Weird is how I would have described Karma. Incarnation 1 (Karma from here on out) when I first saw it. Now that I’ve played for a while I can now definitively say that, yeh… it is weird. The story is more heart-breaking than that of FIST OF AWESOME (FOA from here on out) being a love story and having your love being stolen from you like the Adventures of Lolo. In FOA, you only lose all of humanity and the game treats it as a one-liner fest. It’s not all heartless since you are fighting through time to correct it and rescue humanity from the rule of the bears… so there’s that. In Karma you basically go on this funky misadventure throughout a few different worlds with a “rocket” to gather items of great power to stop evil (at least I believe so) and rescue your girl. The plot is deeper in Karma only due to the “Lolo” factor.
There is a lot more action in FOA though. FOA allows you to fulfill all of your bear/deer punching desires. It can be satisfying as well as frustrating when you either off a boss bear or get stun-locked by a group of deer. Punching, kicking, back-kicking, nut-kicking and throws, FOA has options. Karma doesn’t really give you that freedom because Karma is a click-adventure. There are options that allow you eat or growl at people, but they are all pre-acted so it can come off as less fulfilling since you aren’t actively eating people, only “passively” doing so. The main difference is that while in FOA, killing things is a good thing and it levels you up and furthers your pro-human mission, in Karma… eating people isn’t exactly the best thing to do. The issue, depending on your skills as a click-adventure enthusiast, you may not see another way around it. For myself, I ended up being a bad guy and not realizing it until I was half-way through. At a certain point, I didn’t know what else to do and in order to progress in the game, the only option available to myself seemed to be blasting people. I couldn’t finish the game at that point… it made me sad.
So what’s the main difference in a side-scroller and click-adventure? Puzzles usually. Side-scrolling beat’m-ups usually have you punch/kick your way from one side to the other. The only “puzzle” is how to take out all of the enemies on the field without dying. Click-adventures usually have you using your brain a bit more. I don’t play these very often because I find them rather frustrating at times and when I “get” the puzzle that I was struggling with I either feel like an idiot for not getting it sooner or want to punch someone because I couldn’t get it without finding some “how-to” video on YouTube. I don’t like to “cheat” on games, but sometimes I get stuck and I hate being stuck for more than 30 minutes in general. The problem with being stuck in a click-adventure is that, unlike trying to find items for a simple achievement in an FPS, you need these items to progress or you’ll never beat the game. (For some reason, if you give me full 3D movement, puzzles are easier. Don’t ask me why because I don’t know, but it’s still frustrating.)
Karma will also play with your eyes more. There is a lot to look at in the world and then there is also a world underneath what you are currently clicking through. You have a mode that allows you to see to a “spiritual state” of the world around you. It’s kind of funky/drug induced looking, but an interesting way to give hints and hide things from the player. On that note, FOA has nothing to offer in this arena. FOA is a more plain game in this sense, but it doesn’t need this kind of mechanic and I feel that the gameplay may have been bogged down if they did something crazy looking like this. In the end, Karma just tends to be shinier.
FOA is also an RPG and Karma is definitely not. They both have ways of progressing your character. In FOA, you make your character more powerful and fast. This is a bit of a grind, but it’s at least in there. There is no gear to pick up so you’ll have to be satisfied with the incremental stat buffs. Karma is a little different because there is no strength to build up. However, if you remember Fable… it’s kind of like that. If you do bad things, then you will grow spikes and eventually evil horns. This ties into what I mentioned earlier about not being able to complete the game and having it reset on you. I’m not sure if you do good things that you’ll get a halo or anything, because I’d have to play the game through a second time. Granted, it would be quicker because I essentially know what I’m doing, but I’m still disheartened because I was trying to be good as much as I could (because my inner paladin wanted it so), but some of the options weren’t so obvious.