If the music had been more trippy, and less of a elevator muzak flow this could have been a game straight out of a hippie van in the sixties. Play Kalei is a kaleidoscope finding hidden object game that relaxes the brain, and send fountains of synapse joy to the core of your being, man. If there ever was a game that induced less rivalry when playing head to head, I have yet to find it. A distant giggle, a nudge and zero trash talk is what I have gotten playing against friends on the same iPhone. This is more relaxation than anything else, and quite frankly that is what I get out of most hidden object games. The difference is that in Play Kalei I have to find the spot in a picture that produces a specific kaleidoscope.
Play Kalei is a simple game at heart. Touching, and swiping across the image changes the kaleidoscope. Next to the one you are creating is the target, and once they match the segment of the level is clear. If you are moving too slowly the screen starts to dim around the edges, and an open spot is shrinking centered around the target. The more it shrinks the easier it becomes to pinpoint the target location.
The time it takes to complete a level determines the star rating you will get. Stars are used to unlock some of the harder levels. Most levels are unlocked by simply completing the level prior to it. This kind of straight progression works really well, as the challenge is more or less the same no matter what level you play. Finding the correct kaleidoscope is a matter of trial and error, and logical reasoning. Levels with a lot of contrast between objects are easier than those that are slightly murky. As the targets are random the game has a diversified difficulty that makes it all feels quite fresh.
The presentation in Play Kalei is functional, and limited to a static background, a static picture and the kaleidoscopes at the top. The character guiding you is not developed, and never becomes a truly integral part of the experience. I would rather have the game even more clean, and minimal. The music is not good, and somehow the typical elevator muzak feels really off. I would have liked to have some minimal ambient music going on much like in the Zen Bound series.
The game offers quite a lot of images, and even better is the fact that you can import or snap your own images to use. This gives the game an extra function, as the perfect game to let your kids get into. For online connectivity the game offers Crystal. To me this is such a small platform these days, and I would rather have had Openfeint or Game Center.
Play Kalei offers a new fresh take on the hidden object genre. The organic kaleidoscope idea is brilliant, and offers good fun. Most of all it offers a great way to zoom out, and just relax. This is also what limits the appeal as a game slightly, as the challenge isn’t progressive. In the end I recommend this as a great relaxing experience that works quite well as a local two player multiplayer game as well.
Play Kalei $0.99
Seller: Chillingo Ltd.