Crafting Magic: The Journey of STUDIO TOLIMA's Koira into Our Hearts

With the web constantly flashing with new releases, standing out in the video game space demands something special. This is where Koira, from the Brazilian studio Studio Tolima, moves: a game that seeks to entertain its audience as much as it aims to make a lasting impact. Revealed for the first time at the Day of the Devs event on 7 June, Koira’s development process is as deep and rich as the game itself.

Discovering Koira's Enchanted World

On the surface, Koira’s distinctive aesthetic is instantly recognisable. Crisp, intermittently animated and accompanied by a musical score with distinct levels of dynamism, its visuals are striking, yet minimalist. Koira is an interactive experience, not a game, and a smart one at that, offering a way to stand out in the busy, competitive summer space. A commercial project by a Colombian studio, Koira is a collaboration between Studio Tolima and Don’t Nod.

The Essence of Koira: A STUDIO TOLIMA Gem

At the centre of Koira is a world that was created from the ground up by the small team at Studio Tolima. During a Zoom call, the mastermind behind the game and its director Ben Lega elaborated on the imaginative process behind the game’s world construction. Beginning from the notion of wanting to create something visually distinct but without losing emotional impact, from the initial animations the team settled on the story of a forest spirit and a puppy travelling together through a snowy magical forest to a soundtrack of music and moments of musical interaction that shephers the narrative forward, without so much as a word of dialogue.

An Animated Adventure Like No Other

Studio Tolima’s task in creating the animations for Koira was to create something beautiful and efficient. Because the game relies on flowing, lifelike character motions, animating it would have taken a long time with hand-drawn animation, particularly if it had to be done for every combination of character and action. By using a mixture of real hand-drawn and procedural animation, the motion of Koira’s characters is given a flowing nature that can be applied to every variation of action and body, adding to the charm of every moment of the game.

The Symphony of Koira

Music is also a key component of the storytelling. Aside from the vocal gibberish provided by the characters, there are no lines of dialogue. There are only musical cues and instrumentals that mark moments, progress and tell you what is happening. It’s a great virtue in a game that doesn’t have a line of dialogue, and the composer Reginald Nowe has been involved since the very beginning of the project, providing much of the atmosphere.

Anticipating the Magical Journey Ahead

Although a 2025 release for Koira is on the schedules, the hype is already palpable, especially given a promise of a Steam demo, coming this summer. The early rumblings of an experience in Koira’s universe cannot come soon enough for an audience of eager fans and curious newcomers alike, hungry for more from Studio Tolima.

A Look Forward: STUDIO TOLIMA's Vision

Every new detail we learn about Koira seems designed to show that Studio Tolima is not so much making a game as shaping an experience, an experience designed not only for the story of a jungle-demon and a dog, but of a new and wondrous way to think about friendship, adventure and the power of music.

Recommended Escapes

And Koira is still a place to lead. Even now, the gaming landscape is constantly evolving, with everything from hardcore roguelike action with Tenjutsu to flighty magic with Quidditch Champions slated to release; Koira also has a new tester on the team and a new version on the way. But it could be that what Koira did best – its refined simplicity and feeling – is what makes itself carve out something unique among the hundreds of games that come out every month.

Understanding STUDIO TOLIMA

At its centre was one of the most fascinating games I’d ever come across: Koira, a project from a young studio called Studio Tolima. Opened in 2012 by game designer Alexander Montoya and programmer Eric Berrueta, Tolima is one of the latest contenders in the indie game movement. What distinguishes its body of work, aside from obviously stunning visuals, is a structure that focuses on storytelling through gameplay rather than through the traditional narrative form of cutscenes or text dialogue. Koira’s journey isn’t just a trip to the magical realm, but an invitation to be moved as deeply as it is amazed.

In an industry that values originality as the biggest draw card, Studio Tolima seems to be on the right track, seamlessly blending art, music and storytelling in a way that should have gamers across the world salivating at the prospect of seeing more. We certainly will. Koira is out now for the PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 5.

Jun 09, 2024
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