PREVIEW / Kalimba (X1)


Recent indie developer turned Microsoft first-party studio Press Play has a new game coming out December 17th called Kalimba. Kalimba, previously known as Project Totem, is a fun little puzzle platformer that puts you in control of totem heads, and tasks you with finding the other missing pieces of your totem pole. As I said previously the game will release on December 17th (with a PC release sometime in 2015), but I managed to get my hands on a sneak peek code to take a look at a portion of the game before release.


A Friend to Guide You:

As you start the game you are greeted by a talking bear wearing clothes. And yes, Winnie the Pooh, that includes PANTS. This magnanimous mammal gets you up to speed on the story and what you’re trying to accomplish. He calls himself Hoebear, but he looks more like a pimp to me. Let’s analyze this photo to illustrate my point:


I’m going to ignore the fact that he’s a purple bear and just try to focus on the evidence here folks. First off we can see he’s got his pimp hat and pimp coat, but the cherry on top has got to be the gold tooth and the diamond topped pimp cane. And of course the fact that “ho” is the first part of his name.

Anyway, Hoebear tells you a little backstory about how a good shaman lady had a really strong magical totem pole that helped the land peacefully thrive. One day an evil shaman came along and destroyed the totem pole and killed the lady, but her spirit couldn’t die. Soon she realizes that she can control pieces of her totem pole as a spirit, and she sets off on a mission to rebuild her totem pole by gathering the missing pieces that are scattered throughout the land.


The Puzzling Begins:

At first glance this game seems simple enough. There are two totems, one green and one purple, and they are both vertically aligned. It’s as if you are playing split screen, but the game you’re controlling both characters. You can move left and right, as well as jump with the “A” button. One unique feature is switching places with the other totem, which instantly teleports the totems to the others previous location. Changing which totem is on top and which is on bottom is critical because of these walls of “energy” for lack of a better term, that are color coded and designed for each specific totem.

The game starts out by warming players up to some light platforming while keeping the characters vertically aligned, but soon the developers mix things up and by showing you just how much fun this little concept can be. Soon, by manipulating the placement of those aforementioned “energy” fields, players will have to carefully figure out how to seperate their totem pieces and realign them in some cases. Sometimes you had to stand on two vases to open the next part of the level, other times you would have to use the correct color totem to jump into a circle that would reverse gravity. Take a look at this clip of me not completely sucking to see what I mean.



The First Boss:

After playing the first seven levels, the eighth was a boss. The evil shaman shows up again and this time he waves his staff and makes a giant skeleton snake appear which begins to chase you. As you’re running for your life, you also have to avoid the wrong color energy fields as well as the projectiles the snake shoots. After running for a while, you come to a big open area that is a dead end. Now you must avoid the snake’s attacks until it charges at you. Once the snake charges at you, you must land on the orange spots on its body in order to defeat it. Here’s a quick clip of me going through the boss level:



Co Op Gameplay:

Co-op was pretty fun, and there were 5 out of 10 levels available to play in the beta. Gameplay was pretty much the same, but this time you have four totems instead of two. One player controls the red totems and the other controls the blue totems as you go through levels similar to the single player missions, but maybe a little bit longer. They might not actually be longer, we could’ve just had issues trying to get through each stage. Check out this mash up of some of our time in co op:



Kalimba will be released December 17th on Xbox One for $9.99. I have to say that it wasn’t on my radar before, but it sure is now. Will you be picking up Kalimba? Let us know in the comments below!