Karma: Curse of the 12 Caves
Review by Orb
Karma: Curse of the 12 Caves was the follow-up to Jewels
of the Oracle from the now-defunct publisher Discus. Made
by Chinese developer Interserv, a different team than the one
that produced Jewels, Karma is a watered-down and inferior-to-the-original
Karma features the de rigeur super-flimsy "who cares?"
storyline that is the hallmark of all puzzle games. The player's
task is to find a fountain that cures all disease. Actually, the
real goal is to complete all 15 puzzles in the game without going
mad. The story is presented by an Asian gentleman dressed in flowing
white garb, who appears at the beginning and prior to accessing
each puzzle spouting mind-numbing platitudes that would be a good
substitute for a hefty dose of Sominex.
As far as puzzle games go, Karma has all of the usual
suspects, albeit each done in innovative styles. That is, if you
can call a Tower of Hanoi or a slider puzzle innovative. Regardless,
the 15 puzzles contained are the strongest point of the game,
and really what it's all about to begin with. It also contains
a music puzzle, matching tiles and a couple of arcade games as
well as some really different games that were very entertaining.
There are a couple of nice design touches to the game. The cursor
is a throbbing, spinning lotus, which extends a petal to let the
player know that a directional movement is available. Music is
light and unobtrusive, a tinkling bit of strings and flute with
the sound of the Orient. The endgame sequence is a very nice animated
bit that is a fair payoff for the amount of time it takes to complete
the game. (For me, three sittings.)
Each puzzle has a menu, a good thing. There is a "help"
feature that explains the purpose of the puzzle and sometimes
gives clues to complete them, which is a nice thing mostly lacking
in many puzzle games.
There are also some not-so-nice elements. Firstly, the game movement
is done in a little window around an unnecessarily beefy stone-looking
interface screen. Secondly, if a puzzle is exited, each time you
reenter, you are forced to endure the nonsensical rambling of
the introductory character.
The game screen is really a distraction. While moving about,
it is far too small to get a good look at anything in the pretty
fuzzy-looking environment. The player only gets a full screen
while in puzzle mode.
Despite the fun factor of the puzzles, the design of them was
uneven. Some were very simple and took just a minute or two to
get through, and some were frustratingly difficult, including
an 80-move slider.
Probably the greatest design drawback is a horrible movement
system, whereby if you go into one of the caves to contact a puzzle,
you cannot turn around and walk back out but instead must go all
the way in, open the puzzle, and choose "exit" in order
to return to the central hub. Given the fact that there are six
caves, all of which look pretty much the same, giving access to
two puzzles each, this can become very tiresome. You can get stuck
into a "hit-and-miss" situation, returning to an old
puzzle or finding a new one.
Karma is okay, it's just not exceptional. There are so
many better puzzle games out there, new and old, such as Safecracker,
7th Guest, even this game's predecessor, Jewels of
the Oracle, it does not make much sense that, in looking for
just straight puzzles, you would put up your money for this one
versus one of the other, better games.
Developer: Interserv Multimedia
Publisher: Discus Entertainment
Release Date: 1995
Four Fat Chicks Links
8 MB RAM
2X CD-ROM drive
256-color SVGA video card
System 7.1 or later
8 MB RAM
2X CD-ROM drive
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