, such as a shrine, schoolyard, and public baths. While you’re only confined to a few streets, new angles, times of day, and even alternate versions of locations make each area feel fresh with every visit. There are over 90 collectibles hidden in each area, which are relics of modern and retro Japanese culture. You can also collect yen coins which allow you to use gacha capsule machines to help you finish collecting all relics. These were fun and easy to find and interrupted the storytelling, making exploring the city exciting.
The length of the game is appropriate; covering 16 chapters took about 8 hours to complete. While the designs seem to have a childish charm, the mature themes make it look more adult than I initially expected. While it may be worth mentioning, the story scenes deal with illness, death, and abuse, but that doesn’t completely remove some more playful interactions. Additionally, the Steam version features 20 new achievements and a bonus epilogue that takes place after the main story.
The children that we were is an adorable adventure about family, friendship and personal growth. The game sophisticatedly merges supernatural tales with real-world events where each chapter feels like an episode from an anime. It’s brief in some ways, highlighting its minimalist presentation. And, of course, the story gets almost insanely haphazard and heavy through its sci-fi-based narrative dumps, but it comes together well as a whole.