A brightly-colored little fish is about to swim the divide between Eastern and Western video game markets. KOI, an exploration puzzle game developed by Dotoyou and published by Oasis Games Ltd, will be the first-ever Chinese developed title to be published on PlayStation 4 for Western territories. The Chinese gaming market focuses primarily on PC and mobile platforms due to a nationwide ban on video game consoles that was finally lifted in 2014—but strict censorship is still in effect. Heavy restrictions can either hinder or inspire, and it appears that Dotoyou chose the latter.
Dotoyou is a small, independent game developer in Tianjin, China comprised of 12 members. When he founded the company, CEO Julien Li took a hard look at the trends in his local industry and decided to take a different approach when creating video games.
“In a way we unify the way we make games, actually a very simple rule,” Li explains on the company blog, “every game we develop should be completely different from the previous one. The last couple of years the popularity of mobile games here in China soared, the number of games and apps produced grew explosively. But we found something problematic with this, a lot of developers would base their decision about what kind of game to create on what is popular at a particular moment, or simply on what makes the most money. This seems like a recipe for success, but in reality, huge development teams and smaller ones such as ours, they have to face very different challenges. And so us simply copying them would lead nowhere.”
“So, we took a deep breath and started thinking about the way we wanted to go, creatively,” he continued, “And we came to a simple conclusion: it has to be unique, the game’s design must be unique, the technology behind it special, the gameplay innovative, new. KOI game was created with these ideas always in the back of our minds.”
Originally released for mobile devices in over 100 countries, KOI has been well-received among audiences—earning a first place award for the Modian Web PlayStation Developer Competition. By becoming the first partner of Sony Computer Entertainment Shanghai, Dotoyou is taking that first leap into the world of PlayStation 4—debuting their game at the 2016 Game Developers Conference (GDC) and making it available for purchase next week.
Set against a colorful backdrop and soundtrack by Chinese artist, Zeta, KOI challenges players to guide a small fish on a quest to return light to the darkened, polluted waters. The most striking feature of this game is perhaps, the visuals. “I have a background on advertisement and a strong connection towards the camera,” explained DAQ, Dotoyou’s lead designer on the game’s blog. “Which helps me create games as a medium for feelings, igniting an emotional reaction in gamers.”
KOI will be available April 19 on PlayStation 4 for $9.99 and $7.99 exclusively for PlayStation Plus members via the PlayStation Store.