Many gamers my age have said that they are tired of playing games from companies that have clearly put all of their work into making a game pretty, instead of creating a game that is fun to play. Kalimba, created by Press Play Studios, is one of those few gems that is challenging and fun, and still looks good.
Kalimba has all the nostalgic feel of a Super Mario game mixed in with a platform puzzler to create a unique challenge. Rather than control one character, you instead use two that have the ability to swap places with one another.
The story for the game is basic, in that it is your typical game where an evil power has taken over a peaceful world. In the world of Kalimba there is peace throughout the land, however all of that is shattered when an evil shaman comes along and kills the good shaman. As a result the good shaman’s totem is shattered into pieces that are then scattered across the land. The good shaman’s spirit is able to control the pieces of totem so that they can work together to bring peace back to the land of Kalimba.
While Kalimba may first appear to be nothing more than a simple platformer, it has a gameplay mechanic that makes it stand out from the rest. You are able to swap the position of your two characters in order to complete specific puzzles. As you complete each level you restore a piece to the good shaman’s totem. There are countless hours to be spent having fun in the game as even though you may finish a particularly challenging level, if you died repeatedly the piece of totem you restore will look far less finished than if you had died once or twice. It will literally look like nothing more than a block of wood; this will actually make you want to retry the level over and over until you have obtained that better looking piece of totem.
Hidden throughout the game are portals that lead to a challenging level. Much like in Super Meat Boy, these levels are extremely hard to complete, however they are also very rewarding. The bosses are also a fantastic challenge as they still require you to solve puzzles while being chased by an enormous monster.
What makes the puzzles in this game so challenging is controlling both totems at the same time. While a path may seem clear for one of your totems, it may not be so easy for the other one. There are specific parts of the level that can only be passed through by the correctly coloured totem and if you use the wrong one, you have to start again. The levels are also filled with a dark substance created by the dark shaman that will destroy your totem on contact, making each level that much harder to deal with. The game also adds a twist with the use of switches that have the ability to make the totems act as magnets. If they are switched one way they will be pulled towards each other, whilst they can also be switched so that they push each other to opposite ends of the level.
While the soundtrack for this game is nothing memorable, the graphics are another story. Press Play have done a fantastic job of creating retro style graphics that have a sharp look to them that makes the game look fantastic. What you get from this is a beautiful world filled with cartoon graphics that are charming and pleasant on the eyes. The particle effects involved in this game are spectacular in every way and you will find yourself admiring every level you play through.
There are only two reasons that I simply cannot give this game a perfect score, which is unfortunate considering how good this game is. Upon downloading the game on release day I had issues having the game run properly as I was greeted with a black screen on startup. When I checked the forums I found out that many other people were having the same problem, which is something that should not be happening on release day.
The second problem was finding out that there was a 5.99 CAD DLC available on release day. This is an instant negative for me as if they had additional content ready for the game on release day it should have just been included with the game since it was a digital download anyways. Some may find this to be a huge deterrent, however the game is still fantastic without it.
Kalimba is one of those rare gems that you come across that will satisfy your need for a challenging puzzle game that actually brings something new to the table. This game manages to perfectly blend a mix of a Super Mario style platformer with complex puzzle solving. While there are some problems with release day DLC and graphical display issues, Press Play has created something truly unique in this indie game and it is well worth the price!
Kalimba (Reviewed on Windows)
This game is great, with minimal or no negatives.
While there are some problems with release day DLC and graphical display issues, Press Play has created something truly unique in this indie game and it is well worth the price!