Indie Quickie: KAMI

It takes a lot longer to fully review a game than it does to get a good sense of what a game is. Even with a full-time staff of writers it would be impossible to fully review the thousands of games that are released every year. Indie Quickie is our way to offer snap impressions of the countless indie titles small teams and one-man game studios are releasing literally every single day, and to help guide players to worthwhile games they may not have heard about before.

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What is it? Named after the type of paper often used in the art of Origami, Kami is an elegant puzzle game about unfolding colored paper.

Who made it and where can you get it? State of Play Games, developer behind the adventure game Lume, delivers another illuminating game of papercraft beauty. Kami has previously been available on iOS and Android but is now out for PC/Mac on Steam at the low, low price of just $3.99.

How much did we play? I unfolded my way through 21 of 63 total puzzles in an hour’s time, completing 10 with a “Perfect” score and another 11 with a rating of just “OK.” I tried some of the tougher Premium puzzles, but didn’t find a whole lot of success so I’ll need to further hone my paper-puzzlin’ skills before taking those on again. According to the percentage tracker, I am at 24% completion.

Any technical concerns or hardware requirements you should know about? This paper has no tears or crinkles in it that I could see.

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Why should you play it?

    • Papercraft Puzzler: Kami takes the simple mechanics of a color-matching puzzle game and applies them to the great Japanese art of paper folding. Each puzzle presents you with a flat playing area made up of different colored pieces of paper woven together in various patterns, with tabs for each color of paper located along the bottom of the screen. Your objective is to fill the screen with one single color of paper within an allotted number of moves, where each move consists of selecting a color and applying it to an opposing color in the play area. When one color is applied to another, all adjoining, like-colored squares of paper are changed to the new color, blending in with any existing paper of the same color already on the mat. For a perfect rating, each puzzle must be completed within the set number of turns, but some leeway is given with an OK score for going one move beyond the limit. Anything after that results in failure, and the next puzzle will not be unlocked. The puzzles start out fairly simple, consisting of a few colors and needing only a few moves to solve; however the challenge picks up fairly quickly and before long you’ll be dealing with four or five colors and puzzles that require six or seven moves. Luckily, if you get hung up on a perplexing paper formation there is a hint system to help guide you along. It is not unlimited though—10 hint credits are available to use each day, but each use of a hint costs 3 credits.

    • Origami Therapy: From the moment the game boots up and the orchestral Japanese classical music kicks in, your mind becomes entranced in a zen-like state of relaxation. Even as the puzzle challenge increases, there are never any time limits or overly complicated mechanics to break the sense of calm, which in turn allows you to think through a puzzle without becoming rushed or frustrated. Visually, the game was also crafted entirely out of real paper. The vibrant colors really pop and the paper texture is so detailed it looks like you could almost reach through the screen and feel its surface under your fingertips. I only wish the music carried over from the menus to the actual gameplay, because unless something was going screwy with my headphones, every time I entered a puzzle the music turned off and I was left in complete silence. At least the flapping sound of paper unfolding is oddly relaxing in its own way. I’m reminded of the scene from the underrated Will Ferrell movie Stranger Than Fiction, in which the papers he’s filing make the sound of lapping waves in a deep and endless ocean. So. Soothing…

Parting Thoughts: Kami is exactly what a puzzle game should be. It’s smart, artistic, thoughtful, unique, and super simple for anyone to play while at the same time offering a fun, deceptive challenge to one’s spatial reasoning in an abstract sense of determining how to recognize the way changing one section of color will affect the surrounding colors and ultimately the entire paper formation. State of Play’s expertise in the handmade arts and crafts aesthetic certainly shines through once more as well, giving the game a distinct stylistic edge over other puzzlers. Puzzle game fans and paper crafters alike are in for a real treat.

About the Author

Matt Litten is the full-time editor and owner of VGBlogger.com. He is responsible for maintaining the day to day operation of the site, editing all staff content before it is published, and contributing regular news, reviews, previews and other articles. Matt landed his first gig in the video game review business writing for the now-defunct website BonusStage.com. After the sad and untimely close of BonusStage, the former staff went on to found VGBlogger.com. After a short stint as US Site Manager for AceGamez, Matt assumed full ownership over VGBlogger, and to this day he is dedicated to making it one of the top video game blogs in all the blogosphere. Matt is a fair-minded reviewer and lover of games of all platforms and types, big or small, hyped or niche, big-budget or indie. But that doesn't mean he will let poor games slide without a good thrashing when necessary!