Before we dive into this review I’ve got to put my hand up and say I admit it. This review is late. Very late. I was hoping to bash out an impartial, objective and fair assessment of Kalimba ages ago. Yes, ages ago. But in my own defence I have to say it wasn’t my fault. Blame Kalimba. The darned game was so alluring that I couldn’t put it down to get to this review. Honest.
Don’t believe me? Take a look at the screen shots accompanying this review. Now ask yourself; does this look like a triple A title game? No, it doesn’t. But guess what? Kalimba is probably one of the best games you’ll play this year bar none. Developers Press Play have struck gold with this little gem.
A simple puzzle platformer, Kalimba tells the story of a mythical land called Kalimba which is protected by a benevolent shaman, who rules the world with a magical totem pole. All is well in the idyllic paradise until an evil shaman appears, kills the good shaman, shatters her totem pole and threatens to envelop the world in a shroud of darkness. The good shaman (who has mysteriously and magically survived the attack) realises she can control pieces of the broken totem and use them to create a bigger and more powerful pole. Your task is to take control of not one but two totem pieces, navigate your way through the land and recover parts of the broken totem pole.
Ok, War and Peace it isn’t. But it works. And it works well. Kalimba’s apparent simplicity belies its complexity and superbly crafted challenge. The learning curve is so subtle and gradual that, although the puzzles become more and more complex, you never feel that you’re out of your depth. As you progress through the Kalimba’s 24 levels you’ll learn how to double jump, switch each totem pole pieces’ colour and you’ll acquire new powers such as the ability to fly or change size that will help you complete each section. Mini games are introduced during each level to really give you a chance to familiarise yourself with your new powers before you’re thrown into the game proper. And once you’ve complted them you can compare your score on a global leaderboard. Excellent.
Kalimba’s graphics are crisp, colourful and, thankfully unobtrusive. This is an old school platformer that wants nothing to get in the way of you tackling the puzzles head (or two heads) on. Even the games narrator, a curiously bear shaped character called HoeBear, is toned down so he makes you smile occasionally rather than hogging the limelight and detracting from the game. Press Play have also been pretty generous with the auto save feature. So, should you die (and trust us, you will. Often), its not a hard slog to an autosave hours away so you can try again.
To finish Kalimba will take you anything between 4 hours to days and days if you insist on picking up absolutely everything on a level. The only downside is that, once you’ve cracked a puzzle, you’ll have little incentive to go back and try again as you just have to commit the solution to memory. But that minor niggle will do little to detract from what is essentially a gaming classic. Kalimba is a marvelous experience for anyone who enjoys platform puzzles. For anyone who hasn’t tried a good platformer lately, there could be no better re-introduction to the genre. Go play.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Microsoft Xbox One code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Gameplay - /10
Graphics - /10
Sound - /10
Replay Value - /10
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