Kalimba is one of those games that you will refuse to put down until you’ve finished the current level. “Come on…I have to be able to beat this!” you’ll say as you restart again and again. It’s also a lot of fun.
Eight levels and a boss battle were available in the pre-release beta, and already the challenge and fun on display has proven this is going to be a game to watch for. Originally known as Project Totem, this puzzle-platformer from Press Play features both single-player and co-op modes in which you guide two (or four in co-op) differently colored totem pieces through psychedelic worlds. The graphics are all made out of stark, thick lines and bright colors and are mostly made up of triangles. The “trixelated” art style almost made me wish I was still in school so I could draw these characters in the corners of my notebooks.
Beginning puzzles range from the challenge of having to move both characters simultaneously to avoid two sets of obstacles at once to making sure the right-colored character moves through the right-colored barriers. There are all kinds of other challenges that are introduced as you move through the colorful worlds, as well as mini-game rooms where you can try to improve your skills. In the eight levels available, more kinds of challenges and obstacles continued to build at a nice pace, with seemingly new gameplay additions coming in on almost every level.
The first boss battle was a real wild ride too. While still using the same gameplay mechanics, it throws everything on its head to make the platformer’s more laid-back puzzle vibe turn into almost a SHMUP-style action game.
Press Play’s last Xbox One game, Max: The Curse of Brotherhood (which was a bit of an overlooked gem), featured a similarly excellent level of difficulty progression in which each new idea that got thrown at you was only able to be overcome because of the skills you had learned in the levels leading up to it. It’s a great way to design a game that really makes you feel like you’re getting better and pushes you to continue playing.
Another thing to get excited for is the humor in Kalimba. The cut-scenes and the guiding NPC characters all make lots of silly jokes and meta video game commentary that will keep you laughing and stop you from just mashing the ‘A’ button to get through to the next level.
The finished game will feature 24 single-player levels and 10 co-op levels. There is plenty in the trailer embedded above that wasn’t in the first eight levels, so I’m sure there will be lots to experience when the full game is released on December 17.