Karma. Incarnation 1

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Karma. Incarnation 1 Offers a Trippy, Beautiful Experience

Karma’s a fun, pretty little puzzler of a game I picked up in the app store while I waited for it to stop raining last week.

Note that I said ‘fun.’ Also note that I said ‘little.’

If you haven’t guessed from the name ‘Incarnation 1’, it’s only the first in what will hopefully be at least a trilogy set in this gorgeous world. It’s a short game, yes, but worth the couple of bucks you pay for a rich, hand-drawn walk through a psychedelic universe.

The concept art alone is worth a little time from your eyeballs.

The story is told entirely in pictorial form, with no written text or dialogue. Unlike many puzzlers, however, it does have a (relatively) intricate plot that invokes themes of love, survival, and morality.

The player takes the form of Pip (I only know the name because the internet told me), a soul wandering around the afterlife (or the between-life, as is the case in this game.) Pip is in love with another soul, which is color-coded pink next to his white just so you know for sure that the main character is definitely male and he’s definitely in a heterosexual relationship. …Which is not exactly a knock against the game for me, just, uh… noted.

Unfortunately, Pip’s definitely-female love interest gets eaten by a fire-breathing sarlacc while Pip manages to escape.

Bummer.

He goes and complains to, uh… God….? about his fetus girlfriend getting digested for 1000 years and asks what he can do about it.

God says the only way to defeat this Eldritch Abomination is for Pip to be reborn as the soul of a powerful dragon. Unfortunately for our hero, something in the reincarnation process goes wrong, and Pip ends up looking like this –

Some sort of slug, I suppose.

Although Pip’s new form has incredible stamina and a gullet like Mary Poppins’ traveling bag, he’s not the powerful winged beast he needs to be in order to get his beloved back. Therefore, Pip must solve puzzles and make friends (or enemies,) along his path so that he can eventually hold the tools necessary to defeat The Evil.

Pip is aided by a trippy TARDIS and the power of a psychedelic viewing orb along the way.

Pip must make moral choices as he navigates this new life, choices which will result in everything from appearance changes to the dilemma of a character not helping him because of his alignment.

This bone-headed shaman isn’t racist against spikes; he’s responding to the character’s alignment.

At one point, you’re sucked back into the afterlife and judged by the Flying Spaghetti Monster, so yes, Pip’s decisions are extremely important to the plot.

I won’t give away the end, but I will say that I was slightly disappointed with how the bad karmic ‘ending’ played out. I have enough faith in this game and developer, however, to believe that the next installments will expound more on the consequences of Pip’s decisions.

And honestly, the beautiful art and original soundtrack are enough of a draw for me to recommend this game to anyone; a great plot would just be extra icing on the cake.

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The Good

  • One of the most beautifully had-drawn games out there
  • Gorgeous original soundtrack
  • The potential for more adventures in this fascinating world
  • Lively, fun characters and great humor

The Bad

  • The puzzles could be a little more challenging. I'm not even good at puzzlers, and I finished this game in less than three hours.
  • The ending's not really an 'end,' especially for the bad karmic path.
  • The plant level is so perfect in its amount of puzzles and complexity, it makes the other levels seem lackluster when coming back to them. I suspect it was the first level this team made.
8.5/10

Written by: Kaitlyn Van Dorn

I’m Kaitlyn. I’ve been around a while and I like things.

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