Art, as they say, is in the eye of the beholder. Incredible works of art have been attained in almost every medium but video games are more often seen as entertainment rather than art. This is ok, because a lot of games ARE just entertainment and while arguments can be made for games as art, it’s not accurate to say all games could be considered art. Karmaflow, on the other hand, is very difficult to argue that it’s a game at all. Yes, there are puzzle elements and platforming sections but the game itself feels more like a living music video than a game. And this, brilliantly, is also ok.
In Karmaflow, you’ll be subject to moving around a surreal purple and orange coloured world. You’re able to shift karma from orange objects to purple ones by extracting and injecting karma. Around the game world are shards that give you information about the world around you. As you adventure around, you’ll find a mysterious feathered woman who seems to have split manic and depressive sides as she shifts from purple to orange. It turns out she is the lost muse of the builder of the world, the conductor. Impressively their tragic history and present unfold via song, with powerful rock ballads from well known singers from bands such as DragonForce, Cradle of Filth, Epica, Sonata Arctica and Arch Enemy.
I’ve not yet finished my journey through their world and discovering all I can but the only way to describe the game so far is as an experience. They bill the game as an Interactive Rock Opera and the description is apt. Should you play it? Well that depends. Firstly, if you’re not a fan of musicals or rock operas the game will probably fall flat for you. The music and story hold up an otherwise easy (although sometimes frustrating) game. Secondly, if you’re bothered by games that don’t quite have the level of polish that other games do when it comes to texture resolution, efficacy of shaders, sound design or physics. You’ll often slide around and bounce where the physics are obviously rougher. The meshes and textures are designed to fit an aesthetic, but it often flows into itself because of the limited colour pallet. But if you don’t mind a flawed game, there is a very shiny gleaming musical gem wrapped in some pretty hardcore metal at its core.