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KOI PlayStation 4 Game Review

Reviewed by on Apr 19, 2016
Rating: 2 Star Rating

A small game dropped into the big pond of the PlayStation 4s game library. Kidzworld gives you the game review of Sonys new release, KOI.

By: Max Cannon

KOI is a game that will be remembered in some capacity regardless of how well it is received. As the first Chinese developed game to get a console release in the west in over a decade, Koi bears some importance. There's an important global message in this game but it's muddied by shallow gameplay.

KOI PS4 Video Review

A Splash of Color

In KOI you play as a small red koi fish and swim through a river helping nature bloom as you go. Branches, black fish, and gates block your way which can only be passed by causing colored flowers to bloom. To cause these flowers to bloom, the koi fish picks up smaller fish of different colors and drops them off at their corresponding flower. Once the flower blooms your path opens up and you move onto the next level. Alongside grabbing fish you'll see the occasional mini game to try and add a little variety. Collectibles are all over the map with puzzle pieces, stars, and skins for your fish. 

The art style of the game is certainly grabbing. Ripples cover the water, reeds shadow over rocks and fish, and the koi themselves have a cute little animation to accompany their swimming. The music is beautiful by Chinese artist Zeta. You get dark slow music when you enter a polluted area, you get fast music to accompany your rush down the river and calming music to pair with the sounds of water dropping down. If I have any issue with the art of the game it's that there aren't any options to drop down the music or sound settings, and the music gets really REALLY loud. I was consistently checking my volume throughout my playthrough.

Things get dark when your little koi fish enters some pollution.Things get dark when your little koi fish enters some pollution.Courtesy of PlayStation

Swimming in Circles

But the gameplay itself is where I have my real issue with KOIThis game is short, repetitve, and incredibly easy. As earlier mentioned, you'll often grab colored fish and take them to their corresponding flowers - similar to a key to its lock.  Almost every fish is standing right next to its flower. So there is no challenge to stop you from progressing. It's like hiding nearly every key right under a transparent welcome mat. That's the whole game too. Grab a fish and take it to it's flower. Over and over until the game ends. 

The only challenge you'll see in the game to try and stop you are black fish. These giant fish have a big cone of vision in front of them and when you or any of the fish you have following behind enter their line of site, it'll fly forward and attack. If you're hit, you're not really punished. You're slowed down for a few seconds and that is it. Later on in the game you'll encounter some sparks that may try and zap you but getting hit doesn't knock you around, it just slows how quickly you move.

Also the random and short lived mini-games hold things back. Mini games in a typical game start slow and get easier, in KOI they are so rarely used that they clearly just exist to add a little more time to the game. The only person who I could see having a legitimately enjoyable time with this game would be a preschooler who is trying their first game and I feel the memory games - while rare - are a little hard for what I see to be a potential target audience in younger gamers.

Pretty color consistenly fills the screen in Koi.Pretty color consistenly fills the screen in Koi.Courtesy of Engadget

Moving Against The Current

There's a bit of a story here but nothing too compelling. Your little fish has to move through its river to clean up the pollution and uncorrupt the black fish. There's an important message here concerning pollution and there is a tad bit more information if you pick up the collectibles but nothing that's going to convince you to start recycling. Especially considering that the game just ends. Without giving anything away the game just wraps up, there's a final level locked behind some collectibles but the ending most people will get isn't satisfying in any capacity. You finish your level just like any other level and you cut back to the main menu screen.

Luckily the game is short. The game took me just shy of an hour, which would be fine for the game's original release on a mobile device. But for a 10 dollar game released on the PS4 I would expect much more bang for my buck, You may be able to get a little replay value out of picking up the collectibles and wearing some other skins, but I would be surprised to see anyone get anything more than a couple of hours. And unlike other games of the same length and price there is no lasting appeal when you set the game down. With games like Journey or Portal  I found myself thinking about the game long after setting it down. No such luck with KOI. 

Final Thoughts

KOI is a pretty game with some cool music, but its empty gameplay holds it back from even being a good game. And I think that it isn't worth the money they're asking so don't be surprised if it comes to PlayStation Plus sooner rather than later. 

The game's gorgeous ending can't make up for its weak gameplay.The game's gorgeous ending can't make up for its weak gameplay.Courtesy of Niche Gamer


  • Memorable visuals
  • Pretty and moving music


  • Repetitive 
  • Lacks any challenge
  • Short

KOI Game Rating:2

Available for PlayStation 4 

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