Kalimba is what might happen if The Mighty Boosh were suddenly asked to art direct an indie platform game. Its presentation is all whimsy and surrealism; but its heart is a pure test of skill, logic and spacial awareness.
Our ursine host, Hoebear The Metabear, introduces the game. He describes himself as “a vaguely bear-shaped geometric character in a video game,” (See? Straight out of The Boosh). He also explains the central idea – you're controlling two differently-coloured characters at the same time, who can only pass safely through areas of the same colour.
Later, the mechanics get even more complex. When faced with a tricky section of platforming, colour-switching and hazard-avoiding, it’s wise to take a moment to stop and mentally plan out where the safe spaces are and how you’ll chain your abilities together to get to them.
All of that makes Kalimba sound much harder than it is. In the same way Nintendo structures its Mario platformers, this game cleverly makes you feel like your skills are constantly improving, because it introduces new mechanics and level ideas gently. Then, it tests your newly-learned skills with gradually more complex challenges. It’s a subtle trick; sometimes you’ll finish a stage having not quite realised how you managed it. And that’s unbelievably satisfying.
Dense, thoughtful level design is this game’s best asset, but it’s certainly helped by the understated beauty of the environments, slick animation and cheerful soundtrack – all of which bring us back to that Boosh influence. As if we weren't sold on ingenious platform game design already, those extra flourishes of playful postmodernism make Kalimba a cult classic in waiting.