If one “next gen” system exemplifies the dwindling market of local co-op, it’s the Wii U. From games developed by Nintendo such as Mario Kart 8 to indie delights like Stealth Inc 2., local multiplayer is alive and well on the system. So it made sense for Chariot to find its way over as well. Boasted as a great local co-op game for the PS4 and Xbox One, how does Chariot manage to fare on the Wii U?
Chariot tells the story of a Princess whose father, the King, has recently passed away. His dying wish? To be buried with as much treasure and gold as possible. There’s a catch, though: you have to get the gold and treasure yourself, all while dragging along your father’s “chariot”, with him inside. It may sound a bit morbid, but it’s actually a funny and well-written tale that features full voice acting. It’s all told in a very light-hearted manner which helps set the tone for the game.
You control the Princess, who must drag her father through various caves and labyrinths to search for gold. Since you’re carrying along a coffin, you’ll be forced to think creatively to traverse each area. Using a rope, you can pull, lift, and control your Father with relative ease, but puzzles littered throughout the game make you rethink your options. It starts out easy enough, but latter levels really emphasize the “puzzle” in “puzzle-platformer”.
While all this adventuring can be done by yourself, it is much more enjoyable with a partner. One player controls the Princess, while another controls a helper. Then, hilarity ensues. The game does become a tad bit easier when playing with someone, but there are certain areas to explore that are best taken on with a partner due to their complexity. There are some cheap deaths both in single player and local co-op, but these are more attributed to learning the terrain.
The game has a simplified combat system for certain enemies that try to steal your gold during the level. It’s a bit primitive and can sometimes be distracting, as the real focus is on the puzzle platforming in Chariot, but it does add some nice variety to the gameplay. There are also level-specific gadgets and blueprints that help alleviate the stress endured while trying to solve complicated chariot-based physics puzzles.
Visually, the game has a clean look to it, with bright colors and very smooth animations. Everything looks fantastic, and the levels are all differentiated from each other both in design and aesthetics. The game’s sound is also highly polished, the voice acting is well done, and there are some hilarious moments in the writing.
Chariot manages to be a lengthy experience as well. Aside from the aforementioned sections of the game that are better navigated with a friend, there are hidden treasures, and even online leaderboards that are activated once you clear each level. It’s fun to try to set a new best time as you progress through the game and gradually start to master its gameplay.
My complaints about Chariot are minimal. While the game is great as a local co-op affair, it would have been nice to at least have the option for online play. This is probably more of a design choice, as the game does have an old-school feel, but the choice to team up with a friend online would have been a great addition. Another minor quibble would be the fact that some of the later levels become maddeningly hard. Once again, probably a conscious design choice, but younger gamers or less experienced ones drawn in by the aesthetic charm of the game may lose interest by that point.
Overall, Chariot is another top-tier indie game on the Wii U. A lot of love and care went into this game, and it shows in both the excellent mechanics and audio/visual package. It has its frustrating moments, but the overall enjoyment of the game manages to outshine any of those disappointing times. If Chariot is any indication of how 2015 will be for indies on the Wii U, we are off to a fantastic start.