KarmaZoo embodies the meaning of teamwork makes the dream work – Hands-on impressions
It’s all about the group project experience and making sure everyone completes the puzzle together.
It’s not every day you get the chance to play a group-based game where everyone comes out as the winner. However, Pastagames’ KarmaZoo does something truly unique by putting you in a group of 10 other players, and rather than pitting you against each other to see who gets the highest score, the real winners are those who go out of their way to be helpful so everyone can make it to the finish line.
During my hands-on impressions session, I had a chance to sit down and play KarmaZoo, alongside the team’s PR members, Pastagames’ game designer Nadim Haddad, and several other journalists. What I thought was originally going to be a massive, chaotic race to the finish line became a relaxing, entertaining adventure through the several generated puzzles in KarmaZoo.
Work Together in KarmaZoo to Create Lasting Friendships
Everyone begins in a large lobby with various generic blobs as the starting character. Eventually, the more you play KarmaZoo, the more avatars you unlock, each with a unique ability. The type of avatars you have in your party determines the puzzles in your party’s run. The Pastagames team handcrafted these puzzles, and although they can appear in a random order, they are not randomly generated, with over 200 puzzles created by the team.
The only goal of the players in KarmaZoo is to reach the end of each puzzle, but everyone is also attempting to earn Karma along the way by aiding other team members to reach the next area. For example, there might be a button on the bottom that opens up the second puzzle. When you press it, you’ll earn Karma points for every character that goes through the other side, where another button might be waiting for them to press to let you through the next puzzle.
It’s a consistent cycle of trying to reach the next stage of the puzzle, finding ways to help your teammates reach the next area, who will then assist you in getting there. You might even have to sacrifice your blob to hit a pile of spikes, making it safe for your teammates. Thankfully, lives do not matter, but if you stray too far from the group, death will come because loneliness is the greatest enemy of all.
There is a timer ticking down in the background to keep everyone moving. Pastagames was inspired by the love for the early Mario franchise, and to keep up the tradition, each puzzle has a timer set to 300 seconds. Should the timer reach zero in any of the four puzzles, the game is over, and everyone counts the Karma points they earned in each level.
These Karma points are how players buy new avatars, gaining access to new powers they unleash in the various puzzles. Having access to more avatars means being able to do more puzzles, which means more adventuring with other KarmaZoo players.
My time playing KarmaZoo with the team was less authentic than the actual experience. We could use voice chat and talk about the next puzzle steps. Players jumping into the game will be thrust into a group of random players, and they’ll need to work together to figure out each piece of the puzzle, gradually progressing through an area. This is where the timer might be a much more difficult obstacle to overcome for everyone involved.
For those who desire to play Mario Party mini-games without the board game, there is a more competitive mode in KarmaZoo called Totem Mode. It’s a smaller game mode where eight players compete in set objectives. These mini-games are fast and frantic, proving to be a good break from the teambuilding exercise of the traditional game.
Overall, KarmaZoo is a delightful experience for anyone who wants to put their teambuilding skills to the test. With over 50 unique avatars with diverse abilities and 200 puzzles to learn, it’s an approachable game that captures the excitement of traditional platformers and compacts it into a cooperative game that strives to turn you into a better person.