Kalimba – is it an African musical instrument? An exotic new dance? Or a fun new stocking-stuffer game from Press Play that was formerly known as Project Totem? If you’re guessing it’s the last option, then read on and see what makes this upcoming puzzler such a sweet little gem.
In Kalimba, you control two figureheads of a totem pole and move them through the environment simultaneously. You need to fight the evil shaman to restore the full totem pole for the people who live on this island. This is your goal, and it’s a fun one. Because you’re controlling twin animal totems, you have to be willing to take on some cognitive challenges.
For example, are you going to have your figures jump, double jump, stack, or switch positions to get through or across the physical obstacles that stand in your way? Or, in co-op mode, how are you going to communicate well enough with your gaming buddy to successfully maneuver four totems across the terrain? (A little like herding cats, so be prepared to be super-cooperative here!)
Controls are simple, easy-to-use and very responsive (without being overly touchy), so that allows you to fully focus on the task at hand. The graphics are great, too, and build on a unique “triangle” approach to building up elements. Details are clear, if a little cartoonish.
There are supposed to be three different environments, but after a couple of hours of solo and co-op play I only got to know the tunnels background (quite well). If you really study the screen, everything has a slight glow to it, which makes it more inviting to play and stay awhile in this quirky island world.
The narrator (a pink bear with sunglasses) has a smooth, mellow voice to introduce a segment or give tips at designated points. There’s nothing violent or offensive here, so even the youngest gamers will enjoy playing with these funny, colorful animals.
To sum it up, Kalimba is a cheery, challenging puzzler that will surely bring a few hours of holiday joy to the gamer on your list. Check back after the game launches for our full review.