Author Topic: KARASKI: What Goes Up...  (Read 1606 times)

Jubal

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KARASKI: What Goes Up...
« on: April 06, 2016, 09:49:25 PM »
KARASKI: What Goes Up...

Game Type: Commercial
Genre: Adventure

Link: http://karaski.com/

Graphics rating:
Gameplay rating:
Immersion rating:
Overall rating:

...and I won't spoil what comes after the ellpisis! One starting note is that this is an odd case where I feel my own numbers out of five are inherently unfair - this is at its heart a 100% scoring game, one that I'd recommend very highly indeed, and I want to stress that the fact it's scoring at a mere eighty percent probably says more about me than the game (I have gone into more explanation below). Essentially, though, Karaski is a hugely exciting, charming, immersive piece of work and one which is very well worth the price.

Why so? Firstly, it's just a very nicely turned out concept and piece of work, being one of the best modern adventure games I've played; this is gold standard stuff for where adventure and mystery games should be. It looks the part, with graphics that look great but keep the game graphically (and thus for the player mentally) the right distance from reality for a fun escapist gaming experience. It has a nicely encapsulated setting, too, within the airship – there’s rarely if ever a point of frustration where the player realises they can’t go somewhere they wanted, with every part of the airship available to explore.

The gameplay mechanics are generally neat as well – there’s a huge amount of the game to explore, and a dazzling range of different choices and plot arcs to go down. You design your character and their backstory as the game unfolds, putting you in the strange but exciting role of simultaneous protagonist and storyteller. I felt, after one playthrough, satisfied with the ending – but intrigued by the fact that I’d only just scratched the surface of the airship’s secrets. Item use is interesting and worthwhile, and the range of tools provides some interesting options - the game engine possibly had unexplored potential for additional item use which might have allowed for a few other puzzle styles, but everything that was there was done nicely and produced well.

What really grabbed me best about Karaski, though, was the setting and attention to detail. A game with an engaging and effective approach to politics (especially nineteenth and early twentieth century politics) and religion is a rare beast, and Karaski does it well; finding out more helped drive me through the game as the story unfolded. I'd genuinely love to see more games in the same universe to allow for more views of how these struggles and tensions play out in other ways and places. At a more personal level the non-player characters, even the non-critical ones (excepting the guards, who were fairly generic but understandably so), felt like intelligent, flawed humans with a range of life stories, rather than (as is so often the case) being built precisely as far as the plot needed and no further. It was rare that I found the conversation options inadequate - I occasionally wanted to express sentiments to the characters where I didn't have an option, but as I tend to play games as a stubborn liberal even in universes where that's wholly inappropriate that's a fairly normal thing for me and it was a nice surprise that it didn't happen more often!

I should include a section on why this didn't get the full fives it probably deserved. There were two main culprits for this, both of which say more about me than the devs. Firstly, I don't hugely like sneak mechanics. These were, in their defence, some of the best executed sneak mechanics I've played with, but I felt they still covered slightly too much of the ship slightly too much of the time. I admittedly didn't experiment with toning the difficulty down on them, which would probably have been sensible. I did have one amusing moment where I evaded capture in the hold by jumping up onto some boxes until I was above head height - unable to get to me to talk to me, and despite me being in plain view, the guard simply ran around in a circle until finally concluding that climbing boxes wasn't something he was getting paid for and wandered off.

The second is a plot spoiler, so spoiler tags are go:
Spoiler (click to show/hide)

Anyway, those are my thoughts - I hope Karaski is the success it deserves to be and I really hope we see more of the world that it's given us our first window onto!
« Last Edit: April 17, 2016, 06:31:36 PM by Jubal »
The duke, the wanderer, the philosopher, the mariner, the warrior, the strategist, the storyteller, the wizard, the wayfarer...