WHAT TO EXPECT
"Quest for Karma" is really a puzzle game rather than an adventure. In
"Quest for Karma" you solve puzzles that you find in cave-like rooms that
surround a central chamber. I enjoyed most of the puzzles in "Jewels II,"
which was why I bought "Quest for Karma."
"Quest for Karma" is entirely mouse-driven. Once you enter the gaming
area, your cursor becomes a pink lotus blossom. If you can turn, one of
the petals of the lotus blossom will stick out the side like a thumb. When
you find a puzzle, the blossom will throb when you move the cursor over
Upon starting a new game you get a somewhat blurry video giving you the
background of the story (the puzzles' excuse for existence) and telling
you what you have to do. The game scenario is a variation of "solve these
puzzles and save the world." A video of an old man appears whenever you're
about to enter an area with a puzzle. He makes a speech which is supposed
to give you a clue about what you have to do to solve the puzzle.
Sometimes his "clues" are more helpful than others.
The graphics are quite dated, which is what you'd expect for an older
game. I think it originally came out around 1995, though Dreamcatcher
republished it later. The dated graphics didn't really concern me since I
was playing the game for the puzzles and not the graphics. Everything is
clear enough that you have no difficulty seeing what you're doing.
The movement screen is partially taken up by an interface at the bottom of
the screen which includes niches for the objects you collect as well as a
central button that lets you access save, load, quit, sound options, and
all that nice stuff.
The puzzles are all full screen. You can exit a puzzle by clicking an icon
in the lower right part of the screen.
I was disappointed in "Quest for Karma". The puzzles were mostly not too
difficult (once I figured out what I was supposed to do) except for one
horrendous stinker which resembled the furniture slider puzzle in 11th
Hour. I found the best solution for that one was to get the "Quest for
Karma" puzzle solutions at
Balmoral Software and copy down the sequence of 118 moves necessary to
complete the puzzle. (If I counted right it's 118. It's something like
that anyway). I'm just no good with those sliders that have different
sized pieces. I tried, but I just couldn't do it. So I hit the cheats.
There are a total of 15 puzzles in "Quest for Karma," about half as many
as in "Jewels II." You have to do the first two puzzles to be able to
enter the central chamber and access the middle 12 puzzles. And then there
is an endgame puzzle that you do after you've solved those 12 puzzles.
I never figured out how to approach the second of the two entry puzzles,
which resembles a 6-way abacus. I got the solution off the Balmoral site.
The only way to solve it that I could think of was trial and error, which
is not fun and is not worth my time. If someone knows of a logical way to
approach this puzzle, I'd like to know what it is.
Each time you solve one of the 12 puzzles in the rooms around the central
chamber, you win an object. In order to access some of these puzzles, you
need to have won the bell from the memory puzzle (Balmoral says it was
from this puzzle. I don't remember which puzzle it was and I'm taking
their word for it).
Once you have solved the 12 puzzles and won all 12 objects, you can solve
the endgame puzzle. This is fairly easy if you don't mind trial and error.
I think there may be a clue in the room opposite the entry to the central
chamber, but you can only access that when you first start the game and I
didn't go back to check.
Some of the puzzles were very annoying. One was the memory puzzle
involving cards. When you start the puzzle, the cards flip over for a
second before flipping back. You have to match up identical pairs of
cards. You're allowed 3 wrong guesses before you have to start all over
again. Every time you make a correct pairing, the pair disappears and the
remaining cards briefly flip over again so you can have another look. This
repeats until you only have 6 cards left. Then no more free looks. Some of
the cards look a lot alike and since you only have a second to remember
where the identical ones are it gets very tricky. There's no real logic
involved though, and I don't think it's much of a puzzle.
Another annoying puzzle was an arcade-like thing where I had to shoot
oncoming chess like pieces with an arrow before they could make it to my
side of the checkerboard. "Jewels II" had no arcade puzzles and I was
surprised and annoyed to see one in "Quest for Karma."
Another coordination puzzle involved getting a bubble to float across the
screen into a mouth at the other side of the screen. Your only means of
control is a sort of blowpipe at the bottom of the screen. Across the
screen was an obstacle course of burr-like things. If the bubble touched
one of the burr-like things, it would pop. Once you finally get the
blue/white bubble across and into the mouth, you have to get a red one
across and then a green one. Your control of the blowpipe's effect on the
bubble is very tenuous and the main part of the puzzle was finding what
little control I did have and when I was able to use it. Not my favorite
kind of puzzle.
Other puzzles were almost ridiculously easy, like a Tower of Hanoi type
puzzle with only 4 rings to shift over and a puzzle where you had to
switch 4 turtles to opposite sides of a circular grid.
So if you consider that most of the puzzles were too easy or too hard or
too reflex-oriented or too trial and error, and that there are only 15
puzzles in all, there aren't really many good puzzles in the game.
Andrew Plotkin reviewed this game at
and he didn't think any better of it than I did. He played the earlier
edition of it that was called "Karma: Riddle of the Twelve Caves." I think
he played the Mac version, though I'm not positive.
Adventure Collective has another review
with pictures of some of the puzzles.
"Quest for Karma" says on the game box that it is for Win 95 or Win 98 and
requires a Pentium. But the paper with the game instructions that is
inside the box says it will work with Win 3.1, Win 95, or Win 98 and only
needs a 486/66. I played in Win 95b on a 200 MHz Dell computer with
onboard sound and an S3 video card.
"Quest for Karma" did not require a separate QuickTime installation the
way "Jewels II" did. It may use an old version of QuickTime that's built
into the game engine. It's possible that the PC version uses Director 4.0
instead, since that's what it said on the one error message I got. My
"Quest for Karma" game is for both Windows and Mac.
"Quest for Karma" runs in 640x480 and 256 colors. If you try to play the
game with your desktop set to 16-bit color, the game will refuse and tell
you to change to 256 colors before starting.
I had one crash to the desktop. No freeze. Just "Voila! Desktop!" I was
fooling around trying things at the time and I may have pressed I key I
shouldn't have. After that crash, I played for hours without any problem.
Videos were blurry and grainy and movement tended to be somewhat jerky.
I had some sound dropouts or hesitations during the videos - just for a
fraction of a second. They happened fairly often, but weren't bad enough
that I couldn't make out what was being said.
After I finished the endgame and was getting the congratulatory message
about how my actions were going to bring joy to the world (hehe) I
suddenly got my first and only script error. It said "Script error:
Message expected." I suspect this means a missing file. It wasn't critical
since the game was essentially over by that point.
According to Balmoral Software, you need to add a file called DISCISCC.DLL
to your Windows folder in order for "Karma: Riddle of the Twelve Caves" to
install. Apparently this problem was corrected in my "Quest for Karma"
version of the game because I didn't have the file and the game installed
without incident. I have version 1.3 of the game.
MY OPINION OF IT
I might have enjoyed the game more if I hadn't previously played puzzle
games that included some of the same puzzles. There just weren't enough
good puzzles which were also new to me for me to really enjoy the game
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