It has been a great few weeks for puzzle apps on the iPhone, following the release of Cat on a Diet and Strata, both of which we’ve recently reviewed very favourably. The streak now continues with Kami, an unusual and often highly challenging game of logic, thought and colour matching.
Kami has been written by State of Play games, the developer responsible for Lume, a point-and-click adventure game for the iPad we reviewed way back in March 2012. Lume stood out not just because of its enchanting gameplay, but also because of its luscious looks, and although Kami isn’t anywhere near as visually complex, it still has a very distinct graphical style, and is equally as mentally challenging.
It won’t take us long to explain the basics of how to play Kami, as it’s really quite simple. The screen is covered by different colour blocks, usually arranged in a haphazard fashion, and the idea is to cover the whole screen with a single colour. You do this by changing one colour for another, using a selector at the bottom of the screen, until you’re all done.
However, you have a certain amount of moves in which to do this. If you complete the level inside this amount, you get a gold award, but if not, you get a silver one. Miss the target too badly and you’ll fail, meaning you’ll have to start again. Now, this all sounds not only quite easy, but also a little uninteresting. The good news is neither of these things are true.
The challenge with Kami is getting down to the minimum amount of moves needed to complete the level. Sometimes it’s quite simple, but as you progress they get fiendishly hard, requiring some lateral thinking to solve. It’s often not just about changing one colour and leaving it, but changing it several times, as it can create larger areas to block fill. Forward thinking is essential to pass these levels, and you can find yourself deep in thought for several minutes just staring at the puzzle before making a move.
When it’s time, you select your colour and tap the area where you want it applied. It then covers any connected area of one colour, but no more. You can see from the screenshots some levels are very complicated, and when you only have three or four moves to make, Kami becomes a real brain-teaser.
If you get stuck there’s a reset button to remove all your moves, and luckily there’s no penalty for using it, so don’t worry about either running out or having to pay for extra ones. There are 36 puzzles in total, with more promised in an update, and they’re challenging enough to keep you playing for several hours before needing more.
Graphically, Kami looks great, with its fun Japanese-style folding paper effect, and relaxing soundtrack. The audio suits the game perfectly, because it’s not about scoring points, beating the clock or anything like that. It’s more about taking your time to get the levels right, and there’s no pressure to do anything very quickly at all.
Kami is very enjoyable, despite its sedate pace, and I found myself opening up the game while waiting for friends to arrive, while held in a queue on the phone, or just to pass a few spare moments. There’s nothing particularly unusual about this, but as it often takes a while for a new game to become my go-to time-filler, it does Kami credit to have managed to do so in almost record time.
Kami is universal for the iPhone and the iPad, but it suits the smaller iPhone screen perfectly, and has been priced at a very reasonable £0.69. If you’re looking for a brain teaser which ignores most of the standard arcade game traditions from points to timers, and exists to make you think about your moves before you make them, then Kami is for you. Highly recommended.