Review: KOI (PS4)

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Title: KOI
Format: PlayStation Network Download (983.5 MB)
Release Date: April 19, 2016
Publisher: Oasis Games
Developer: DoToYou
Original MSRP: $9.99 (US), €9.99 (EU), £TBD (UK)
ESRB Rating: E
PEGI: 3
KOI is exclusive to PlayStation 4.
The PlayStation 4 download version was used for this review.
A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review purposes.
PS Nation Review Policy

Gameplay:
Peace. Calm. Tranquil… A HUGE SCARY RED-EYED FISH! My kids jumped and screamed, shocked at the sight of the menacing creature that disturbed such a relaxing and serene game. After I stopped laughing at their surprise, I took the controller from them and continued as they ran off to play.

A simple premise lies beneath the surface of this odd little game; finding and matching the same colored fish with the corresponding flowers. When you get a matching fish and flower it blossoms and they glow brightly, the fish leaves your side and is now home. This leads to the next area opening up or the level ending.

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Collecting little white stars and puzzle pieces adds a small amount of exploration in this very linear experience that tells a predictable tale through a few lines of text and level locations. The rewards for finding these don’t add up to much and my usual compulsive tendencies were mostly kept at bay.

Matching fish and flower isn’t all you will be doing in KOI. There are a few frustrating puzzles to solve in each level, the Simon Says leaf matching puzzle being a particularly annoying one. They strangely seem at odds with the flow of this game and aren’t fun in the slightest.

… A memory of early Flash games …
Visuals:
You look down onto the surface of a tranquil pond. Simple brightly colored fish of varying sizes swim in the clear and peaceful water. The only thing that disturbs the stillness are ripples cascading outward from unseen droplets.

The simplistic and sparse look early on in the game helps to belie a serene and uncluttered experience. It is only when you venture further on that you begin to notice a distinct ineptitude in the visual department. A memory of early Flash games washes over my prefrontal cortex and leaves behind the bitterness of being cheated.

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Audio:
The music is enjoyable and helps to sell the visual con. Like a hustler swapping a masterpiece with a forgery as you’re plied with reasonably priced champagne. Nothing that amazes mind you, I would not go out and hunt for the soundtrack.

Online/Multiplayer:
This game is singleplayer only with no online component.

… a little dull …
Conclusion:
KOI is a very slow experience that forces you to play annoying puzzles that disturb the peaceful game like a boulder dropped in a pond. It tells a predictable tale in a plodding and repetitive way. Maybe others will find the beauty in this game, I however cannot shake the feeling of being fleeced.

I seem to have lost any small amount of enjoyment and desire to see the game through to the end. Other reviewers might find a profound juxtaposition that speaks volumes about our place in the world. I just found it a little dull. Some games are just pure fun, others are thought-provoking, and on a rare occasion, both. I’m sorry to say, KOI seems to be none of those things.

Score:
4.5

* All screenshots used in this review were taken directly from the game using the Share functionality on the PlayStation 4.

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