In a mid-2016 Humble Monthly bundle, a title conjured the smallest spark of interest; it had something to do with flying, and the cover screen seemed to hint at a colourful landscape. Six months later I have had the chance to at last install and take flight in Copoka, a beautifully flawed game that has achieved what so few have this year; it made me feel.


Click on this image to see the first trailer of Copoka. Be prepared for the incongruous gunshots of the studio’s splash screen; otherwise this provides a comprehensive overview of the game.

As a public address system announces across a lifeless courtyard one year since the deposition of the incompetent authoritarian government, a bird rests nearby in its nest. The whispers of widespread illness, malcontent and unrest are heard but unacknowledged by the black-throated magpie-jay* on its pursuit of shiny trinkets to hoard.

As the free flying bird picks up speed and takes to the skies, an accompaniment of stringed instruments seems to propel it forward, driving the urge to shoot through tree canopies and over rooftops. Moments when this crescendo collides with delightful sounds of brushed leaves are as powerful as those when it fades away, leaving a newfound silence to be pervaded by distressed civilians and the ringing of church bells. Copoka, to me, is a piece on juxtaposition and it is at its best when it embraces this.

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Despite the melancholy company of mournful and divided society, Copoka is a fascinating city laden with fascinating moments, and not all of them are miserable. The sombre tale set in cool grey structures and across paved pathways works less as a thoughtful dystopian piece and more as a backdrop to accentuate the vibrant colours of the trees and the weight of the surrounding snow-capped mountain range. The player may spare a moment to feel for a concerned citizen before exploring the city slums, but this experience is self-interested, the result of embodying such a detached entity. This world’s problems may seem severe, but they do not concern us, so we are free to explore, to ponder, and to appreciate the contrast of dark and bright; natural and artificial; solemn and sublime; and the unsettling beauty inherent in the divide.

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None of this is enough for Copoka stand as a fully-fleshed experience given the shaky foundations beneath, always threatening to give way; often committing. The game is not technically sound, at least not on my computer, with huge framerate drops culminating in frequent crashes, and the occasional refusal to operate upon loading a game. Even if some of the writing is of interest, and its implementation is engaging, the voice-acting is irrefutably shoddy. I’m not sure if Copoka is a fictional Swedish city or British, a parodic combination of the two, or perhaps seems that way given the availability of voice actors: I suspect the lattermost.

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The narrative and inferred characters of Copoka are mere scenery, while the brushing of tree leaves and strings-driven avian ascent take centre stage. The rewarding substance of this experience is minimal in design and serving size, and the ancillary elements do not rate well in comparison. For that reason Copoka will not be atop any game of the year lists, and is hard to recommend generally.

Copoka is not perfect, and this is exactly why it is lodged in my mind. Its beauty is made real through the immediate flaws and those that develop throughout the experience, making it feel authentic as if the game, like the rest of us, is trying its best, and not achieving everything it wants. It does not need to be perfect to be beautiful, and as a short, subtle, wondrously emotional piece of art, Copoka has done more for me in this time of need than anything this year.

While I have talked about Copoka as if it were its own entity, the truth is of course that these emotions and sensations have been created by a group of real-life humans, a Swedish development team called Innacurate Interactive. Copoka will hopefully be released on the Steam and Humble stores soon.

*I think this may be the species of bird. It is never brought up, and I suppose it probably doesn’t matter.

About The Author

Nick feels nostalgia but only for Treasure Mathstorm. He likes games and sometimes has the energy to write about them. Does most of his complaining over at @NickLongshaw.