Climate change is an ever-present and growing issue in our modern day lives. More needs to be done to help mitigate the changes in our environment, and from the recent protests and general raising of awareness to the declaration of climate emergencies by the UK and Republic of Ireland governments, this is made abundantly clear. The message is reaching more and more people every day, but the strikes and declarations aren’t the only way to send messages. Games also need to play a part and one of those games is Koral, which is a light puzzler that focuses on the impact of climate change and pollution on the world’s coral reefs.
In Koral players are a dot of light navigating environments that have been dulled as coral reefs die off to create the dead zones where the life they sustain cannot function, through to environments devastated by dynamite fishing which can stop coral from thriving. In each chapter, your little ray of light has to solve basic puzzles, with each completed one bringing life back to the barren world and filling it with colour once more. The puzzles aren’t the only aspect of Koral as exploring always gives you rewards.
Did you know the rate coral reef bleaching, putting them at risk of being lost, has increased over the years? Or that there are now over 500 dead zones in coral reefs across out planet? Okay, so exploring doesn’t give rewards in the traditional sense, but illuminating facts like these. I didn’t know too much about these environments off hand, but learned through playing Koral.
Koral has an effective way of drawing you into its seemingly relaxing atmosphere and non-stressful gameplay only to hit you with facts that can be quite shocking, about how bad things are in some areas of the oceans. The game works well as an educational tool as well as a game and could definitely be used to teach people about the environmental changes occurring right now. It also forces you to think about what may happen as a result of mankind’s actions.
Koral looks very nice with the various environments being distinct from each other. There’s a great transition in each as life returns to the corals with bursts of colour piercing through the dark oceans and glowing so much that it changes the mood of the environment from sombre to joyous. The music also adds to the atmosphere with the lifeless zones having subdued sounds that pick up as more life appears. It’s very well composed and there are some genuine moments where the music can give a sense of elation.