+Graphically beautiful even for how simplistic the title is
+Gameplay offers a variety of gameplay types in a single title
+Collectible hunting is thoroughly enjoying
+A musical score that is enlightening and relaxing to listen to while playing
-Menus are hard to navigate as they do not highlight what the menu items are
When we think of Koi we think of their artistic uses, their beauty, and the fact they represent inner peace to a lot of people. We also think of the fact they are highly revered in many parts of Asia, which makes this title rather unique of a choice for China’s developer studio Dotoyou to release the game outside of China. With the console ban having been lifted last year, it’ll be interesting to see if we get more titles like this, but for now? This small indie title is more than enough to give some attention to the import market that seems to be making its way over seas.
As someone that’s always hard pressed to be entertained by indie games, I was taken back a bit when Koi was presented to me through our teams inbox. As I stared at the review code I was curious to more about this title. Sure I’d glanced over the press emails a few times, but I didn’t, at the time, feel that Koi would be hard pressed to grab the attention of many of our readers. After a short bit, I decided to boot up the PlayStation Store via my phone, enter the code, download, and sit down in front of my PlayStation 4 to see this title that had been sent to us. As an introduction to Dotoyou’s title Koi, I was introduced to it by a very simple appearance at first, the title screen was warm, welcoming, and quite easy to take in. Once entering the main menu? Well that was a task of its own, but after a few minutes of trial and error? I found myself being introduced to this simple, artistically easy on the eyes, and musically warm welcoming title.
Dotoyou’s title is a charming one, one that greets us right from the start with the realization this game will seem rather simple, so much so that I’m surprised it’s not a tablet game instead, but it it’ll make do on PS4 thanks to titles such as Flower and Flow that show titles like this have a spot on home consoles. When starting to play, Koi is rather simple to begin. Players take control of an orange Koi who seems pretty happy in his or her home river, going under lotus blossoms is charming , but quickly turns into a puzzle as players will be hard-pressed to navigate to missing Koi that will be required to open each one, and through them activating a piece of the musical score is rather charming as each fellow koi opens a lotus blossom. After a short while? The game begins to take a different pace as black, much larger, and rather angry koi begin to take over the streams.
As they do players will find that this game is no longer just about finding their friends, but also trying to survive in a much more brutal setting. One that requires patience, resilience, and the ability to navigate patrol paths. As players get this down, the story begins to unwind itself as the music grows darker, settings begin to change, and the evident story underneath the pages reveals itself. While the game seems to be about a koi surviving in a world that is changing, the game isn’t just about that. Underneath it, the game expresses a very real problem for China, one that isn’t just about economics, population, but one that is evidently about China’s ongoing pollution issue. One that has left our digital friend in dismay as the world around him or her gets dirtier, harder to live in, and just purely more volatile than ever.
Koi – PlayStation 4 [Reviewed]
Publisher: Oasis Games
Price: $9.99 USD
Released: Available Now
As the game progresses puzzles will variate into “Simon Says”, grid based puzzles, and even a match making puzzle. While the difficulty in doing these seems like they should be evident; the challenge however isn’t, and it says the same through out the game. While this may be welcomed by some, those looking for a scale in difficulty won’t find it with this game as it is a game that seems to have been made for players of all ages. While some of the most innovative changes were subtle, they didn’t stick throughout the game nor did this ideology move to the overall title itself where players will find themselves scratching their heads as one of the levels offered up the ability to be taken backwards by water currents while others included avoiding the much larger back Koi’s that sought to eat the playable character. While the game does offer up collectibles, they’re not as overall hard to find as one would hope. Sure one or two hid under twigs and lotus blossoms, that was about as difficult as most of them managed to get. Unfortunately, the game is short, ranking in at roughly 4-5 hours at tops depending on if you are treasure hunting or not. For those looking for a short exploration through some very real problems in China and around the world? This is a game that is creative, beautiful at every bit you could expect of it.
Our review is based on a copy provided to us by the games publisher. For information about our ethics policy please click here.
Final Score: 7 out of 10
About the Writer:
Dustin is our native console gamer, PlayStation and Nintendo reviewer who has an appetite for anything that crosses the boarders from across the big pond. His interest in JRPG’s, Anime, Handheld Gaming, and Pizza is insatiable. His elitist attitude gives him direction, want, and a need for the hardest difficulties in games, which is fun to watch, and hilarity at its finest. You can find him over on Twitter, Google+, and or you can find him on PSN with RaivynLyken.