By Operation Rainfall Contributor / April 19th, 2016
|Release Date||April 19, 2016|
|Age Rating||E for everyone|
When developers take the liberty to give players a video game experience with little narrative, the outcome can either be very well realized or a confusing mess. Now enter Koi, the first Chinese developed PlayStation 4 title to be localized in the West by Oasis Games. This game presents an experience that has been missing from the current gen consoles for a long time; it creates a journey for players to be immersed in as they lose themselves in calm waters. However, with this comes some absent features that could potentially pull the game downstream.
Koi is puzzle-adventure game that puts the player in control of a lost fish. While on a quest to find its owner the player is tasked with guiding the koi through different puzzles and areas to heal the polluted waters. To do this you must collect others from your species. You then lead them to flowers which then bloom to release the “Light Fish”. Usually, these koi are contaminated by pollution which makes them shadowy creatures that will attack you and your fish followers on sight. These attacks only slow down your progress because there is no ‘Game Over’ screen, your fish merely recovers over a short period of time. It doesn’t matter if you are shocked or attacked; no fish were harmed in my playthrough of the game. The lack of enemy types could have been addressed because other than the shadow fish, the only threat comes from electrocution.
The areas presented throughout Koi are, simply put, wonderful. Exploring each map never felt repetitive or old. Each level presented a different way of finding a path to your fish companions and ultimately your owner. The developer also uses the maps to add more complexity to the puzzles, such as limiting your vision while being in polluted and dark waters or finding certain colored fish to unlock gates. The 8 levels all served a purpose in the story and all held secrets that benefit the players who like to search every nook and cranny. Scattered around the map are stars and jigsaw pieces. I have not yet found all the stars, so as of now they are simply there to add to the completion percentage. However, when all four puzzles pieces are found in an area you are granted a picture that further explains the story of Koi and how it all came to be.
The music in Koi is one of the most rewarding parts of the adventure. The score was composed by Chinese artist Zeta and playing the game with headphones provides a real treat for your earbuds. The music seems to be the driving force of immersion in Koi; every level features a background of water droplets and piano magic. There were moments when I would press pause and just take in the music.
I did have a few issues with Koi, one being its a lack of difficulty, but I can see that the developers were not trying to design a game to frustrate players or add stress to their lives. However, the choice to play the game on a harder setting would have been appreciated. Additionally, the menus are a little confusing as they are set up with pictures of symbols and no text explaining which option is “New Game” or “Continue”. This could be because the game was released on mobile first and it might make more sense to do that on a touch screen.
Koi is not the 40 hour RPG experience I am used to; it’s contained to about 2 hours and if you search for the collectibles it could take upwards to 4 or 5 hours. The gameplay time didn’t affect my review because Koi seemed to accomplish the story that it set out to tell in my first playthrough. Yes, there should have been a difficulty setting and more enemies, but the game is exactly what it wants to be; a relaxing experience. Players will discover the narrative on their own time, through beautifully designed levels, while being immersed by the game’s beautiful music . Now if only we can get Oasis Games to release the game on PlayStation Vita.
Review code was provided by the Publisher.
Koi will is available now on PlayStation 4 via PSN. The retail price is $9.99 USD but it is 40% off for PS Plus members until Apr 26.
Chinachinese developeddotoyoukoioasis gamesPlayStation 4PSN