Originally released exclusively for the iPad, developer Hello There has relaunched the Egyptian-themed puzzle game Khaba for iOS and Android mobile devices. Now players can partake in the mysteries of Khaba on the go. But are these mysteries worth exploring?
Khaba at first seems like a simple enough puzzle game. Using statuettes and mirrors, players reflect and direct a beam of light onto a door which leads to the next level. It is a simple and logical concept that would probably become boring after a while if not for all the little tricks and additions Hello There pulls off. There are other doors acting as obstacles in your path that can only be opened by directing light towards certain orbs. Some of these doors remain open, while others close up again if the direction of the light is changed.
A few levels in, another type of light is introduced as well: dark light. The beam of dark light can only be activated if the beam of sunlight continually hits a blue orb. Both of these kinds of light must be used in tandem to reach the final door, but there are a few conditions. There’s only a limited amount of reflecting statuettes and mirrors, and the dark light and sunlight cannot use these objects simultaneously. What at first seems like a simple game ends up offering a satisfyingly cerebral challenge as players have to test out different set ups and figure out in what order to open certain doors and other obstacles. Unfortunately for some, the sheer level of challenge might put them off. Khaba has a few tutorial levels followed by some levels with a fairly reasonable difficulty curve, but then suddenly ramps up the difficulty to a point that might end up causing a lot of frustration. A few levels definitely forced me to walk away for a bit and try to come back later with a different perspective. This isn’t exactly conducive to quick bouts of gaming on the go, but might appeal to someone looking for a hard puzzle when they have a meatier chunk of time available to them.
Besides its difficult and cerebral puzzles, what sets Khaba apart from a lot of mobile puzzle games is that it features a fully voic-acted narrative tied into the puzzle mechanic. Players take the role of Michael, an explorer seeking vast treasures and excitement within the pyramids. Mysteries abound as Michael ventures deeper into the pyramids, and it actually ends up being a neat little story. Besides small “cutscenes”, collectable scarabs are introduced which not only add another element of challenge to the puzzles, but also give up more tidbits of the overall narrative. These aren’t mandatory to collect, but offer an extra reward for players that find interest in the story. Probably my only nitpick story-wise is that Michael’s voice acting is a bit cheesy, but not so much that it really detracts from the game.
However, my biggest issue with the game is its touch controls. I have small hands and I still found myself getting frustrated when the game would misinterpret my finger touches and I would end up moving statuettes entirely when I just wanted to change the direction of the light beams. Certain parts also required an amount of precision that had me re-doing things so many times because objects would move when I lifted my finger up from the screen. This is mainly a problem with playing Khaba on a mobile device with a smaller screen though–playing the game on a tablet was significantly easier. Nevertheless, I found myself wishing there was also a desktop version as the idea of playing this game with a mouse really appeals to me.
So, while not for folks looking for a lighter puzzle game to play on short car rides or on quick breaks in between other obligations, Khaba does provide for folks looking for something with a little more substance in their mobile gaming needs. If you can get past the sometimes frustrating controls, Khaba is a real treat. The game is available for both iOS and Android tablets and mobile devices, and more information about it can be found on the developer’s website.
An Android review copy of the game was provided by the developer for that purpose.
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