63 responses

  1. Albert
    July 19, 2013

    Thanks for passing me on, though. I play video games far too late at night and if I want to get any sleep I usually have to physically type all the madness out of my head.

  2. Albert
    July 19, 2013

    Also, I can now tell my friends that the creator of a game commented on a game commenter’s comment on my comment on his commentary of a game.

  3. HM
    July 21, 2013

    Albert, here’s the tweet for your reference. And more crackpot theories are fine! Never in a million years would I have guessed the true interpretation of the second set of challenges in the second building were to “build a holographic brain” which was what Richard Perrin did let slip in Twitter after reading this breakdown of the story.

  4. Scott John Harrison
    December 25, 2013

    I just played Kairo – About the text on the first structure: If you look in the “museum” area before the secret ending – The text is right there.

    This makes me think that the text you see first thing is just corrupted or faded away somehow.

  5. HM
    December 31, 2013

    Hi Scott, I haven’t played through Kairo to its secret ending in the later build – in the original, the text was not there – hence I missed this. Thanks! I’ve now looked it up on YouTube. However, the secret ending is so fourth-wall breaking (it’s essentially behind-the-scenes) I wonder if anything there can be considered to be canon for the story. That is, is Perrin telling us “the text is just scrambled English” or is he saying “I made up some alien text using this as a baseline”?

  6. Scolopendra
    February 22, 2014

    I know I’m late to the party, but there is one “colonization/recolonization of Earth” trope that I’m surprised no one else has picked up on.

    Of /course/ there has to be a second survivor. There’s always got to be an Adam and Eve. ;)

  7. HM
    February 23, 2014

    Oh God Scolopendra, two people wouldn’t be a big enough gene pool! Hmm, how many coffins were in the mausoleum…?

  8. Reedmace
    March 31, 2014

    Very interesting insight. Thanks. Just a couple of points to add. Kairo = chi-rho, which is the ancient Christian symbol for Christ (the first two letters of his name in Greek). This ties in with the theme of resurrection. Secondly, I’m not sure whether this is just fanciful thinking, but the final symbol in the last throne room, which you refer to as a fern, looks more to me like three lines on one. That is, three-in-one, a symbol of the Trinity. Vast empty thrones, trees of life, arks. Is this the Judeo-Christian metanarrative or is this drawing from the Egyptian-alien creation myth? Or some amalgam of several myths?

    Nevertheless, I’m still not sure who the figure(s) in the TV screens is (are) – I originally thought these were the souls the lost waiting for resurrection. I was expecting their release at the end of the game…

  9. Gordelphus
    April 2, 2014

    Reedmace–I always thought the name, Kairo, was just the Japanese word for circuit. You know, what with death and rebirth and ouroboroses and so fourth. And solving the puzzles is a lot like completing circuits.

    We know there are at least 3 people in Kairo: the player, the skeleton, and that guy in the crucifix position that you glimpse during the end. At first I thought the creepy TV big brothers were images of the people dead in the coffins, but the numbers don’t match up. There are 24 coffins but more than 24 images of that watching head, and they’re all identical–what’s the chance that every person in the coffins has the same hairstyle, shape of head, thickness of neck, lack of beard or whiskers, etc? So it’s very likely just one guy. We know it’s not the player, so that leaves the skeleton and the crucifix guy. The skeleton can be ruled out easily: his neck is waay too thin, being just the bones, and doesn’t match that of the screens. So by elimination it must be Mr. Crucifix. The omnipresence is, as with the crucifix and the rebirth, very religious. Either that, or the screensaver on the Kairo computer is just unreasonably creepy.

    What’s more interesting, I think, is the coffin situation. I surmise that the people inside them were dead, maybe on the space shuttle or just lone survivors on post-apocalyptic Earth after whatever disaster killed not only the rest of the humans, but apparently all animal and plant life too. Kairo picked up these people, and either killed them or they were already dead. Probably the latter–Kairo doesn’t seem malicious. So it stored away the dead people it found, and woke them up one by one so they can fix the mess their kind made of the Earth.

    But note that there are 3 people in Kairo. However, it’s indicated that only 2 coffins have been opened. So one of the people wasn’t dead when they arrived, or, couldn’t die (or, at least, didn’t stay dead long enough to be put in a coffin). I agree with you, Reedmace, that although on the surface this is a sci-fi game where you need to fix the world using alien technology after an apocalypse, this seems to have strong elements of several religions in it. I mean, apart from the blatantly obvious ones like the Buddha picture or the torii Shinto gates. As much as it irked me, it reminds me of that film Promethius, where the aliens are so advanced that spirituality and science have become intimately intertwined.

  10. HM
    April 4, 2014

    @Reedmace, @Gordelphus: Hi there! Yes I do believe the original intention was for Kairo to reflect the Japanese word for circuit (because each room involves “completing a circuit” is my guess).

    The symbol I call the “fern” represents the final section of the game which, in the registry, is referred to as “Garden”, so I’m feeling confident it is meant to be fern or tree or plant of some type.

    I originally thought Kairo was some sort of seed ship, full of frozen bodies ready to be woken up – but after completing the game I abandoned that theory.

    I’ve always assumed the watcher was the skeleton simply because a screen with the shadowy head obscures the skeleton as you enter the monitoring station at the top of the tower. The implication seemed to be – here is the person who has been watching you.

    I didn’t pick up on religious symbolism in the game but, then again, I wasn’t looking for any.

  11. Reedmace
    April 16, 2014

    Gordelphus, HM: Thanks for the replies.

    OK, so clearly Kairo is intended to ‘reflect’ the Japanese for circuit. But I am still left wondering whether there is intentional double entendre. ‘Gardens’ are where creation (and recreation – thinking of the Easter story) takes place.

    The 2 catacombs each contain 12 tombs – a religiously significant number indicating ‘completion’ or ‘all people’ (12 tribes of Israel, 12 apostles, 12 lots of 12,000 in heaven, Rev 7). Presumably it wasn’t present in the version of Kairo HM reported above, but there are three (not two) tombs or coffins that don’t have white noise in the version I played. If we start numbering them from left to right from the entrance, the ‘wayfarer’ on his (or her) infinite journey is from (or in?) tomb 7. This must be the same one ‘swaying’ in the monitor in the final secret room, and spotted as a crucifix in the final screenshot above.

    But on tomb 10 is the static image of the control panel in front of the skeleton. This is the skeleton’s coffin. Ours is tomb 4 in the second catacomb (or 16 if you continue counting).

    The fact that we are faced with a skeleton in the control panel room means a physical body was wandering around, rather than some ethereal consciousness still linked to its body in the coffin. Also, we hear our own physical footsteps as we walk or run. Clearly, however, there is still some connection with the coffin, but what is it? Why does it display what we see? It must mean we are somehow still an integral part of Kairo itself. Maybe these ‘coffins’ are life support systems. Or maybe Kairo is somehow using a neural link between us and the coffin to monitor our activities – which is why we find our vision displayed on a screen in the secret room. Kairo, it appears, ‘knows’ more about humans than humans do.

    There are also still questions about the outside area. Why do we start the game at an abandoned throne? Why do we return to it before beginning each new phase? And why is the light beam reaching to the huge tower black, and the surrounding emptiness white, like a negative? It seems like this is ‘negative’ space – not meant for us?

    And where does the second Kairo satellite fit in? Do we unwittingly space-jump between the two as we progress through the game? What is the relations between the two satellites and ‘city’ that is revealed in the closing scenes of the game? Dunno.

    At first I thought all the thrones were huge, implying some giant alien species that had abandoned its kingdom or empire. But then seeing the skeleton sitting in one reveals that the are human size. Meant for us?

    This theme of thrones runs right through the game. Clearly it is a central motif. Power, solitude, authority, control. And yet each throne has a limited domain, defined by its symbol. All except the first, which is symbol-less and appears to be the primary one.

    But thrones and advanced machines don’t mix – at least not in modern sociological contexts. So how does this fit with a machine of human construction?

    This brings me back to the Egyptian-alien creation myth – that humanity was planted on earth, or at least influenced, by some advanced alien species several thousand years ago, resulting in an instant high culture and advanced mathematical and cosmological understanding. Everything in Kairo is built out of blocks, like the pyramids, and Kairo (Cairo – a triple entendre?) is this strange, but vaguely familiar, rescue machine devised and constructed by these same alien ‘deities’ experienced by ancient culture. Even the indecipherable writing on the back of the first ‘temple’ looks like a form of eroded Hebrew script – with shapes that look like words running in horizontal lines.

    So my take on it at the moment is that Kairo was built by an alien species, who genetically created or modified humanity at the dawn of history, came back (if they ever really left?) to save a remnant (12 + 12, symbolically the human race) from self annihilation, because ‘everyone deserve a second chance…’

    This could, of course, all be baloney – it is, after all, only a game!

  12. HM
    April 17, 2014

    @Reedmace – you’re now reaching at all those questions I couldn’t answer! I’m not sold on the religious angle, myself, although I can see there might well be overlap with creation/resurrection myths in theme.

    I’m still unsure who create Kairo and why – Richard Perrin does, but I don’t find the game particularly strong at projecting that information. Maybe it was deliberately subdued. I don’t know. Alien species seems much more likely but why does it need activating? Why does some of it seem “in ruins”?

    In terms of the two Kairo satellites, I thought of Kairo as an advanced structure which manipulates spacetime – think of something like The Way in Greg Bear’s Eon or the TARDIS from Doctor Who. The space within both satellites are connected in ways we cannot comprehend. They are one and the same, but not. Some of the locations and directions in Kairo don’t make a lot of sense and there are plenty of voids.

    YMMV!

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