In today’s age of gaming, on-line connectivity is one of the prime basis for most games on the market. Big name games such as Call of Duty, Destiny and Borderlands advertise the enhancement of social experiences, but this is mostly all done through a headset.
Frima Studio, based out of Quebec City, Canada, has brought back the personal experiences of two player couch co-op. There is nothing more exciting than sitting next to someone and working together to achieve a goal, especially when working together isn’t just for progression, its essential for game experience.
Chariot, the newest platform game from Frima, follows the quest of a princess (and her fiance) to bring the recently deceased king to a gem filled tomb fitting for his eternal slumber.
Chariot is a true authentic co-op game, because it will take communication and teamwork to coordinate on who goes where and does what in regards to level progression. It is truly unlike most games on the market.
The gamers responsibility is to push, pull and reel the “chariot” that holds the remains of the king through 25 levels of various complexity. The core of the game involves attaching a rope to either side of the chariot while lifting it over bumps in the path, onto unstable platforms, and keeping it protected from any encountered dangers. The rope can be tethered and unhinged at any time by holding and releasing the trigger button, which is an essential key to navigating the chariot through some tough spots. Rope can also be reeled in or let out to vary the length. The player must be of a close proximity to activate the rope though. Luckily, the chariot can also be used as a stepping stone to help reach locations slightly out of the jump radius of the player. Or even as something to ride on when navigating down long ramps within the caves.
The path you travel is never just straight forward, and may involve ghost paths that only the chariot can ride on, or pitfalls that require you to dangle in order to cross safely.
Thankfully as you progress, there are several “checkpoints” that will be activated so if you do get stuck or lost, you can activate a reset and it will take you back to the last checkpoint.
Essentially, for the game to progress, the chariot has to go everywhere you go. If it is left behind or ventures off screen for too long, a forced restart of the section will occur. The chariot is needed to be in close proximity in order to collect any of the items in the game (gems, blueprints, etc..). Checkpoints will not activate without the player and chariot. It is essentially like babysitting the king’s remains at all times. (Yoshi’s Island flashbacks anyone??).
If the navigation of the various caves isn’t enough of a challenge, there is a presence of a creature called a “looter“ lurking around in each level. You`ll see creepy red eyes popping up in the background, and when in close proximity of these, the chariot must be handled with care. Any bumps or bangs to the ground or walls will generate noise, causing several of them to attack the chariot. While the looters will never attack the players, they will pilfer gem loot from the chariot (which you have been collecting) and so it is the players job to fight them off (the princess is equipped with a sword and the fiance throws rocks).
This is very frustrating as it will require you to sometimes drop from your current task of chariot navigation just to fight the looters, causing you to have to restart the whole process again.
Every level can take as little as 10 minutes to an hour, depending on how much exploring the players intends to pursue. Players will constantly require team brainstorming in order to successfully navigate the chariot. There are arrow markers placed throughout each cave to guide the player in the most common path, but there are usually two or three different `solutions` to each level, guiding to different exit points. Through exploration, extra loot can be found to assist with gameplay in future levels in the means of blueprints (to make devices for the chariot) or gems. There are also marked two player sections in every cave that contains hidden loot.
All of this can be quite an overly complex problem for completionist gamers. As you get further into the game, the levels become harder to navigate and multiple cave entrance and exit points will just lead back to previous sections.
Once players are experienced enough with a cave, there will be a Speedrun feature unlocked, wherein you attempt to get the chariot to the exit within a set time limit. There is a leaderboard feature available to allow you to compete against friends.
The excitement of the way that Chariot`s game flows, it gives the players a sense of achievement. Unlike most games, that a specific path is carved out, you get the feeling as though you are in control of where you go in the game and how you get there. Though essentially all players will go along the same path, no two players will specifically navigate the game the same way.
Though Chariot has a morbid concept, dragging around a coffin essentially, the game is far from dark. The environment is cartoony and filled with bright vivid colors and bubbly characters. The game has a light hearted attitude. The king is constantly making appearances in ghost form, making demands or commenting on you handling of the chariot or questioning the princesses` choice in men.
There is an absence of music in the game, it comes and goes very noticeably, but is not enough of a distraction to take away from the game flow.
It should be noted that while the assistance of a second player is practically essential to fully collect everything and complete the game, it isn’t essential in order to enjoy the game. Chariot can be played solo, and is still a very exciting adventure. However, it will cause the puzzles and navigation through the game much more complex.
There is a few issues I found during gameplay. One is that, unlike most games, there is no introduction to game controls in the beginning of the game so the player is left to figure out how to activate the rope and jump by `button mashing`. The controls are eventually shown via signs on the starting path, but it is after the player has already been forced to figure it out themselves. This is a concept that some players will enjoy and some, like myself, will find frustrating.
The other is that the trigger button to activate the rope has to be constantly held in order to activate and keep the rope on the chariot. As soon as you release, the rope will retract. So ensure to take breaks to let that trigger finger rest.
In the end, Chariot is one of the best co-op games that I have played since the age of Super Mario Bros. The game is extremely creative and is constantly instilling you with a sense of accomplishment. It will push teammates to points of intense contempt and gratitude when it comes to working together to move the chariot, without messing up what the other player is trying to do. It creates a memorable cooperative experience, a definite gaming bliss.
So what are you waiting for…your chariot awaits!!
Chariot is currently available for PS4 and XBOX One. Release for Wii U and PC will be sometime in November.
Check out the game release trailer:
Frima Studios Website: http://www.frimastudio.com/?en
Frima Studios Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/frimastudios
Frima Studios Twitter: https://twitter.com/FrimaStudios