Staying on the right side of the law is how I’ve lived my whole life. I’ve never really thought about breaking form and so, it comes to games like Save Koch that give me an insight into what it would be like to be a baddie. In this game, you play as Jeffrey Koch, kingpin of the local mafia, who has had a credible threat made against his life, so has been locked away in a safehouse.
What do you need to do? Find the mole, find the mastermind, and ‘take care of business’. All within seven days. There are around seven or eight potential moles, and five potential masterminds, and each time the game is played, these people are randomised. You have to utilise your allies, your enemies, and anyone else that you can contact in order to track down and kill the two people that are against you. However, tracking people down while you’re locked in a safehouse isn’t the easiest job, but luckily, you have a crack team of mobsters under your command. You can send them on various missions, from surveillance and chatting to protection or analysing a crime scene. Each mobster has their own skillset, so pairing the correct person with the correct job can lead to finding the information you need quite quickly and easily.
A Motley Crew
To actually save Koch is an extremely difficult thing to do. As the enemies are random each time, you have to have a real eye for detail. You can never really one hundred percent rely on anyone, as in different play throughs, they may be working with the enemy. Every mission might end differently, every conversation may read differently, and you have to use these to deduce who you need to take out. You’re also in a race against time, so you can’t dilly dally and come to conclusions over time, you have to be decisive and take action. If you’re right, then great, but if you’re wrong, you may start to notice your team starting to turn against you. It can lead to some thrilling endings, of which there are many, but obviously once you’ve been offed dozens of times, finally getting the good ending is such a great feeling.
The art style in Save Koch is also pretty good. It is cartoony, with anthropomorphic animals taking the place of humans, and despite the slightly downbeat subject, the game looks and feels really nice. The cut scenes as well are extremely well done, featuring a comic book style recreation of events, and although there isn’t much in the way of voice acting, when it is present, it is done very well. It’s a shame there isn’t more of it, but understandable for an indie studio. There aren’t too many screens in the game either, which does mean that every screen is packed with cool details and things to look at. Everything has been well designed with the user experience at the heart of it.
The main thing that makes Save Koch a bit pants is the repetition involved. It’s rather short, but with quite a few different endings. This means that in order to see every ending, you have to proceed through the start, every phone call, every mission, repeatedly. Over, and over, and over again. It’s made worse by the fact that missions only change when you change your team members – and even then it’s only a couple of missions that change. Whats worse is that at the start, when you’re just getting to know the game and making the majority of your mistakes, you have no ability to change your team up. Meaning you’re stuck doing the same game over, and over again. With no ability to speed things up, no ability to skip anything. You don’t even have caller ID on your phone, so you don’t know what phone calls are pointless and you can skip.
The lack of polish is another real concerning point for Save Koch. The menus are a tad clunky, for example, when trying to make a phone call, you have your list of contacts on the right hand side. However, you can’t select one and it’ll auto-dial it. Instead, you have to manually type every number – except for your four agents, who do have a speed dial option. Once you’ve played through a few times and seen what missions are worth doing and which you can happily miss, you are generally sat there waiting for minutes on end for things to end. It can get a little boring, especially when you’ve heard the same sound effects for the millionth time.
The Final Word
Despite its shortcomings, I found Save Koch quite enjoyable. I did find myself getting more bored with it the more hours I put in, but figuring out who the mole and the mastermind is every time is extremely fun. Even though a few nicer touches would be good, I do think it’s a solid title that is well worth playing, at least until you get the correct combination. There’s a lot of replayability to it as well, due to the randomness, but a few more changes to conversations and missions wouldn’t go amiss.