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Rescue a civilization of adorable citizens in the dreamy world of Kiwanuka

kiwanuka screens

The best word I can find to describe Kiwanuka is "abstract." This physics-based puzzle game is more demanding than many in the genre thanks to the all-or-nothing puzzle solutions and total abandonment of a hint system that has become commonplace in the App Store. From the cutesy characters to the strange music, you wouldn't think the various design decisions would work together, but they somehow do.

Kiwanuka means "God of Lightning," so it's fitting that a giant beam of electricity is your primary tool in the strange game world. With your powerful staff you must guide your followers safely from the start of each level to the goal at the end, at which point a new character appears that unlocks the next stage.

You control your group by moving the lightning bolt around the screen. Drag the beam off of the edge of a cliff and your followers will join you in jumping off the end. Drag it straight upwards and your followers will form a giant tower which can be toppled to the side to create bridges from one platform to the next. The mechanics are all very simple, but the puzzles themselves are definitely not.

kiwanuka screens

As you can imagine, the early levels are extremely basic but quickly ramp up in both length and complexity. Adding to the difficulty, large glowing sections of each level will instantly end your game if they are touched. It soon becomes a game of precision and tiny, deliberate movements are needed to prevent an untimely game over screen.

The game looks amazing with its flat textures and bright colors, and the fluid movement of your dozens of companions as they move about the screen is charming and eye-catching. A relaxing audio score fits the mood of the desolate environments while providing a bit of added tension to the already stressful puzzles.

Once you learn the tricks -- which, admittedly, can take a good deal of time on its own -- you'll likely speed through the game's 30 levels rather rapidly. There's no real scoring system or additional objectives, since each level has one solution and one goal, but what's here is a blast to play.

At US$1.99, it's a fantastic buy that will keep you smiling for at least a little while. I really hope some more levels are on the way, as there's essentially an infinite number of puzzles one could come up with for a title such as this, but we'll have to wait and see.

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