Top Critic Average
I think it’s an absolute tragedy that Koi is all-but guaranteed to be lost among everything else that’s available on the PlayStation 4. It’s a smart, genuine little game, with soul and a story to tell, and wraps it within one of the best examples we’ve seen to date of serenity as a play concept.
With its soothing overall look and feel, Koi isn’t likely to appeal to those who prefer their games gritty, dark, or driven by intense stories. For fans of a more casual sort or those who just want a break, though, it fills its niche very well. The exploration aspect means there’s plenty of time to waste searching the pond for secrets, and the relatively stress-free play offers a respite from more demanding games.
Koi is peaceful, smart, and minimal, showing the cleansing journey of a special koi fish working against the odds and the forces of filth and darkness. Simple, but short, Koi is a refreshingly fun casual game that feels like a true video game without losing any of the casual qualities that make up the genre. If you’re an angry gamer, human, or just someone needing a break, Koi is worth a try.
Koi comes close to being a remarkable indie title. The audiovisual design work is incredibly cohesive, and despite the gameplay simplicity, it does enough to keep your attention for its short play time. Koi’s issues lie with the weak delivery of its environmental message that unfortunately highlights the shortcomings found in such a simple game.
Dotoyou should be applauded for developing the first game released on the PlayStation 4 in the Western market. However, the experience feels half-baked at times. The soundtrack is breathtaking but at the same time, the repeated chorus portions drag on way too long. Collecting puzzle pieces completes paintings that tell a story, but I never had the drive to find them all. There are unlockable koi to replace the original orange colored one, but I just don’t think it is a journey that I would want to experience more than once.
Koi is at its best in the brief interludes between fish and flower, when you're simply inside this environment doing what fish do best. That's where the gameplay and small environments rip you from the edge of tranquility to be ushered into the next area, and also where this experience falters heavily.
Koi is a beautiful but shallow pool. The first impression is strong but as you go on into the game it quickly becomes clear there just isn't much below the surface. The puzzles, story and gameplay are "barely there" enough to work, but without much that develops from the basics. As an experience, it's enjoyable enough, if over a bit too quickly, but as a game, it's pretty lackluster and tough to justify the price tag. It's a shame since there's a lot of potential here, but Koi doesn't manage to realize it.
KOI is a game that knows how to push your buttons. It draws you in with its beautiful soundscape and enchanting premise, but then takes you through an often shallow experience with some frustrating moments that discord with its otherwise serene exterior. It's a game which seems far more suited to mobile play than console, where longer play sessions highlight its lack of depth. It has moments of beauty, and comments on larger, prominent ecological issues – but ultimately feels like a missed opportunity.
KOI relies more on its look and sound than its gameplay, and the overall lack of difficulty and the shortness of the game really makes it hard to justify buying for most PS4 owners.
Despite the feeling of catharsis I achieve when playing Koi, it still lacks many of the fundamentals that make a video game compelling. Add in the fact that the experience only lasts around two hours, and the result is a game that feels incomplete. Perhaps a future installment could add weekly downloads that would help players achieve peace on a daily basis without being repetitive.
KOI is a game that almost went somewhere. While it has a pleasing aesthetic, and peaceful ambiance, what’s on offer is woefully short. So the score earned here, for the first game developed in China and released for Western audiences on the PlayStation 4, should serve as a sign for any other developers in China to strive for something more. KOI stands as a good start, but with a bit more development time, we could have seen a longer story mode, and perhaps some sense of what was actually going on in the world above the little fish.
KOI is a pretty face with not much to offer beyond that. The gameplay has little substance to it, and it feels repetitive, even though the whole thing lasts less than two hours. It's a nice idea, but one that shows China's indie scene still needs time to develop.
I have no doubt that we will one day enjoy marvelous console games out of China. But this, sadly, isn't one of them, and it's lamentable to see this exchange begin on such an inauspicious note.
Koi is lovely to look at and listen to. It's also only an hour long, has pointless stealth mechanics, no consistency in puzzles, a nonsensical plot, and generally just feels like a totally empty game.