- Beautiful visuals
- Great music
- Elegant and simple puzzle mechanic
- Repetitive solutions
- Frustrating difficulty spikes
Though it eventually outstays its welcome, Kiwanuka is a stylish game with an neat hook and elegant puzzles.
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Kiwanuka's title screen, with its beautiful geometric visual design and psychedelic soundtrack, sets the tone for the levels to follow. What isn’t immediately apparent is that this charming puzzler is built on a single, elegant gameplay mechanic that perhaps doesn't offer enough depth to support the weight of an entire game.
Cast in the role of a tiny wizard, you must use your magic to escort a host of followers across a series of 2D levels. Touching anywhere on the screen produces a stream of lightning from your staff. This power can be used to direct your group through the world by pointing it towards the ground. More impressively, however, the staff also allows you to form towers of people from the following crowd.
These towers of people are the solution to most of Kiwanuka’s problems. Once erected, these human constructions can be toppled in either direction. They will pivot around the lowermost member, spinning until the uppermost member of the tower connects with another surface to form a bridge, or collides with a magical rock and is broken apart.
At first, navigating the world making by rods of disciples is a wonderful feeling. Realising you need to swing your tower in the opposite direction to the one you intended, and watching as the people pole connects with that final platform makes you feel like a genius.
Unfortunately, as Kiwanuka progresses, you realise that the puzzles are fairly one note. You get into a groovy: swing through a gap, swing the tower backwards, rinse, and repeat. It all too quickly becomes a bit monotonous.
When the game does introduce new obstacles - such as rapidly moving blocks that break your tower apart - they feel slightly unbalanced with the core of the game, creating steep difficulty spikes. Once you hit the first wall - or simply grow weary of all the swinging - you might find yourself abandoning the game altogether.
For the most part, however, Kiwanuka is a novel and inventive puzzler which drenched in charm. Its audio and visual design will suck you in, while its people-powered puzzles should keep you enthralled for a good few hours.
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"Delightful" –– The Guardian • "A good surprise" –– New York Times • "Whimsical, magical, and enchanting" –– Touch Arcade • "A truly special game" –– Kotaku • "Amazing" –– TUAW • "Pretty, complex and deep" –– Pocket Gamer
Kiwanuka is an action-puzzle game with an entirely new game-mechanic designed uniquely for touch screen. Guide the tiny citizens, instruct them to build towers, knock the towers over to grab ledges, then use them as bridges to reach the exit. Success requires careful thought and perfect timing.
More media reviews:
"A brilliant, beautiful, unique experience. Everything from the sounds, visuals, and just the vibe of the game all come together to create one of the most interesting little games I’ve played." - Touch Arcade, 5/5 and Game of the Week
"An elegantly smart game." - Cult of Mac
"It’s nuts!" - IGN
"A hidden treasure." - SlashGear
"The game looks great." - Pocket Gamer
"In an increasingly-long line of delightful puzzle games on iOS, Kiwanuka is one of the best. It sees you guiding a colourful collection of characters to freedom using a glowing staff: like a neon-infused Lemmings built for touchscreens." - The Guardian