“Kalimba” is a fun puzzle to solve

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First Posted: 1/28/2015

During this time of year there is a huge shortage of games coming out. Luckily the new consoles have a pretty good stream of independent titles to download. “Kalimba” is a new, quirky puzzle game on Xbox live and PC.

“Kalimba” is a fun, platforming game where your character is a colorful, animated totem pole who is trying to free the “Island of Kalimba” from the control of an Evil Shaman. The graphics and art style are really unique. They are called “trixelated “ where most of the designs consist of triangles. Another great thing about “Kalimba” is the music. The background tunes are upbeat and fun, and when you collect triangles it changes the music up by inserting little auto-tuned sound effects so it feels like you are creating your own soundtrack.

The game-play is where the game is most interesting. Essentially you play as two different “totem pole” pieces, however, they don’t move at the same time. You have to control them independently and simultaneously, creating the challenge. There are colored markers on the screen that you have to navigate the two pieces to the corresponding colored base to complete the puzzle. The only thing is each totem can only move around in it’s own colored area. If one of the totems touches liquid that’s a different color then itself or an enemy, both pieces die and you have to start over.

It sounds easy but with the layout of some of the game levels and pitfalls, it can really make you think. Some of my favorite parts of the game is where your gravity has been manipulated and you have to figure out how to move to where you want to go. If you get good at a level you can earn a gold totem and every time you die it takes away from the quality of the whole totem pole.

When you see the final pole at the end of the level, each death will be marked with an blank piece and it looks really bad. When you master a level and earn your gold totem there is a huge sense of pride seeing it on display. There is also an online leader board so you can compare your score with your friends, even though there is no online play.

The place where “Kalimba” really shines is the cooperative game play. There is no online component but the couch co-op is really great. If you thought the single player was difficult, the co-op will be a real test of your friendship. When you play multi-player the difficulty is doubled. When playing co-op, each player controls a group of colored totems and the goal is similar to the single player but the difficulty is amped up. You have the added challenge of communicating your intentions with your gaming partner and trying to synchronize your actions, which can be quite difficult.

There are other game modes besides co-op, such as “Old School” mode, where you have only a set amount of lives to complete the game. After you complete the co-op with your friend it unlocks a “shorthand” mode that lets you play both co-op characters with one controller by yourself, which is a bizarre and interesting challenge.

Thanks to the look of the game and the innovative game-play it feels like a great combination of old and new. “Kalimba” was fun to play, the graphics are bright and colorful and the music is very catchy. If you like indie, puzzle solving games you will love “Kalimba,” especially if you have a good friend to play with. Though the difficulty might be off putting to some people.