Chariot – What We Think
Hearkening back to the classic era of 16-bit platformers, Canadian developer Frima Studio‘s Chariot, which we first saw at IndieCade 2014, is like nothing so much as a more sedate version of the first couple of Sonic the Hedgehog games, complete with lots of treasure-filled secrets, physics-based action and lush, colorful environments to explore.
My Kingdom for a Hearse
Chariot’s unique take on the puzzle platform genre is the titular chariot itself, actually a king’s coffin on wagon wheels; as either the brave Princess or her dutiful Fiancee, it’s your job to push, pull and hoist the royal coffin through a multitude of levels in search of the perfect resting place. You can even ride on it like a skateboard!
In keeping with the game’s gently morbid humor, the ghost of the king in question will emerge periodically to complain or to urge you to collect more treasure, that he might be buried in style once you find an appropriate burial ground.
The game’s challenges arise from the fact that both your character and the chariot need to make it to the end of each level. You can push the chariot, use a chain to drag it behind you, and even hoist it from platform to platform, but if you get separated from your grisly cargo for too long, it’s game over.
Adding further complication are “life paths” and “death rails.” You can walk along a life path, but the chariot falls straight through, whereas with death rails, the opposite holds true.
Chariot was built for local co-op console play, and it shows. You can play through the entire game in single player mode, but there are secrets and treasures that you’ll need a partner to reach. It’s also made to be played with a controller (the game itself will remind you of this every time you boot it up if you’re playing the PC version).
Again, you can play it using keyboard alone, but the price you’ll pay is finger cramps and missed jumps.
A Deathly Delight
A clever take on the puzzle platformer that’s easy to start and builds to more complex challenges as you progress, Chariot is tough enough for hardcore gamers (with the added incentive of speed challenges and online leaderboards, if exploring the lush, colorful worlds isn’t enough for you) but easygoing enough for more casual players.
And despite its seemingly morbid premise, the cutely animated characters, overall lack of violence (you can whack thieving bats and other looters with your sword, but there’s no blood) and gentle humor makes this a family-friendly game, as well. For solo players, it’s a clever new take on old school platformers, but in co-op mode it’s an utter delight.
Watch the trailer for Chariot below: