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Tuesday, November 14, 2023

KarmaZoo Review: You Have To Be Good!

By Jonathan Bilski
Zooooo!!!! That's the disembodied voice beckoning you to play KarmaZoo, the game you're reading about. You can tell from the many different ways the voice says ," Zooo,!" that the game has a very playful side. KarmaZoo is a fun game to play, if you can find others to play it with. And, you'll need at least one other human being or some sort of animal connected to sensors playing it on Twitch for the game to start.

So..., lots to explain for something that looks relatively cute and simple. KarmaZoo allows you and up to 9 others to work together platforming and solving puzzles across four levels with a cute starting area to get acquainted. The levels greatly changed in the multiple play-throughs a friend and I made it through. 
Let's explain the name of the game:

Karma comes from the co-operation you earn in the form of hearts from helping out your fellow players with different tasks during gameplay and completing levels. Heck, you can even shoot a heart and someone you like, if you have any hearts.
Zoo, comes from you being able to purchase different animals/objects you can play as through a playthrough. You can be a koala or a cat or a lantern. There's a lot of points, er, uh, hearts or "Karma" you'll have to earn to unlock them. Each have special abilties that make playing the game easier. Like a triple jump or mid-air float.
You'll need those abilties to stay alive...relatively. If you stay in your halo/circle/ bubble formed with your fellow players you can't die unless times runs out in a level. You'll use this mechanic a lot as you make tombs to platform on when you do bite the dust.

And, gosh darn it, gotta extend some time for the look, everything is so fudgin cute. All the animal designs, the music, the playful voice going, "Zoo," it's all has such a great look and style with very simple design.

The game adds more playfulness as in-between levels you get to vote on cards that unlock something in the upcoming level. Sometimes it can just be a bonus of hearts, but other cards include Guest Drummer or Guest Saxophone. I want you to discover what those are for yourselves. You earn better more cards if you can collect all the fruit in a level.

Have fun as this is where we'll get into the un-calming, hectic-ness of Karmazoo. 

Forget the fruit, look at the time! Oh, ya see each level has a time limit of getting to a goal, which can be left or right, up or down. And, not easy to find.

Now, add to that you yelling at the person next to you to stay close, because if they wander to far off or you do, you both die... at least with 2 people, bigger groups have more of a chance, but if enough people don't stay together, game over. Oh, did I not mention that the game doesn't have any mic options?

Oh, yeah. I was playing the game with a friend with Discord on. Regular gameplay has no in-game chat. So imagine the free-for-all of working together with no speech!?! (Imagine I said that really fast to you and I'm out of breath. Breathes in.)

That's where KarmaZoo's cute and cuddly look gets you. It might look like cute Tamagotchis or pixel animals you want to put on keychains, but it's still a platformer with people you might not even know online.

Yes, you can create a private room for friends. No, you can't play on the couch...well, not KarmaZoo. 

They have mini-game co-op to play locally called Totem that I didn't get to check out. It looks fun.

One wonders though, why a local co-op experience couldn't be maintained? Perhaps, it make the game too easy.

Now with the reveals, I'm not trying to be negative. I'm just telling you how what is KarmaZoo and it is crazy. And, that's its point. It's a heavy co-operation game. Where you and others have to work together or things we'll go bad and you'll die very fast, but not in the instantly back-to-life-in-the-halo-way.

In multiple playthrough over an evening I didn't see any levels look the same, so it looks like you have a lot of places to get lost with different zoo crew members. There's apparently 300 levels, so lot to look forward to as their randomly chosen. Oh, I want to explore more levels!

And, it was fun; a lot more so when my friend and I unlocked our first animals. I can see wanting to collect them all.They say 50 in total.

At the price point of $9.99, the people behind the game at Devolver and Pastagames know this is for players wanting to play it again and again. Even though it looks simple, it's pretty high concept for an online platformer. It won't stop you from enjoying it and trying to earn the animal of your dreams.

KarmaZoo is out Nov 14th across PC, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X|S; a discount of 25% on Steam and 20% on consoles will also be available at launch. Like I said usually going for $9.99.

Game provided by publisher for review purposes