KOI Review

If you've played Flower, it's impossible not to think of that game during the opening moments of Koi. Koi features simple colorful graphics, a serene location that is set in a lily pond, and an environmental theme that has you restoring flowers to full bloom by leading like-colored fish to each bud. It soon becomes apparent, though, that the one thing that these two games do not share in common is sound game design.

The first few levels are essentially the same - find a fish, lead it to the flower of the same color. Just in case you have trouble grasping this concept, the game displays a large arrow directing you where to go to find each fish and flower. When the game finally introduces some new puzzle elements they are generic and feel simply slapped onto the game. A game of Simon is played with leaves on a branch that light in a sequence that must be repeated for three rounds - the rounds go up to a sequence that is seven long, the game makes you start over from the first round on any mistake, and it changes the sequence each time you have to start over. A rotating block puzzle pops up at another time. Or you're hurried down a stream without any idea if you're supposed to be doing anything other than flowing with the current. You get a star rating at the end of the sequence so you must be expected to do something. That's followed by a stealth sequence in which you must avoid the vision cones of evil fish. And so it goes - no creativity, no progression, no continuity, and, as a result, no fun.

KOI screenshot 8

The game adds collectible pick-ups to each level which either help your star rating at the end or help you to build a small puzzle that has a picture that's supposed to convey what passes for a story here. There's not much challenge to finding these - they are inevitably scattered around the edges of the playable area and can all be found if you simply bother to take the time to do a circuit of the level. I suppose the idea is to add an incentive to return to the levels to earn a complete rating for each one, but honestly the levels aren't that interesting in the first place and there's no real motivation to return to them to poke around the corners looking for a puzzle piece.

What relaxation that you might have gotten from watching fish in a pond will more than likely be overcome by the game's soundtrack. It's a simple piano score that was probably intended to relax, but the notes sound like the keys are being hit with all of the subtlety of an eight year old playing Chopsticks and the resulting effect is quite the opposite.

Koi looks nice enough, but the only other thing going for it is that it can be finished within a couple of hours. Yes, in this case that's a good thing.

Final Rating: 50% - Koi fails to entertain or relax.


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