Now this is crazy stuff! Karma. Incarnation 1 is a psychedelic point and click adventure game. REALLY psychedelic, I don’t even know how to explain the plot, but it is about a light creature that lives in space and is in love with another light creature. Someday, a dark creature kidnaps the love interest of our hero and hides it in a mysterious planet. Our hero seeks help from a god-like creature that sends him to the planet, incarnated as a black ball-like creature. Ok, now you must be thinking “WTF DUDE???”, and yeah, I thought exactly that when I started playing it. Looks like an alien Double Dragon story!
The artwork is awesome, thanks to guys in Auralab.Ltd! The game won lots of awards! You can’t deny its psychedelic originality. Psychedelia is not a common thing in video games. Maybe because it is really hard to think of a game design that brings this kind of art with a gameplay together. Karma. Incarnation 1 accomplished that by being simple and making the narrative stand out. The game attempts to bring the player to a new universe first and foremost, not to a complex scenario where you won’t advance without figuring out the game mechanics first. Just walk around and do what it has to be done, even if you don’t know what is happening.
In order to shift our attention away from this lack of gameplay, the game tries to be perfect in every other aspect. Even in the darkest moments, the game is incredibly vivid, with NPCs walking, talking and dancing among the other ones. The soundtrack, like the graphics, is unique and fits the game very well, varying from slow tempo music to tribal-like style.
In Karma. Incarnation 1, the gameplay is based on just walking and action. Most of its adventures are focused on finding items and using them in the right location and/or a set of actions (talk, touch, listen etc…) for solving problems. First, because the game doesn’t have any text. All the conversations are based on images. Second, because the game is totally driven by the narrative, there’s no way to “lose”. In the begining of the game, the player will learn it is possible to make choices for how to interact with some situations and the result will modify the player’s body, as well as some interactions with NPCs.
But the way to reach the end of the game is the same. <SPOILER ALERT> Sadly, you cant finish the game being totally evil (you know when you are really evil when you have cool looking red horns) and worst, you’ll be send to the begining of the game to try to solve ALL the situations again… as a nice guy </SPOILER ALERT>. That’s the problem with the game: it is too linear, too stuck to the narrative that even when the player has choices it doesn’t even matter for the rest of game, even when you punish someone who is evil. Besides the linearity, the puzzles are too easy, since the gameplay is focused on finding items and giving them to specific NPCs. Finding these items is usually an easy task, as every important item is evident on the screen. Using these items is even easier since everything is automated: you can’t give the wrong item to an NPC or accidently lose it. To be fair, there are other 2 kinds of interactions: one triggered by pressing the mouse button and moving it to a especific item and another that is a timed click event.
- Fantastic graphics
- Great Soundtrack
- Repetitive puzzles
- The narrative is too linear (what’s the purpose of having more than one choice if you can only finish the puzzles in only one way?)