Casual Corner: Kami

We know how it is. You worked hard for your 10:1 KDR, but sometimes, you just want to take five, relax, and enjoy a quick game on your phone. Unfortunately, finding good games is anything but quick – most mobile gems end up buried under a mountain of trash. But like we said, we know how it is, so every month we shine a spotlight on a great diversion to get you through the work week.

Mobile gaming means different things to different people, but perhaps the most ubiquitous genre on handheld devices these days is the puzzler. It’s a side of gaming instantly familiar to players who grew up with games like Tetris and Dr. Mario, but also easily accessible to newer gamers because of the often more cerebral and forgiving nature of the games’ mechanics and design. Kami, developed by State of Play Games, is a particularly noteworthy puzzle game that offers an escape from the sensory overload of everyday life while challenging its players with colorful, creative brain teasers.

Meaning ‘paper’ in Japanese, Kami is all about folding. Players are presented with puzzles comprised of multiple colored sections of paper, with the goal of filling the screen with a single color in as few moves as possible. It’s a simple premise, matched wonderfully by a clean, minimalist aesthetic of vibrant colors and imperfect paper, making Kami an inviting prospect for anyone with a smart device. State of Play Game’ creation is beautiful, completely committed to its papery nature, and it wears its Japanese influences on its sleeve.

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Folding is controlled by simply tapping a square of paper, unleashing a wave of color that engulfs the selected section in your whichever color you chose. The solutions to each puzzle are often deceptively simple, and yield immense satisfaction after you finally find the correct sequence. Identifying the proper color and order of moves is often a case of trial and error, but thanks to a speedy reset function there’s no punishment for any mistakes. There’s also a handy hint system for players who find themselves particularly puzzled by the papery plotting of Kami. Your purchase of the game comes with 5 free hint credits, but you’ll have to pay for more if you exhaust them. They’re far from necessary, however, and I personally preferred to ignore them.

In fact, Kami is only as easy or challenging as you want to make it. Each level bears a specific number of moves players can strive to complete the puzzle in, but Kami doesn’t punish you for missing that goal. Players looking to snag a ‘Perfect’ rating on each puzzle will find a hefty challenge in store, especially as they begin to encounter the game’s later levels, but those searching for a simple, soothing, and mildly difficult mobile experience will also find it in Kami.

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The calming sounds of shamisen, shakuchachi and harp greet players at the menu, welcoming them to a tranquil environment free of the stress and din of daily life. But even those sounds melt away when you begin a puzzle, however, making way for the gentle sounds of folding paper. Kami is perhaps best played with a set of noise-cancelling headphones, so one can truly enjoy the serenity it offers.

Kami‘s design is clean, calculated and free from distractions, and for $1.99 you’ll get immediate access to 45 increasingly difficult puzzles. If you find yourself craving more, State of Play Games has also produced a few sets of themed DLC, extending the experience while treating your eyes and brain to enticing new visual design and fiendish puzzles.