Karma Star is best described as a card game. Well… actually… yeah, OK, I’m going to stick with that, but this game looks nothing like Spider Solitaire. Karma Star looks bizarre.
It’s weird. It’s conceptual. It’s really freaking fun.
The words “card” and “dice” are never used in Karma Star but the game’s mechanics work in fashions not unlike drawing hands of the former and rolling handfuls of the later. There could easily be a home version of this game in toy aisles next to Apples to Apples. It parallels that well.
Presentation for this “card game” goes the extra mile. Karma Star is essential a game of numbers and strategy. This would be serviceable on its own but also be hard to care about. Yet, polishing up the front end display adds a philosophical depth to everything you do in the game. It is a master stroke.
The concept of the Karma Star is offbeat but simple. Each player (human or computer) is in charge of a life. The goal is to have the best life of all the players. Life is valued by points and the points are earned through a quick game of Risk styled dice combat.
Combat is done through stats. Stats are quality of life characteristics such as “Mind”, “Heath”, and “Family”. The higher you get stats’ numbers the easier is will be to win and defend against the other players. The results of these battles, just like every event that occurs during the game, is depicted as something which happens during your life. For instance, if you were using your “Financial” stat against that of another player and won, the screen might say “large inheritance received from long lost relative”. These messages also change in style during the game as the life each player controls grows older. Since there are only eight rounds in a game, you grow old fast.
Strategy comes into play when you have to pick a stat to upgrade. Do you strengthen your strongest offensive stat? Or do you try to make your weaker stats more difficult for your opponents to score on? What feels like a simple game at first turns into a more complex, rewarding game after some play-through’s.
You’ll be playing it tons of times too since a game rarely lasts more than a couple minutes (those eight rounds go fast). This makes it perfect for an iPhone game: easy to jump into and quick to satisfy.
If I had a complaint about Karma Star it would be the game is too easy to master. Once you have honed your strategy the computer players pose no challenge. There are achievements you can earn by reaching certain criteria which might keep you busy for a bit once you’ve reached this point of the game, but I’d rather have more challenging opponents.
But, maybe I am supposed to find those on my own, since the game has multiple player options.
If a solid, quick, board game styled App for your iPhone sounds like it might be up your alley, stuff that alley with Karma Star. Wait. Did I just make a double entendre by accident?
-3 Mind stats for me.
What I learned today: Despite her best attempts, Amy Sedaris will always look hot to me.