Chariot Review – A Long Haul (PS4)
Lately I have noticed many games trying to encourage cooperative play that requires communication, and I appreciate that. A game that would have been tedious and long when playing solo becomes a fulfilling adventure when you can complete puzzles with a friend. Chariot is a polished and unique physics-based puzzle platformer that definitely becomes a much more enjoyable adventure when you play with a friend.
I was surprised and impressed by the quality of the game. Chariot’s graphics were bright, colorful, and solidly illustrated. The humor and voice-acting were not cheesy like I was expecting. I wish there was more talking in the game, because the occasional lines from the dead king or skeleton guide were very entertaining. The quality of the voice-acting is one of the main reasons this game is great. It adds a lighthearted fun and charm that would be completely missing without it. The story relies on the funny situation the main character and her fiance are in. Upon bringing her father’s funeral chariot to his final resting place, the father’s ghost rises up and complains about the quality of the spot. He demands his daughter pull his chariot to a better place, and collect more riches along the way. The hilarity of the story makes the gameplay have an overall playful tone to it.
The physics of this game are really brilliant. They force you to think about the puzzles and about how you play platforming games in general. You have to pull or push the chariot, and can use a rope to haul it up ledges, use it as a step to hop up from, or hang from it as it glides along “ghost rails” that only support the ghost-toting chariot. Not only do you have to figure out how to bring your chariot with you without leaving it alone for more than a few seconds, but you have to explore the level thoroughly to collect all the blueprints in order to get gadgets and upgrades crucial to completing future levels. And let me tell you, the layout of the levels is not necessarily straight-forward like you would expect. It’s not just “go forward on the path and eventually reach the exit”. There are often multiple routes you can take, and you never know which one will lead to the exit. This is not in itself a bad thing, but dragging a cart through the levels is almost as tedious as actually dragging a cart everywhere in real life. The characters also move excruciatingly slow and in turn pull the cart slowly, and the game has an absence of a “run” button. Eventually I gave up trying to go back and explore every single path and find every collectible and I just beelined to the exit, or to what I hoped was the exit.
I have the convenience of living with my lifetime co-op partner, and this game really benefits from being played with a friend. Moving around becomes easier because two people are focusing on trying to pull the cart along, so when one person messes up and the chariot goes falling into the depths of darkness, your buddy most likely will still have a hold on it, saving you from having to revert to the last checkpoint. I will say, the checkpoint system is pretty easy because each one is visibly activated when you pass it, and to revert back you simply hold circle. But doing this for every slip-up is very tedious. Having a friend is also beneficial for the co-op only puzzles. The co-op specific paths only get you tons more treasure, so you don’t have to play with a friend if you don’t mind not having loads of shiny gold and gems, but passing them by the whole time you are playing feels like you’re missing out on a major aspect. And from level one, you are presented with some very challenging co-op puzzles. I was surprised how we were just thrown in to certain situations and had to struggle to figure out what we were supposed to do. After a couple of those puzzles, though, we recognized a trend and got better at completing them with less initial befuddlement.
I do not enjoy playing this game without my co-op partner. Not only are the controls and physics very tedious and time-consuming, the levels are vast, and combined with the cumbersome movement and chariot-pulling, the game is not fun when attempting it as a single player. It felt like most of my time was spent walking through long tunnels and pulling the chariot through minor obstacles put there to entertain me while travelling to the next puzzle area. It is so much better with a friend. It challenges you to communicate quickly and effectively in a way that is somewhat more intense than other co-op games I’ve played. While playing it with a friend, I would often exclaim, “This is fun!” but while playing by myself I would think, “Why am I playing this?”
Chariot is a great addition to my co-op game library, but alone it becomes tiresome.The physics are really new and figuring out the puzzles is entertaining. It has a lot to offer with 25 massive levels, and high replayability with alternate entrances and exits, collectibles, and speed run challenges for each level. The scope of Chariot is much larger than I would have initially imagined, but trying to take on everything it includes can be exhausting. I wouldn’t recommend this experience for anyone without a co-op companion, but if you’re itching for more couch co-operative games to play, Chariot is an awesome two player adventure.
Chariot review copy provided by publisher. For more information on scoring, read our Review Policy here.