Today, Devolver Digital announced KarmaZoo, a new platformer developed by the team at Pastagames. This platformer sees players working together to get through a series of unique levels, solving puzzles, and overcoming obstacles as a team. I was invited to check the game out with a group of writers prior to its reveal to learn more about how KarmaZoo is mixing up the formula of modern platformers.
While co-op platformers are not a new concept, KarmaZoo ties its cooperative elements together in a way I haven’t seen before. As a small pixelated blob, you bounce through levels with the goal of getting your teammates across the finish line, you can assist each other by pulling levers and hitting buttons to open pathways, and even singing to activate moving platforms.
Unlike traditional platformers, KarmaZoo encourages death. When you land on a field of spikes, your blob briefly turns into a solid platform before you respawn. This platform can be safely walked on top of or climbed by your allies. My allies and I would sacrifice ourselves in rapid succession to create a bridge that made it easier for our allies to traverse tough terrain.
Each character in KarmaZoo is surrounded by a small bubble. When you stray away from allies, the bubble will slowly shrink, eventually turning your character into a ghost. You have to stay close to your allies in order to survive, and the ticking clock while apart added a sense of urgency to puzzle-solving and exploration.
The animal kingdom
While everyone in KarmaZoo starts off as a small blob, there are various animal characters that can be unlocked, each bringing their own unique ability to the table. For example, the wolf’s howl allowed it to shout longer distances, activating mechanisms without needing to be as close as other characters. The spider is able to climb webs, and the elephant can slam through glass walls.
The levels in KarmaZoo will naturally adapt to the size and composition of your team, tossing in challenges and obstacles that correspond to the characters in your group. It created a fun dynamic where we all took turns progressing the squad through a level.
While KarmaZoo is all about working together and spreading the love, there is a competitive mode called Totem, which features a few different minigames. There’s one where every player is a raptor, racing to cross a finish line, and another where everyone is trying to grab the most amount of collectibles within a fixed time frame.
KarmaZoo clearly comes from a deep love of platformers and cooperative play. With Pastagames weaving those elements together in unique and fun ways, I’m interested to see how it all comes together in the full release. KarmaZoo is currently scheduled to launch later this year.