‘KOI’ is Sort of Like ‘Journey’ with Fish

It seems like the more gaming evolves, the more stressful it gets. Gone are the day where you can zone out and chomp pellets or dodge barrels being thrown by a certain Kong. Now many games can feel like part time jobs with major deadlines. As such, it’s always nice when a gentle, peaceful game comes along that simply wants its user to relax. Much like Journey, Flower and Electroplankton before it, KOI is one such game and among the first of this console generation.

Coming from Chinese publisher Oasis Games, KOI follows the quest of a lone koi fish trying to find its way through a lotus pond. Taking the role of said koi, players will solve challenging puzzles that among other things recall the classic electronic board game Simon. With the help of other fish, the lotus pond can be explored and purified from its man-made pollution. While most of the pond is gentle, there are also elements of danger like raging currents, deadly predators and spiky barriers. This is all accomplished through beautifully minimalist visuals that enhance its tranquility, with the highlight being the night level that reflects the starry sky on the water and makes you feel as if you’re in outer space.

KOI is a difficult game to describe as it really is intended to be played first hand in an almost trance like state. Most of it concerns gently navigating the little koi around to bloom flowers as tranquil music plays in the background. There’s not a whole lot to do and it’s an experience that will only last a few hours, but still looks to accomplish its goal of simply relaxing players and letting them zone out from any stresses facing them in life. Even playing the game on the busy showfloor of GDC, my mind quickly gave way to its calming charm as I metamorphosed into a cute little orange fish.

KOI will be released exclusively for PS4 via PSN this spring. Be sure to check back soon for our full review.