KARMAFLOW Could Be Your Rock Opera Video Game Jam

Depending almost 100% on your feelings towards rock operas.

At this point, video games have plundered from nearly every genre cinema has to offer. That's partially but not entirely a criticism; it's logical for a medium still getting settled to borrow a cup of sugar from its neighbours every now and again. But while science fiction, fantasy, horror and action movies have fueled games for years now, musical fans - both the casuals and the psychotic, permanently beaming obsessives - have been hard done by. Disregarding explicitly music-driven games - Rock Band, SingStar and the like - are there any games where characters converse through song, other than Dominique Pamplemousse in "It's All Over Once The Fat Lady Sings!" or bits of Epic Mickey 2?*

Well, there are now. Or rather, there will be. Karmaflow: The Rock Opera Videogame is a puzzle platformer adventure game with a twist: it's also a delicious breakfast pastry! No, it's actually a rock opera. A rock opera whose rock appears so operatic it might be too much for a gameplay period longer than five minutes or so, given how frequently you end up repeating sequences in games. One hopes there are some quieter ballads amongst the ostentatious power metal anthems; every musical needs a good "I Want" song. Or one of those big chorus numbers where all the quirky residents of the town introduce themselves, and you get a sense of the community in which the story is to take place. Yeah, those are good 'uns. More of them.

Karmaflow features the musical talents of the Dutch Metropole Orchestra, plus members of groups like Cradle of Filth, Dragonforce and Arch Enemy, which I assume are either metal bands or brands of exceptionally niche BDSM equipment. I'm guessing it's the former, as several "live shows" have been scheduled to tie in with the January 2015 release of the game, although part of me hopes it's the latter. Regardless, those members will be voicing characters in the game, which in itself looks appealing enough. Floating platforms have historically been winners in game design, and I'd be lying if I said the air-mermaids didn't do it for some deep, dark recess of my id. There are hints of Journey and Zelda in its bright, wistful level and character design; while it's not really clear what you'll be doing, you'll look pretty doing it, and that's the important thing.

And, of course, the fact that it's a musical. If that can be turned into a viable game mechanic, it'll make me one happy sporadic fan of musical theatre. If it can't, well, I'll always have The Apple.

* Do consider checking out Dominique Pamplemousse, an independently produced, stop-motion musical adventure/detective game. A grand prize nominee at this year's Independent Games Festival, it's got its rough edges (mostly around its adventure game elements), but it's also got an adorable lo-fi visual aesthetic bolstered by Daniel Johnston-esque musical numbers, which marry into the story in delightful fashion. It's five bucks, you're supporting an original indie developer, and it features characters singing "Dominique Pamplemousse" without irony or verbal difficulty. So if that's your thing, do it.

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