The Kite


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Rating: 4.6/5 (22 votes)
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The Kite

elleIn the Ukraine, nearly half the population endures domestic abuse at some time in their lives; it is the women and children who suffer from this physical and emotional tumult most often. Masha is one of those women and, tonight, she has finally hit her tipping point. After a violent fight with her husband, Masha's son has gone missing along with The Kite which he loves so much.

The KiteIn this provocatively portrayed adventure game from Anate Studio, help Masha in her harrowing night by pointing and clicking through the somber environment to gather the tools and courage needed to reach her son. With the exception of [P] to pause and access the menu, all controls are confined to the mouse, with different functions for the right and left buttons, and a drop-down inventory keeps items handy. The changing cursor mechanism works well to indicate interactivity with people and objects or where a scene can be exited; explore each scene by moving your cursor over everything. Gameplay resembles an escape-the-room game: solve a few puzzles, determine how to get past obstacles, and just get out of there to find the missing boy.

The puzzles and situational riddles are truly enjoyable yet can be tinged with annoyance in a couple instances, a couple quirks in the interface or design accounting for part of the challenge. In one case, the click points for closing a drawer and for taking an object out of it are too close, which is misleading. Later on, the particular order of operations in another puzzle might leave you baffled. During dialogue, a clock with spinning hands marks your wait; this might pique your impatience yet it also sets the pace to one that matches Masha's persistent hardship. Topping off its affecting visuals, the game's soundtrack—all Beethoven—sets the tone and adds a poetic element to the overall mood of the experience. The Kite is short, about an hour for the average player, yet its impact is much longer lasting.

The KiteAnalysis: Game designer Anatoliy Koval and artist Tanya Medvid effectively employ Naturalism in their art and story; this results in a quiet beauty that softens the edges of melodrama, keeping it from being an eye-rolling soap opera. Just as you're perhaps looking sideways at Masha, wondering how she can stand upright with such a weak spine, you're compelled to keep playing, to see more, to spectate, and to wish for a happy solution to the problem. Soon it becomes clear: people in abusive domestic situations are clouded by their circumstances and do not have the perspective of a better situated outsider who can come along and see so clearly what they ought to do. Lack of education, financial dependence, psychological exhaustion, knowing only this way of life, and an apathetic society trap them in a cycle of abuse. Masha doesn't comment on that, though. She knows one thing: find her son.

There is something about art that defies description, that makes it all come together and, simply, work. For The Kite, it is its heart. Nothing is crassly or gratuitously added merely to appease players; Koval and Medvid clearly love their game, value their work and care about its design. This investment in the game and empathy for their characters transmits to us, the players. It's not just about the message or the gameplay, the story or the art. While The Kite has a fair amount of shortcomings, its merits make it engaging and enjoyable, contrarily, considering the subject matter. The few flaws in the diamond don't stop it from being a gem even if they do distract from its luster.

Although it's very stark and sordid, The Kite succeeds in being also beautiful, headily atmospheric and moving. Stunning, even. If Thomas Hardy was around today as an Indie game designer, I don't doubt this is the kind of game he'd make. Whether Masha faces a better fate than Tess of the D'Urbervilles, I'll leave to your own discovery.

UPDATE: The latest build of The Kite, version 1.2e is now available on Desura (look under "releases" in the right hand column). Version 1.2e fixes a hotspot issue, described in the review, and has a much improved English translation.

WindowsWindows:
Download the free full version

Mac OS XMac OS X:
Not available.
Try Boot Camp or Parallels or CrossOver Games.

Walkthrough Guide


(Please allow page to fully load for spoiler tags to be functional.)

Walkthrough: The Kite

Note: this walkthrough gives the most direct solution to the listed scenarios. It does not include extra steps for discovering "easter eggs" or dialogue encounters which you'll find by exploring on your own. Please use sparingly. ;-)

The Livingroom: Andrew is Hungry

  1. Go into the kitchen (door on the right).

  2. Next to the fridge is a bread box. Open it and take the SLICE OF BREAD.

  3. Back in the livingroom, on the TV, is a JAM JAR. Take it.

  4. In your inventory, combine the bread with the jam jar.

  5. Give the jam-covered toast to Andrew.

Oleh's Home: Math Problems

  1. After giving the jam-covered bread to Andrew, there is a knock on the door.

  2. Go to the apartment entry door by clicking the bottom right part of the screen.

  3. Click the door to let Oleh in. Then, click on Oleh to ask him about his job.

  4. Follow him to the kitchen and find out more.

  5. Go back into the entry way and search through Oleh's coat for a math puzzle:

    • Solve the puzzle by finding series of three numbers, horizontal or verticle, that add up to 19.

    • When you have found and circled three more sets of 19, the puzzle will close, leaving you with a piece of PAPER WITH NUMBERS on it.

    • Screenshot: Math Puzzle

  6. Go to the kitchen and give Oleh the completed math puzzle.

The Fight and Escaping the Kitchen

UPDATE: If you're having trouble accessing the MATCHES in the kitchen drawer, consider updating to version 1.2e, available on Desura (see the note above this walkthrough section).

  1. Take Oleh's vodka bottle.

  2. Dump it in the sink.

  3. Hear the fighting from Andrew's perspective. Then, click on the kite.


  4. Now, Masha is locked in the kitchen...

  5. Open the drawer nearest the sink:

    • Click--several times repeatedly if necessary--inside the drawer to get the MATCHES (they're in the back part of the drawer, nearest the stove).

  6. Use the matches on the GAS RANGE.

  7. Pick up the LARGE POT from the bottom of the screen.

  8. Put the pot in the sink and turn in the sink to fill it with water.

  9. Pick up the pot again then put it on the lit burner.

  10. The water will boil quickly. Pick it up.

  11. Open the freezer. Inside is a knife "frozen tightly."

    • Use the BOILING WATER on the KNIFE to get it.

  12. Click on the kitchen utensils hanging next to the sink; they'll fall, leaving just the a long narrow board.

  13. Using the KNIFE, unscrew the board and take it.

  14. Use the NARROW BOARD under the door.

The Game's On, Where's Our Child?

  1. Talk to Oleh in the livingroom.

  2. Grab the PLIERS from the coffee table.

  3. Go through the front door to the building hallway.

  4. Go to the right and then up the stairs.

  5. Talk to the man at the top of the stairs. He will help you get on the roof, but only for a cigarette.

Finding a Cigarette, Getting a Camera

  1. From the man who wants a cigarette, go down the stairs, then down again to go outside.

  2. An old man outside won't give you a cigarette unless you can show him who it's going to.

  3. There's a CAMERA on the overhang about the door. To get it, you'll need some boxes:

    • Pick up the BOX OUTSIDE, by the steps.

    • Back inside, by Masha's door, there is a BOX ON THE BIKE. Take it.

    • Upstairs, click on the bottom electrical panel. There's a third BOX BEHIND THE PANEL. Get it.

  4. Outside, click on the cat:

    • Watch where the cat goes. Click him again.

    • Put a box everywhere the cat goes (except the tree).

    • Eventually, the cat will end up on the overhang abover the front door, knocking off a small box from up there.

  5. Pick up the box that the cat knocks down to get a CAMERA.

Camera Shy Guy and Getting on the Roof

  1. You need a picture of the guy on the stairwell to show the old man, so use the camera for that. But he won't let you keep his picture; he keeps throwing it away....

    • Go down to the first floor, the door by the stairs (home of the woman who has her own troubles).

    • On the ground outside her door is a BOARD. Pick it up.

    • Put the board inside the TRASH CHUTE on the first floor stair landing.

  2. With the trash chute blocked below, you can take the guy's picture again.

  3. When he throws it away, go downstairs and get the PICTURE off the board in the trash chute.

  4. Outside, show the picture to the old man and he'll give you a cigarette.

    • Give the cigarette to the guy in the stairwell.

    • He'll go upstairs, leaving the roof access open to you.

On the Roof: TV Reception

  1. Go up on the roof, click on the car keys next to "him".

  2. After poking around a bit and finding your TV antena, you realize you can't do anything while the smoking man is around.

    • Go downstairs and outside.

    • There's a car parked out front. Click it to set off the car alarm.

    • Go back to the roof.

  3. Now, since the smoker's gone, you can use the KNIFE on your TV antena (it's the one on the far right side, slightly toward the back.)

  4. Before you leave, grab the STEP LADDER on the far right side of the roof.

  5. As you go to leave, though, Oleh is standing there.

Crossing the Street

  1. After a brutal conflict with Oleh, go back outside the building.

  2. Click the lower right corner of the screen to get out to the street.

  3. In order to cross the street, though, you need to fix the traffic signal:

    • First, take the CROWBAR from the edge of the building (on the right side of the screen).

    • Then, use the crowbar to open the CONTROL PANEL at the base of the light pole (left side of the screen).

    • Using your PLIERS (from coffee table, inside the apartment), remove two WIRES from the control panel.

  4. Now, go back inside Masha's building:

    • On the right side of the hallway is an elevator. The ELEVATOR BUTTON is torn from the wall.

    • Use the PLIERS to get the elevator button's WIRES.

  5. Go back to the street.

  6. Put the STEP LADDER (found on the roof), at the traffic signal. Then, fix the traffic lights:

    • Use your CROWBAR to open the signal's panel.

    • Take the LIGHTBULB from the middle slot.

    • In your inventory, tie the two sets of wires together, according to color.

    • Insert both the longer wires in the TOP slot.

    • Then, put the lightbulb back into the MIDDLE slot.

    • Close the cover.

  7. The light is on, but it's not red. One thing can give it...

    • Right click the signal's glass to wipe Masha's bloody hand on it.

  8. With the traffic now stopped, you can cross the street to look for Andrew.

13 Comments

Wow, the artwork on this looks amazing. I hope they will port to Mac soon.

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pinkfan.ms Author Profile Page April 29, 2012 4:43 AM

My name's in a videogame! This is awesome :3 U all should be jelly :D

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so... how do I open the inventory?

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Is there a bug? I never find

a box outside the apartment, only the one upstairs and the one outside on the steps

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The thing that got me most was how Masha approached solving her problems. She seemed oddly willing to just jump through whatever hoops they gave her without arguing too much, or even speaking up and telling them that her child is in danger and she needed to help him. It makes me wonder, has living an abusive spouse taught her that any appeal to empathy is just useless, and the only way to reach people is to give them what they want?

Perhaps if she'd just been honest with them, she'd have been able to get things done quicker and get to her son in time. Maybe not, but it feels like a possibility that someone would have been moved enough to help her. I think the real tragedy of this is how she's been conditioned to think.

Apart from the dialogue, which could have used some editing, this was perfect. It wasn't a fun game, but it wasn't supposed to be.

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beatricekiddo Author Profile Page May 3, 2012 3:52 AM

Really did not enjoy this game. It seemed promising with its beautiful artwork. But the gameplay was unnecessarily obtuse with very little clues about why Masha is stuck at any particular point. This is essentially an escape-the-room game, and its unnecessary obtuseness was quite annoying. For example:

Having the cat knock down the camera. That was so far out. I would have thought that a normal person would be able to find a stick or a broom to knock that down.

This game had the potential to be great. So it was quite disappointing to see the gameplay issues.

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This is a perfect example of how games can be important in making people understand and become motivated about issues, by forcing them into a position where they have to empathise with the lot of others. Understand by being there. And without needing to resort to easy tear jerkers. I can't wait to see what else these folks will do.

The atmosphere sucked me straight in, and I kept going even though theoretically the apathy of the protagonist should have made me care less. But I cared - while simultaneously somehow sharing her apathy. It's difficult to explain, but the game is very successful in achieving just the right tone, through (fantastic and fitting) graphics, through the music choices and most importantly: through gameplay. What could have counted as drawbacks (mindless back and forth trotting, sense of loss, lack of direction, minimal options, sometimes lack of obvious solutions) helped instead in showcasing the emotional state of the protagonist. I normally hate these things. I normally never finish a game like this without walkthroughs. But I was so wrapped up, I just kept mindlessly going on, just like her, on to the next task.

Really well done, really worth playing. Go in without expectations and allow the game to take you there.

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aesagaming Author Profile Page August 11, 2013 11:32 AM

I just did a let's play of this game on my YT channel, and honestly I'm very disappointed in it. The very serious and dark nature of this game is totally lost in the ridiculous puzzles and shoddy dialogue translation. I think people are reading far too much into this game's obvious flaws when they say they somehow "add" to the atmosphere of the game. A crumby game is a crumby game, regardless of the topics its story addresses.

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