Kid A Mnesia: Review of the exhibition
Editor’s Note: Hello! Over the next few days, we’re having a ‘Games That Got Away’ series, where we finally get to reviewing games that are released at some point in 2021 but, for various reasons, we haven’t quite made it through. cover at the time.
We’ve come back to a few Real Gems, so for more catch-up reviews like this head to the Games That Got Away hub, where all of our series pieces will be gathered in one convenient place. Enjoy!
The first thing Kid A Mnesia: Exhibition tells you is that it’s not a game.
Even though published by Epic Games and downloadable from the PlayStation and Epic Games stores, Kid A Mnesia is not a game in the traditional sense, no, but that’s why the additional caption “Exposure” offers a little useful background here. A partnership between Epic and alternative rock band Radiohead, Kid A Mnesia is more of a visual and sound experience than a traditional game, an interactive music video through which you can experience the music of Radiohead alongside the trippy work of the singer Thom Yorke and long- standing cover artist, Stanley Donwood.
Your experience begins under the angry canopy of a hand-scribbled 2D forest, the dark and brooding tree trunks stretching endlessly towards a colorless sky, their limbs jutting out at sharp angles to tangle – and hit each other – to each other. In the distance a bright red fluorescent light burns but, well, that can’t be the way I’m supposed to be, can it? Red means it is a to go out, not an entry point – the entrances are usually green. Sometimes the color red is even a video game short for “something scary is about to happen”. Why the hell would I turn to the creepy red light when everything I know (read: not much) about codes and semiotics tells me I should run away from it?
That’s the thing about Kid A Mnesia, however; the usual rules do not apply. Much like a traditional exhibit, you weave your way through the exhibits, casually glancing at some of them, stopping to actively interact with others. All of them have a weird and avant-garde touch about them. Your adventure takes you through a pleasant mix of different formats, encompassing the gamut between chiseled wall markings and multimedia screens, lo-fi computer screens and a chamber made entirely of scraps of paper, oscillating wildly from concept to concept so you’re never quite sure what you’re going to encounter in the next room.
Despite his insistence, Kid A Mnesia is a game in that you decide where you want to go and when. While it will sometimes rob you of that agency – some of the footage, usually accompanied by full tracks from the album, is fully on track – you can decide the order in which you’ll see the exhibits, or go back if you ‘ are curious about a shaded slope you spotted. There are recurring themes; a horned beast will appear frequently to say hello, as will the periodic reappearance of the concept of doors (the lyrics to Radiohead’s track “Pulk / Pull Revolving Doors” take center stage as you enter the exhibition space: there are doors in the doors / and there are hatches / there are doors that open by themselves / there are sliding doors and secret doors / there are doors that allow you to enter and get out / but that never open / and there are hatches / that you can ‘i am not coming back from). However, which route do you take and the order in which you select those doors? It’s up to you.
Unsurprisingly, the best part of the experience for me was the more game-y part, a segment where you follow the path of fiery words etched on the walls of a concrete room. Lose the thread – which is easy to do considering you’re in a confined space and can have parts of six or seven different sentences on each wall – and the streak won’t end. This is where the lyrics of Pulk / Pull Revolving Doors retaliate as well, but it goes far beyond that, a full narrative revealed via a handful of words at a time that can only be completed if you carefully follow the line. track until its end.
Other times, however, I felt frustrated that I wasn’t in a rush and unable to make choices on my own. The pace at which you cycle through the exhibits is excruciatingly slow – presumably to make sure you listen to a certain percentage of each track before you go out – and there’s no way to skip the parts that you’re less interested in, especially if you fall. in a scripted sequence that won’t let you go until you experience the entire track.
That said, one cannot deny the skillful tension between the music and the visuals, the latter are not “frightening” but revel in the deep waters of the “unsettling”. Sometimes it’s not clear whether the locals around you are friends or foes – and you might be too scared to find out – but it’s a fascinating and totally new way to take a peek. to Yorke’s creative mind and to better understand how Kid A Mnesia was born. . No, I don’t always know what it all means – as the game describes itself in store descriptions, Kid A Mnesia is a “feverish dream space, an edifice, built from art and creatures, words and Kid’s recordings of Radiohead A and Amnesiac uncovered 20 years ago, reassembled and given new mutant life “- but it’s a wild adventure, and” feverish “is certainly an apt description here.
It’s the soundtrack that dominates this experience, however, as you might expect. Kid A was released in 2000 – and Kid A Mnesia in 2021 – but the two albums share the same DNA and are painfully well done by the striking visual art of Yorke and Donwood. Therefore, if you are familiar with Radiohead, the various title songs painted on the walls – In Limbo, Packt Like Sardines in a Crushd Tin Box, Ghost Chamber, The National Anthem – will probably make more sense to you than they do. have done for me. , but even if you’re just interested in modern art, Kid A Mnesia can also be enjoyed by those less familiar with Radiohead’s catalog, provided you don’t mind being forced to listen to a handful of songs. in their entirety.
I doubt that many Radiohead fans will object, but those who are less in love with their music may be frustrated with the lack of agency and control you have over your own destiny. Fortunately, since it only takes a few hours to explore the entire exhibit, you won’t have to do anything for too long.