Adventure game Koi is all about fish, but it didn’t satisfy my fish fetish
Chinese game about a traveling fish gets new release on Steam
I'm going to be a weirdo now and admit something: I really like fish. I love watching them at aquariums and fish markets. I like them steamed, cooked, grilled, and made into sashimi. I actually considered getting a fish tattooed on my body. This is why I was probably the only person who was excited about playing a game about fish.
Koi, produced by Chinese game studio Dotoyou, follows a fish on a mission. It was actually the first game made entirely in China that went out on PlayStation 4 back in 2016. It also appeared as a mobile game on iOS and was released on Steam again recently.
I expected the game to be tranquil, mesmerizing and zen -- after all Koi is a type of decorative carp found in Japanese gardens. But it turned out a bit too tranquil for our taste, even for a fish-lover like me. This, for instance, was already one of the more exciting moments, and it featured… another fish. (To be fair, it was a big black, scary-looking fish.)
Dotoyou says Koi is about saving the environment from man-made pollution. People have compared it to a crossover of the early stages of Spore and Flower. Now I'm gonna reveal my age because I actually played those games when they went out about 10 years ago -- and sorry, Koi is definitely no match for them despite its pleasingly soothing aesthetics and great music scores.
Our fish's mission was to track down other small fish and lead them to their corresponding lilypads -- braving currents, evil fish, and exposed electricity lines.
At first, I thought I could see myself spending the afternoon on some mindless pond frolicking – but then came the puzzles… and worse, they were puzzles that seemed to be made for 7-year olds.
The game was actually quite short; but the puzzles were random and boring enough to make us feel like it was dragging on forever. Now, I'm not saying that games about fish need to be particularly gripping -- most people like watching fish because they don't do much. But Koi seemed like a missed opportunity.
The creators wanted to tell a story about the beauty of nature and returning home: Raising koi fish is actually a tradition full of symbolism. Instead, we ended up with a pseudo-mindful journey into fish heaven through a portal that resembles that trippy scene from 2001: A Space Odyssey. We turned into space fish and traveled the universe. It would be poetic if it wasn't ridiculous.
Overall, the game mechanics were quite smooth but we did experience some slight problems with orientation and controls. This may be because the game was redesigned for mobile.