Kalimba (PC) Review

By Thom Compton 01.05.2016

Review for Kalimba on PC

Since Braid and Portal, puzzle platformers have become a staple of modern gaming. It makes sense, as the whole process is very formulaic. Teach the player something, and then build on it. Unfortunately, it also requires the invention of devious puzzles to keep the player's attention, so the question is: how long can Kalimba succeed at that?

Kalimba follows the tradition of so many puzzle platformers, and is an exercise in teaching and expanding. The game begins by teaching the core mechanic—in this case, that the player must control two characters at once. Each moves when the other one does, and each is a specific colour, either green or purple. The game's expansion on this formula manages to be both deep and rudimentary.

There are green and purple barriers throughout, and only the corresponding colour character can pass through. Learning when to switch between the two characters is very important, and can often be a matter of split-second decisions. Kalimba relishes in this schism, the fight between purple and green, and yields mixed results.

Kalimba is a series of tests that don't quite have the balancing needed to be consistently engaging. Each level begins by extending the basic concept of swapping the character positions, and slowly introduces a new way the mechanic can be used. Unfortunately, about a third of the way into most levels, the puzzles suffer from an inconsistency that is not only noticeable, but hindering. Being stuck on a tricky puzzle, then finding the remainder of the puzzles to be retreads of earlier efforts, is enough to break immersion entirely. The lack of a steady difficulty won't be noticeable to everyone, however, for those gamers who do spot it, it is jarring, and ruins the overall flow.

Screenshot for Kalimba on PC

Artwork can make a tedious game worth exploring, and Kalimba definitely doles out pretty aesthetics. More a collection of triangles and trapezoids beautifully laid into a tapestry that forms every fiber of the screen, the artwork is absolutely stunning. Almost like tribal African artwork with a touch of American character types, every visual inch of Kalimba is a gorgeous sight.

There's a story here, but it's nothing to write home about. The cast of characters is limited to player characters and a monkey in sunglasses. Fortunately, there is a lot of depth elsewhere. A co-op mode, and additional, harder levels, function to extend the life of gameplay outside the main single-player story. They open up the possibilities for the completionist to explore, and the co-op campaign is really enjoyable. It still suffers the same faults as the single-player campaign, but going through with a buddy is fun enough to see it through to the end.

Screenshot for Kalimba on PC

Cubed3 Rating

Rated 7 out of 10

Very Good - Bronze Award

Rated 7 out of 10

Difficulty is hard to review, and most of Kalimba's issues stem from poor balancing. Running into devious sections only to find the follow-ups to be almost rudimentary is jarring. Fortunately, the core mechanic is very enjoyable. While Kalimba could have spent more time under the microscope, the interesting mechanic and beautiful visuals should be enough to convince even the most dismissive PC gamer that there's much more to explore here, and, for that, Kalimba should be applauded.


Press Play


Microsoft Game Studios


2D Platformer



C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  7/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date None   Australian release date Out now   


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