Available on PC
Karma Incarnation 1 may be the trippiest games I’ve ever played. The art is a stunning backdrop to what essentially is a simple point-and-click adventure game with a twist. Note that I said simple – not easy. In fact some of the puzzles in this game are so challenging that the frustration they caused dimmed the game’s beauty for me a bit.
Karma has no dialogue, but from what I can gather, it’s about a little black blob attempting to reach what I think is Nirvana. It’s definitely more of a metaphor than a straight-forward telling. Along his or her journey, this little black blob encounters lots of odd creatures who can help. But the black blob has to do things to help them first. That’s my interpretation. Just like the games from ThatGameCompany, this game is so different, I think it would be easy for everyone to have their own interpretation.
Karma is a point-and-click adventure game. Meaning you don’t really have to have any reflexes to play as you simply click on things to activate them. This genre is full of fairly boring games, but Karma has a unique mechanic built in. You can activate what the developers call “astral sight” around you. And as you move through the world with this activated you can see the auras of other beings and things you might not be able to see otherwise. Many of the puzzles involve switching the astral sight on and off in order to complete them. It’s a fun take on what might otherwise be a generic adventure experience.
And then there are the puzzles. I’m always up for a good challenge, but some of the puzzles in this game are very difficult and frustrating. You can get a hint from your little black blob, but it’s rarely very helpful. In many of the puzzles I spent a lot of time aimlessly wandering around before I stumbled on the solution. Some times those solutions seemed a bit nonsensical, which took away from the satisfying “aha” moment of solving them.
Usually the only thing to say about the art in a game is how good it is. I rarely ever call it out in my reviews, but I have to here. This game is beautiful. Trippy, but beautiful. It looks kind of like an album cover from the 60s. The use of the psychedelic colors and contrast of the black character make for a striking set of visuals. Activating the astral sight, only enhances everything. As I entered each new area, I had to stop a moment and just take in the beauty. It’s so beautiful in fact, that my daughter really wanted to sit with me while I played. She kept asking me about things on the screen, and honestly sometimes they were so abstract, I didn’t have a good answer.
Karma hasn’t been rated by the ESRB. The content is pretty vanilla, mostly because it’s so abstract. Even through there’s no reading involved, the puzzles are difficult enough that it’s likely young kids wouldn’t be able to play on their own.
Karma is a journey through a gorgeous world. The psychedelic visuals and interesting character designs make it stand out in the crowd of point-and-click adventure games. Even with the frustration some of the puzzles muster, it’s still an experience worth taking a look at.