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Kanso – Review (Early Access Version)

Experimental puzzle games as definitely my jam and so are zen relaxed games too. Kanso tried to merge the two sides together by providing a unique and interesting ‘avoid the koi fish’ puzzler. There is plenty to enjoy on the early access version with the promise of more to come.

Avoid them fishes but don’t do in reverse!

Kanso is inspired by the calligraphy art of Enso. With Enso you draw an ink circle on a blank sheet of paper every day and its meant to focus and calm the mind. Kanso starts off with this premise by giving you half-proverbs on a screen and for you to slowly rotate your analogue stick around in a circle. Go too fast, back off or reverse and your inkblots and you have to start again. Thankfully this is just the introduction as otherwise, Kanso would not be very fun at all.

With its watercolour blooms as a backdrop, koi fish are introduced to the screen. They move around in spirograph shapes that will intersect with your circle. Your job is to create your circle without touching any of the koi. Touching them will also give you an inkblot and you need to start again. Different coloured fish do different things too. Some follow specific lines, others chase you around the circle, others swim away. The more fish, the trickier it becomes.

There is a spirograph quality to the levels that reminds me of the game Engare.

I found myself initially being quite underwhelmed whilst equally impressed with the colours, graphics and sounds. It feels like a devotional moment of fishy enlightenment. Then after about 10 levels, I started to get really into the game mechanics and as more things were added in, I could see where Kanso was headed. There are about 120 levels in the early access mode with an expected 300+ to feature in the main game. There is also a breathing session too to make you feel extra zen and relaxed.

It is clear that the game is not designed to be a hardcore experience and so you shouldn’t expect something rageful or challenging here. Instead, I found myself unusually engrossed by the culmination of everything rather than one specific thing. It is beautifully put together and I thoroughly enjoyed myself once it got going.

Final Thoughts
A relaxing and chilled experience that is forming into a great distraction from daily life.
Looks absolutely beautiful.
Great sound design too.
Such a simple game mechanic that anyone can play with.
Some of the quotes and text feel too abstract or like its trying to hard to be an Instagram quote.
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