Chariot
Developer: Frima Studio
Release Date: September 30, 2014

The Hype: For reasons I’m still not quite sure about, local couch co-op is making a big comeback in gaming. Another game to boast such a feature is Chariot by Frima Studio. Their 2D platformer follows a princess who has the task of bringing her father’s remains to their final resting spot. With the help of her fiance, the duo pull, lug, and ride their way through many underground mazes so they can locate an adequate resting spot for His Majesty. One catch is the King’s ghost is on board and he thinks his physical form can only be buried with as many riches as possible. Subsequently, the princess and her mate must go off the beaten path in order to collecting as many gems as possible.

In Reality: At it’s core Chariot is platformer. However, its charm and clever design will quickly make any player feel as if they’re immersed in a game which has more depth than a run of the mill downloadable platformer. Landscapes are lush with colorful vegetation and levels are adorned with many gems to keep the most ardent collector enthralled. Puzzle elements will ramp up in difficulty the further you progress in the game and each level has varied elements to keep gameplay fresh and exciting. During our quick look video, we encountered levels where elements were made to look ghostly, and thus could only support the weight of the chariot. Other times, we came across mischievous bats who wanted to desperately steal the gems we collected. Frima Studio has carefully constructed levels as to not provide a monotonous experience. Players will enjoy the classic platforming action, coupled with the occasional close quarters combat, and the long chariot rides down deep decents.

Gameplay: As good as the game looks, Frima has done an even better job with the controls. Whether traversing the landscapes solo or with with a co-op partner, moving the chariot is consistent and intuitive.By letting out some slack on the rope, players can use leverage to pull the chariot up and over some of the toughest spots. During the course of some levels there will be areas which will be designated for co-op play. While certainly entering these areas with a partner makes the most sense, the skilled solo climber can make an attempt to reach the elusive gem. Also, along the way, you’ll unlock various blueprints which can be handed into the shopkeeper who will then issue you the items. These items, such as the Peg, will be welcome additions on levels which present greater challenges. The only issue we’ve encountered so far is that some of these levels are huge, which we like, but the world map is a little bare bones. It’s a shame such a polished game doesn’t have a more detailed or interactive world map. We could envision these maps coming to life after we’ve completed sections or collected certain gems or blueprints.

Conclusion: Chariot is a title we knew little about prior to the ID@Xbox event at Microsoft’s Seattle campus. After we were able to play it several times over the Labor Day weekend in Seattle, we were eagerly anticipating getting our hands on the full version when it released. With a few hours under our belt, the game has certainly met our expectations. Whether playing solo with a co-op partner, the game is challenging, entertaining, rewarding enough to keep you playing longer. For some of us, I know we wanted online co-op but it’s hard to complain about that when the current offering is pretty darn perfect.