I recently finished Kavalmaja by Tonypa. It’s an puzzle-adventure game that I first played about a year and a half ago. I had probably spent 30 minutes with the game, getting deeply involved with it. Something interrupted me and got sidetracked and never went back to it. It was bugging me that I never finished it — so I did. And it was worth it.
The game of Kavalmaja is a well thought out dungeon. The goal is to collect all of the “gold pieces” in the dungeon, acquiring abilities along the way to progress further along in your journey. The game is presented in an abstract fashion, requiring you to move around and touch stuff to see how it reacts. As you interact with the world you learn what its symbols and colors mean. So an area you passed through earlier will have a different meaning later on. It ends up playing similar to a Zelda game but there’s something special about its abstract nature. In a Zelda game it’s clear that if there’s a cracked wall you need a bomb to get through it, the world of Kavalmaja the connections aren’t that obvious.
It requires trial and error. I liked that about it, but felt it can be a problem sometimes. There’s a couple parts that require you to “die” to collect your gold pieces. I think that’s just one of the laws of game design, to never require the player to die. This kind of bugs me but it’s not as bad as preventing you from progressing through the game — you can’t get stuck. And given all the situations where you could possibly get stuck, it’s an amazing feat that Tonypa managed to make it work out as smoothly as it is. He said it took a long time to test all the possible positions and conditions. And I believe it.
I’m iffy about Flash game adertisement and the ads in this game really got to me. You see an ad every time you die, and that can be frequently when you get stuck somewhere. As frustrated as I got, seeing that Mucinex commercial over and over again, I was compelled to keep playing the game. I needed to solve the puzzle. So if a lame commercial can help support developers like this in making well-made games, maybe they aren’t so bad.
I had to resort to searching the jayisgames, walk-through thread for a solution to one of the puzzles in the game — the one with the teleporting rooms. I felt dumb that I didn’t figure out, but I also believed that he could’ve made a clue to make it a bit more obvious. I missed the one detail that would’ve help me figure it out. It might not be too bad to have a puzzle this difficult in the game given how easily one can find solutions on the net. It’s good to be stumped every now and then.
I’m just writing this because I think it’s a great and solid game. Even though it’s a Flash game from last year, it’s definitely one of the best games I’ve played this year. It’s inspired me to do an action-adventure puzzle game. And to think outside the box, maybe even a bit abstract.