Sunday, September 14, 2008


Title: Karoshi
Author: Jesse Venbrux
License: Freeware

I recently saw a list of "The Best Indie Game You (N)ever Played". One game on the list is the platform/puzzler Karoshi 2, and I realized that I have never reviewed it or its predecessor. It is time to correct this oversight.

Karoshi is the Japanese word for "death from overwork." This is a apt title the game. The goal in most platform/puzzlers is safely get to the exit. The puzzle is figuring out how to do this, hit the switch, collect the key, etc, etc. Karoshi turns this this genre on its head. The goal is figure out a way to kill yourself.

There are lots of different ways to kill yourself in Karoshi. You can fall on spikes. You can orchestrate to have a box fall you. My favorite, you can electrocute yourself.

Karoshi follows the usual conventions for platform games: boxes to push, switches to activate, gravity causes everything to fall, jumping. But there are many things which you have to discover on your own. This is really the fun part. In the level pictured above, you have to figure out that those yellow lines are electricity and boxes are conductive. In the end, everything is logical, but you have think outside the box every now and then, play experiment, have fun. There are a couple of great "ah ha" momenets in this game.

There are 26 levels plus a "boss" level. The levels are varied, and the design is very good. The levels unfortunately have to be solved in order. This can a little annoying when you do not see the trick and that ah ha moment is still a ways off.

The graphics and audio are simple, nothing special, but fine for the game. The controls can at times be annoying if you have to jump and fire your gun at just the right time. There is one level were I had to jump above the top of viewable area and as I was coming down, fire at just the right time. I still wonder if there was a better way to complete that level. Hmm...

There is an odd psychological aspect to the game. We are trained to survive. Years of playing such game has hard coded in my brain that you avoid spikes. It took me a while to switch my thinking to finding ways to kill myself. Ultimately this is what makes Karoshi a great game. Sadly, it is also what makes Karoshi 2 less of a game. It has better graphics, audio, and a nicer interface. But, it lacked the wonder and newness of the original. The levels in the original are more inventive.

Both are free and well worth playing.


At 3:44 AM, Blogger Rohit Singh said...

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