Koa and the Five Pirates of Mara is set to release July 27th this year. Developed under collaboration between Chibig, Talpa Games and Undercoders, Koa is advertised as a relaxing and wholesome 3D platform adventure game.
Although not even out yet, Koa has already received the ‘Best Platformer Game’ award at the Indie Dev Day 2022. Needless to say, I’m excited to check this one out.
Koa, a Cross Platform Platformer
Koa is available on Nintendo Switch, PS5, PS4, Windows PC, Xbox Series X, S and One… Making it one of the most versatile and accessible indie games I’ve played in a little while. Regardless of your hardware, you should have no issues downloading Koa and The Five Pirates of Mara!
“Join Koa and her best friend Napopo on an action-packed adventure through the islands of Mara! Outwit traps, manoeuvre dangerous environments, and explore a series of dazzlingly different landscapes on their quest to recover stolen pirate loot.”
So the story is as follows; pirates have ransacked Koa’s home island! In order to win back what they’ve taken, Koa must participate in a race organised by the pirates themselves. To help us on our journey, Koa will have to rely on her friends, and utilise the maps she finds throughout levels.
Advertised as a relaxing and atmospheric platformer, Koa and the Five Pirates of Mara offers 2 game modes; normal and relaxed. The difference being that relaxed mode has more checkpoints, offering a lighter experience for new or perhaps younger players. More seasoned players should opt for normal mode, which gives a slightly more challenging experience. Emphasis on slightly, as fewer checkpoints is the only difference. The challenges, puzzles and levels remain the same, meaning that amongst it’s peers… Koa ranks on the lower end of the difficulty scale.
Koa supports 2 types of input; keyboard and controller. If you’re playing on PC I’d recommend a controller if you have one. Although playable with keyboard, a controller is a lot more intuitive and player movement feels more refined. Movement via the keyboard can be a little limiting at times.
Being a 90s baby, my childhood was based around games such as Spyro the Dragon, Crash Bandicoot and Rayman. I’m pleasantly nostalgic to see elements of these games shine through into Koa. Your main objective is to clear levels in a timely manner, collecting as many items as possible. For Sonic it was coins, for Spyro it was gems, and for Koa it’s seashells.
Mixing exploration with level based challenges, you’ll have to solve jumping puzzles, reach platforms and traverse obstacles using the tools and movements available to Koa. Overall the gameplay is pretty linear, with minor elements of open world from time to time. It would be nice to see another difficulty level, but perhaps this could come in future updates.
Graphics & Audio
Visually Koa opts for a bright and cute low poly 3D art style, with fixed camera positions and 2D overlays for NPC interaction. It’s quite similar to those 1990 platformers we all know and love from our childhood, and I’m all for it. Koa seems to have struck a balance, with the graphics being inviting to all ages and suitable for new/younger players and more seasoned platformers. Simple shaders and particle FX are brilliantly utilised to add a layer of depth and polish to each level.
Alongside it’s bright colours and happy visuals, Koa sports some upbeat music which compliments the overall vibe of the game. Sound FX such as breaking boxes and collecting shells are well designed and utilised. There are no character voiceovers, but being an indie game that has to be expected. It does work well without them anyway, and you’re able to skip dialogue if you just want to crack on with the mission.
So what sort of hardware is required to play Koa and the Five Pirates of Mara on PC, you might ask. Well, let me put your mind at ease by saying Koa will run happily on; Windows 7, Intel Core i5, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 660/AMD Radeon HD 7850, DirectX 11 and 2GB available space. The Steam page does not specify the required RAM.
Being fairly casual and light, my best guess is that most players will step into the world of Koa for around an hour at a time. Depending on who’s playing, of course. For me personally, Koa is a relaxing puzzle platformer in which I can lose myself for an hour after a busy day at work, or to wind down in the evening. It’s light, rewarding and impossible to get angry at. No rage quits here, just good vibes and relaxing gameplay.
A new game mode with more difficult challenges and greater punishments might widen the games audience, and increase longevity.
Koa and the Five Pirates of Mara is designed to be playable by all ages, and suits different play styles. Whether you’re a speed runner who wants to set record times or an explorer who prefers to visit every corner of the map, Koa has you covered. There’s enough gameplay to keep things interesting, and the developers have left it open to DLC or expansion in the future. Being level based and containing loot-able items and in-game shops, Koa has serious potential for growth. Perhaps some more advanced levels or trickier puzzles could be added in future updates?
Overall the game left me in a pretty good mood, and wanting to see more. Koa gets a big thumbs up from me.
I award Koa and the Five Pirates of Mara a Thumb Culture Silver Award!
Disclaimer: A code was received in order to write this review.