And you thought you had daddy issues
Chariot is the charming, characterful tale of a domineering dad bossing around his dutiful daughter from beyond the grave – or rather, from within it. Deciding that his final resting place isn’t grand enough for his regal requirements, the recently deceased king demands that his daughter and her fiancé drag his two-wheeled coffin to somewhere a little more fitting. What ensues is part-puzzle, part-platformer and all physics, as you lug around this bulky bier through bat-infested caves and dark, damp tunnels. Power-ups are gently introduced, unlocked with hidden collectibles found in each level - like pegs to anchor the coffin in place - and as such are useful, but not all vital to progress. The lovely, weighty physics make the coffin feel genuinely heavy as you push, pull and tug it along, but this can also be a hindrance as you find yourself pulled off a platform for the umpteenth time by the ballast of your funereal cargo. Haptic feedback adds to the immersion, with constant vibrations to mimic the feeling of rope in your hand. Chariot’s so clearly made for coop – areas only accessible with two players, two ropes dangling from the coffin, and when the dad’s not talking (complaining) there’s a silence waiting to be filled with bickering – that playing solo has a conspicuous absence of life. Fiddly controls and difficult platforming are irksome alone, but with a friend hanging from a second rope, they reveal their acrobatic potential as you take it in turns to hunker down and lower coffin and chum over deadly drops. The game has much going for it in terms of its utterly wonderful aesthetic – luminescent flowers bloom as you go past, waterfalls cascade in the background of caverns – as well as its unique take on platforming mechanics and some surprisingly great voice acting, but solo play just feels a bit like it’s not meant to be. It’s like receiving an expensive, but re-gifted present. It’s excellent, but it was bought with someone else in mind.
Swing low, sweet chariot. Oh no, not that low! Restart! Publisher Frima Studio / Developer Frima Studio Format Xbox One / release date out now