Game: KOA and the Five Pirates of Mara
Genre: Platformer, Action, Adventure
System: Steam (Also available on Switch, PS4, PS5, Xbox Series X & Xbox One)
Developer|Publisher: Chibig, Talpa Games, Undercoders | Chibig
Controller Support: Yes
Price: UK £16.75 | US $19.99 | EU € 19.99
Release Date: 27th July 2023
Review code used with many thanks to Keymailer
3D platforming was revolutionised in the late 90s with titles such as Super Mario 64, Spyro and Croc: Legend of the Gobbos. In recent years, AAA platformers games have been somewhat of a rare breed for genres such as 1st Person shooters or Battle Royales. However, platformers within the indie scene are larger than life. KOA and the Five Pirates of Mara feels like a little love letter to those traditional 3D platformer games of the late 90s and early 2000s. Chibig is an indie developer based in Valencia, Spain. Chibig develops cute and cosy titles that are enjoyed by players with different levels of gaming ability.
The oceans of Mara have been stirred by the Pirates ransacking the hub town, Qalis Island. This has led to the map of Mara’s seas being split between these Pirates and needing to be reclaimed. After the tutorial involving Mayo and her wannabe pirate crew, she trades a map for shells that you can collect on your journey.
Koa realises that she cannot read the sea map but knows that a navigational sea charter called Saimi also lives on Qalis. Upon her aid for her map reading ability, the world (and seas) of Mara opened up to Koa.
KOA and the Five Pirates of Mara gameplay can be segmented into three sections. Exploring the hub town Qalis, sailing the seas of Mara and the island trails.
Within Qalis, you’ll be taking on tasks for the hub’s inhabitants and progressing the story by having Saimi read the maps for the Mara seas. When sailing the seas, you control Koa’s ship directly, and during this gameplay, you can sail to different islands and take on their trails. The boat sails very quickly, and the controls seem a little obtuse. The island trails are a majority of the gameplay as this is how you will acquire new maps to journey to distant islands in Mara. The island trails themselves are 3D platformer courses with a timer-ranked system. This timer system means that players can earn Gold, Silver, or Bronze ‘shell’ medals for passing the level within timed thresholds. You don’t get extra rewards for ranking better in the timed thresholds.
KOA has fluid and good controls to ensure platforming is not unfair. Regarding abilities, Koa can jump, run, stomp, lift items and roll. The roll technique can be performed after a running jump and a precise input as you land. You can cover a larger distance faster using this technique, which helps get those gold ‘shell’ medals.
Art and Sound
KOA and the Five Pirates of Mara are presented in a cel-shaded, flat colour art style. When featuring character dialogue, the textbox is accompanied by a 2D piece of character artwork which is a nice addition to the game’s presentation. Overall, it works well and fits the design philosophy that Chibig want for its games.
KOA features a simple user interface with any level of gamer in mind. While they are difficult options, they include ‘Normal’ and ‘Relaxed’, furthering the design philosophy. The soundtrack certainly went well with the game; however, I didn’t find the music catchy.
KOA and the Five Pirates of Mara is a simple 3D platformer that is available on many platforms. It can be some nice simple platforming fun to play with a younger family member. Whilst not a challenging title, KOA features plenty of charm and a cute presentation.
Final Verdict: I Like it