Enter the labyrinthine realm of Kavalmaja; exit with only your wits as your weapon
In the world of casual games, many of the very best designers you can usually tell on sight. Like Mateusz Skutnik, the creator of the Submachine series, Tonypa is among this elite class. While he is not afraid to deviate from his signature, Tonypa games are often denoted by the stark contrasts of colors (or non colors as the case may be), and an almost secretive iconography. Aesthetically, his games are simple to the point of being wonderfully minimalistic, and can be deceiving when applied to the depth of his games.
To this end, Kavalmaja may just be a defining game for this talented designer, the stark, almost spartan, functionality of the graphics concealing a gameplay experience that continues expanding as you find yourself delving deeper.
The controls couldn’t be simpler. Simply navigate your little green icon using the arrow keys. No other buttons are necessary. But again, while the graphics and the controls are simple, you should not take that to mean that the game itself is simple.
Indeed, as Patrick from Jay is Games points out, a major portion of playing Kavalmaja is slowly learning the silent language that it offers. Each individual icon represents something new and different, and coming to understand what those icons means is more often than not a matter of trial and error. (Patrick gives some hints as to what some of the key icons represent. For me, I think the two that no gamer should approach without understanding is that the little green crosses up top represent your “health”, while the little yellow pound sign looking icons you can collect for points, and fifty are required to open the final portal).
You do eventually come to learn this language in the process of performing your ultimate goal; that is, you find yourself buried deep in a labyrinthine dungeon, and you must find your way out. In the course of doing so, you will come across hordes of hazards and puzzles that stand in your way.
Kavalmaja thus represents the exploration aspects of such games as the early Metroid and Zelda games, but adds in the kind of bird’s eye view puzzling found in such titles as the Adventures of Lolo. As you progress, your character will grow in ability and more paths will open up. But beware, as these paths open themselves to you, there is also a greater probability that you will find yourself stuck in a position you can’t get out of.
While I’ve played the game quite a bit, I’ve yet to finish it, so be warned.
As far as drawbacks go, it’s really hard to find any. Other than the fact that the game will prove to be difficult for many (myself included), it’s just difficult to find any faults with the game. There’s absolutely no story line needed, and in fact, hardly any words at all, but then, none are really needed. As mentioned above, the game has its own language, and learning that language is part of the fun. Likewise, while there’s no story, there is no need for one since your objective is plainly obvious, and the motivation is stoked by your own curiosity.
So, no, no drawbacks to speak of. That’s not to say that if you don’t like the game, there is something wrong with you, but… if you don’t like the game, there just may be something wrong with you.