The Xbox One is a decent console. Really, it is. There’s some great games on it, the controller’s the best on the market right now and all around it’s just a solid machine. It’s not perfect, sure, but it’s not bad. I bring this up because Xbox One puzzle platformer Kalimba is limited to local co-op only — and for once I don’t know enough other people who own Xbox Ones that I can consider this a huge flaw. That and local co-op can be outrageous fun, if you have the right people in the room.
Kalimba has you controlling a pair of totem pole segments simultaneously and tasks you with reaching the end of a level while grabbing goodies on the way. Your totem segments are killed if they touch an obstacle that doesn’t match their color, so you’re going to need to carefully manage both characters and swap them as needed to stay alive.
The levels are your typical puzzle platformer brain-melting fare. The color-coordinating mechanic isn’t new; we’ve seen it before with games like Ikaruga and Outland, and it’s used to much the same effect here. The most unique mechanic on display is the bonus objective to complete each stage while collecting every item and without dying; if you like bashing your head against a wall, well, here’s your game. Kalimba’s not especially difficult unless you’re trying to manage this feat and achieve completion.
As for that local co-op…well, I mean, it’s still a flaw, especially on a platform that essentially created online console play. Local-only co-op is in vogue now, but it isn’t a “design decision” – it’s a failure to implement online play. Sorry, devs, you can only spin that one so far. But if you can manage to drag someone into assisting then it can shake the game up a little, particularly since the co-op levels are all new. Having someone right there next to you makes coordination easy enough, but it’s nothing that couldn’t be done over voice chat.
Again, though, the lack of online play isn’t a killer because the odds that you know someone who owns both an Xbox One and this game are going to be fairly low. Kalimba isn’t going to change your world. However, if you’re somehow hurting for a puzzle platformer in this post-Braid world where every indie developer is trying to Kickstart one, it’ll fill the void well enough.