Have you ever dreamt of dragging your parents’ remains around until you can find a suitable location to dump them? Well dream no more! Although Chariot isn’t quite as morbid as this statement, the plot of the game is eerily close. You play as a princess (or her fiancée) and must transport your late Father’s chariot around numerous maps in order to eventually find a suitable resting place for him. “Why can I not simply dump the chariot wherever I please?” you may be asking. Well, the King isn’t quite as dead as he may initially seem, and his ghost accompanies you all throughout the game, occasionally offering a sly joke or throwaway piece of advice. The plot doesn’t really extend much further than this, but it’s enough to give your journey a vague sense of purpose.
The first thing that genuinely surprised me with Chariot was the inclusion of voice-acting. Now, this is not simply sounds which accompany the on-screen dialogue, such as that found in the classic Banjo Kazooie, but actually fully fledged voices for key characters. This boils down to only the King himself, and a skeletal merchant you encounter between missions, but it’s a unique and nice addition for such a small game. The occasional quip from the King while travelling really adds a sense of humour and personality to the game which would otherwise be absent, due to the locales in which you venture being slightly clichéd. You’ve got your typical spooky cave or lost forest, and while they are at first interesting to explore, things quickly become repetitive. The almost complete absence of a musical score within many of the environments also doesn’t do much to detract from the sense of monotonous isolation you’ll encounter throughout the game’s 25 stages either, although it is rarely there to keep you interested.
In fact, the ability to extend and decrease the length of your rope attached to the chariot can make for some interesting and unique puzzling, but sadly things never reach ingenious levels of brain teasing. Sure, sometimes you may need to push the chariot through a barrier which you yourself cannot traverse, and then meet it on the other side, but the gameplay never becomes outstanding – it always remains just enough to keep you going.
Throughout your adventure you must try to keep quiet, so that you don’t wake the numerous bandits in the levels from their slumber, who will then go on to attempt to rob your chariot of its riches. This adds a fun mechanic to the relatively simple game, although things quickly devolve when combat becomes involved. Although I never expected intense melee combat from such a puzzle game, the only method in which you can ward off attackers is to spam the attack button until you hit every enemy with your sword. There’s literally no variation in the combat, which is frankly a missed opportunity, as it would have added a whole other level to the game.
Chariot is a fun way to pass the time, but is sadly another eventually forgettable indie title on the new consoles. It will clasp at your attention and sometimes succeed, but in the end you won’t be trying to achieve the speed-runs for each mission that the game challenges you to. For the low price that it can be purchased for however, I can definitely see people garnering some enjoyment from its simple, charming graphics and gameplay, especially if you bring along a friend for some good old couch co-op puzzling action.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Microsoft Xbox One code was provided to Brash Games for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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