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Tengami takes to the pop-up papercraft ocean at PAX East

I tap a cherry blossom, an act that brings my character to life.

The next thing that I need to do isn't immediately clear, but here's the thing: You have to treat Tengami like a book.

I'm sitting in front of an iPad on the PAX East show floor, playing a level. The developers at Nyamyam are showing it off at the show for the first time.

So I hesitate, just taking it all in.

Everything on screen screams papercraft, and I know there's a clue there. Designer and co-founder Jennifer Schneidereit tells me the developers spent over a year figuring out the physics behind pop-up books that would make the game work in real life like it would in the game.

I've already opened the book using a swipe gesture to turn the page. But now what?

"In Tengami, the atmosphere is very important," Schneidereit says. "Think of it as a gentle exploration of this folding world around you. It's very much a game that you play at your own pace."

So the pressure's off.

I'm scanning the screen, taking in the blue, white and aquamarine papercraft world when I notice a little glowing orb on the screen. As I focus on it, I see something else, too: The area just around the orb is a shade or two different than its surroundings. For some reason, I'm thinking about the G.I. Joe cartoon from my childhood. Every time a rock was about to give out, it was shaded just a bit differently. That's when I realize I've got it.

I tap, hold and swipe. My adventure has begun.

Over the next 10 minutes, I double-tap to move my character across the screen, zero in on the intermittent orbs and swipe to unfold new paths for my character to traverse.

Like the papercraft world, the puzzles in Tengami fold in on themselves. After a couple of swipes in the first puzzle, which is marked by little glowing portals, I manage to fold myself back into the beginning.

I hesitate.

"The idea is that it's like a bookmark," she says. "It transports you to different bookmarks that were set."

That's when it clicks. I return to the second stage of the puzzle and head to the northern orb that I ignored the first time.

I move on.

The next puzzle is multi-staged. I can see my destination in the distance, but I've got to traverse and fold horizontal columns of paper as I make my way through. The first puzzle taught me how this would work, and I realize that the evolving complexity of the puzzles is something of a metaphor for the layers of paper I'm manipulating.

Tengami will include three levels - or chapters, if you think of it as a book. Each will have a season-based theme.

I fold and fold again, and I reach the cave.

"The idea is that it's like a bookmark. It transports you to different bookmarks that were set."

That's when I take to the ocean. It's calming, as I bob up and down in the pulpy paper ocean. There will be gameplay elements later, she tells me, but for now it's all about the sailing.

It's an experience, in other words. And as I reach the end of the level, I tap a cherry blossom. What had once brought my character to life now makes him disappear.

Now that he's gone, I want to know more. I ask about the main character, and his experience.

"We want people to think, 'What is it that I'm doing in this game? What is it that I'm seeing, and what do I feel?'and from these three elements, infer what the meaning of Tengami is."

Nyamyam hopes to deliver the experience to players this summer on iOS. Tengami will come to Windows PC and Mac at the end of the year.

The next level of puzzles.

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