Not so calmly
Kami is a game based on origami, the ancient art of paper-folding. It asks you to solve colour and pattern based puzzles, unifying many colours and patterns into one. Originally released on iOS, the PC version of the game has you pointing and clicking towards that goal. As with all puzzle games, Kami is supposed to be a mellow and calm experience,with just enough frustration to keep you going to the next puzzle.
Initially, Kami appears to be a very simplistic game, both visually and mechanically, but there can be beauty in simplicity. The menus are a bit small to read at native resolution – a task that becomes impossible in windowed mode. In the actual puzzles, however, the game shines. The colours of the construction paper are vibrant and the paper itself is photorealistic. The animations are sleek; individual pieces flip and fold into the selected colour. The most satisfying aspect of Kami is when a large group of pieces, or even the entire puzzle, changes in a kaleidoscope-like effect. These effects become less appealing when puzzles switch from colour-based to patterns. They look as though they came straight out of a Gameboy game.
There are only three ways a puzzle can end, with a score of Great, Okay, or Fail. A score of Great will be achieved when the number of changes comes in at or below the limit. Okay is achieved when the player changes the puzzle one more time than the given allowance, with failure meeting the player after any more turns. The ability to complete the puzzle, regardless of exceeding the change limit, would have been appreciated. Instead you are greeted with a sad musical twang and a sticker of shame. Thankfully, puzzles do not have a time limit, you are free to ruminate on the level for as long as you need to. Should you become stuck, a hint system can jump-start your progress at the expense of three “hint points”, however, having to reset the puzzle to use this feature renders it useless if you require immediate help.”
Musically, Kami has all the sounds of a Chinese restaurant; you can almost hear people shouting at each other in hushed yet unfamiliar tones in the background as you attempt to enjoy your meal. Sadly there isn’t much to go on about in the audio category, as the one song that plays shuts off as soon as you enter into your selected puzzle. Sounds are strong and effective; you can almost feel the paper turning in your hands the thickness of the construction paper is conveyed well in the audio. Other than the sounds of the paper there is nothing, no music to keep the player motivated or convey some emotion while they try to solve the puzzle. A pity.
Despite it’s zen-like appearance, and peaceful trailer, Kami is not an easy game. You would be forgiven for thinking that this game was created by ninjas as a diabolical torture device. Kami can be beautiful, but it’s more difficult puzzles could trigger a descent into madness. In the end this is a game about frustration and triumph, satisfaction brought about by the passing of a new puzzle. This is not a game for people expecting an immersive experience. Kami is a game built from the ground up to be played quickly and then left to set. It is a decent puzzle game – if a little forgettable. If you are hard-up for a game to vex your brain, and can overlook a few missteps this could be a great experience. At $4 it’s worth a look