KOI, at first glance, is a serene game with delicate, nearly child-like graphics. It is heavily-laden with the themes of light and dark, purity and corruption, and Yin-Yang. This game gently flows through the story line of single Koi fish set out to bring light and tranquility back to its pond. KOI made its Western debut for PlayStation 4 on April 19th, 2016.
KOI doesn’t quite hit the mark when it comes to such a lofty goal of conveying its compelling message. Small captions pop-up explaining what is going on in the little Koi world, but for the most part, every level is the same. You swim around, collect pixie fish to bring back to their correlating flowers, avoid black fish and overcome obstacles. It can be pretty monotonous even with the added elements of puzzles and memory games that lend nothing to the story. They are merely distractions.
Speaking of those memory games, I was thinking that this easy game would be better suited for children, until I was slightly stumped by the tree branch music mini-game. Remember the game, Simon? It’s kinda like that, only more difficult because there are seven different leaves, each one with a unique note that gets played in a sequence that you then have to replay. You cannot pass the obstacle until you get the sequence right. This was only a little challenging, but I figured out a work-around; I just assigned each leaf a number, then remember the number sequence instead. Basically, this game is very easy, but still poses an occasional challenge that would be too much for a young child. It probably wouldn’t hold the attention of an older child, though.
This is what I enjoyed the most. Although very simplistic by design, therein lies the beauty. It uses a vivid color scheme that was appealing and bright; then darker and murkier hues to denote a more polluted part of the pond. Both were visually stimulating.
I found the sounds and music very relaxing. Water drops falling were music by themselves, but had back-up from Chinese artist Zeta’s soothing and sometimes melancholy melodies.
In summary, I could only play this game in short increments. I’m not sure if it was because it lacked any real challenge, or if it was because I was lulled into such a relaxed state. Maybe it was a combination of the two.