Disclosure: This review is based on digital PS4 code provided by the publisher.
The king has died. In Chariot, you must take on the role of the ever-dutiful daughter and honor your father’s final wish to be transported to a resting place befitting his glory. It’s a pretty morbid set-up, but everything else about the game is bright, colorful and fun. And that goes double if you’ve got a friend in tow.
Releasing this October on the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, Chariot has finally rolled onto the PC via Steam this week and, in the not-too-distant future, is expected to continue its journey onto the Wii U.
It’s a rare treat to find a solid couch co-op game these days, so that’s exactly how I chose to play Chariot on the PS4. While I’m sure the game plays just fine solo, I figure it’s a good idea to keep that fact in mind for the purposes of this review.
So, after my girlfriend and I argued over who got to be the Princess, we were up and running on our two-player adventure to haul the king’s rolling coffin to a more suitable burial ground. Speaking to the princess and her fiancé as a ghost, the spectral royalty informs his heir that, on top of wanting a better burial place, he wants said tomb to be filled with riches. Thankfully, the countryside is full of treasure jut lying around so, on your quest, it should be no trouble to gather oodles of loot to sate his thirst for shiny things.
The trick here is that the coffin itself must be near the loot in order to claim it, so moving around the labyrinthine levels becomes more of a challenge when you realize that a hulking coffin must be lugged the entire way. Not to worry, though, because the coffin itself is pretty easy to control and the game gives you plenty of tools and maneuvers to make said traversal a snap. Well, until you reach the later levels, at which point the only “snap” will be the sound your controller makes as you break it in half in frustration. It’s the good kind of “WHAT IS THE SOLUTION TO THIS PUZZLE?!” frustration, though, so not to worry.
Truth be told, the quickest route from A to B in each level is pretty direct, requiring minimal effort to navigate. The maps are full of alternate routes, though, and exploring them will require more skill while simultaneously granting greater rewards. Some puzzles, marked with a special sign, can actually only be completed with a second player, creating some of the best bits of platforming in the game for those who are playing with a friend by their side.
Speaking of which, Chariot controls very well, even with two players trying to tug the coffin this way and that. You can push and pull the wooden box at will, or instantly attach ropes in order to pulls/swing/toss it to more tricky locations. You can also grab blueprints peppered throughout the levels in order to craft helpful gadgets to make traversal a bit easier (relatively speaking).
Within minutes, my partner and I were moving through the world in perfect unison, combining our efforts to get the coffin into tricky locations in order to grab the best loot. It’s a weird sort of ballet that is difficult to put into words, as we managed to get from here to there without a word; leaping, swinging and climbing all over the levels with the coffin dangling between us the whole way through. We just sort of knew what the other player was doing, and naturally changed our efforts in order to complement it.
While the puzzles themselves start to get trickier throughout the game’s dozens of levels, your only real opposition other than the terrain is a group of spectral loot stealers that range from fast and small to slow and more powerful. They pose a minimal threat, but serve the purpose of making you travel more carefully when too much noise from a dropped coffin will draw them in.
And did I mention that Chariot is utterly lovely to look at? While the task of transporting your dead (yet somehow still very talkative) father is a bit on the dark side, the game itself is populated by lush environments with all sorts of bright colors and shiny effects. It’s a treat to look at, which could actually be considered an additional obstacle when your primary focus should be to work in tangent with your partner rather than ogle the landscapes.
In short, we had a blast with Chariot, a rare game that actually feels like it was built with two players in mind. It’s not mandatory--like with Portal 2, for instance--but I have to assume it’s a far better game for it.
In closing, here are some of my favorite comments we ended up shouting at each other through some of the game’s trickier moments:
“Save meeeeeee!” (Shouted while dangling by a rope over a ravine)
“I think you need to stand on the left platform…The left platform…No, the left platform.”
“Why don’t you go to hell?” (Said in response to the ghost king’s sarcastic comments.)
“Yep. Nope. Screw it.” (Finally giving up on a particularly tricky piece of treasure.)
Platforms: PS4, Xbox One, PC, Wii U
Developer: Frima Studios
Publisher: Frima Studios
Staff Writer for CinemaBlend.
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