The Chariot Bundle includes Chariot and the Royal Gadget Pack DLC. Here’s the thing about Chariot; Everything about this game screams high quality. The art work and animations are top-notch, the voice acting is competent and entertaining at times, and the gameplay itself isn’t broken, far from it in fact. So, why do I say all this with a somewhat negative connotation? I didn’t have anyone to play with for most of my time with the primarily co-op adventure. Herein lies Chariot’s greatest, and honestly only major problem. But, I’m getting ahead of myself here. Let’s get to spelunking in the physics-based dungeon crawler, Chariot Bundle.
Chariot opens up on a young princess and her betrothed putting her recently deceased father to rest. Unhappy with his funeral arrangements, the king’s greed manifests itself into the ghost of our hero’s father, begging the young couple to find him a better and more magnificent sepulcher, or monument, while simultaneously gathering and burying him with even more riches and wealth. The story itself is actually kind of a clever idea that takes the fairly tired idea of “Collect everything in a side scrolling platformer and complete level” and adds a nice coat of paint. Yes, you are still collecting everything before completing the level, but you have been given a humorous and exciting context in which to do so.
Gameplay itself reflects this, as you, as either the princess or her fiance (or the shopkeeper if you own the bundle), cart your own father’s corpse around various underground locales in search of a worthy monument. Players can push, pull, and swing the cart around each map as a means to navigate. Imagine the Companion Cube level from Portal, and turn it into a game where the cube calls you a terrible person for not collecting enough gold for it and you have a good idea of what to expect.
During gameplay, there are plenty of collectibles to discover, including treasure and blueprints – used to either create a new gadget or upgrade your father’s cart in order to progress through the game. Beyond that, as you slam and bash into everything, as one is apt to do when hauling a cart up a cliff using only a rope, players must be careful to not make too much sound, indicated by blue sound waves that surround the cart as it bonks its way around levels, as too much noise will attract looters that will come and loot your father’s cart for themselves. While you can, and are definitely recommended in doing so, fight these looters, combat is a little awkward. I found myself using the Shopkeeper most often as my character simply because his ranged attacks bounce around as opposed to being just quick and tiny sword thrusts. It was the only way I could guarantee a hit on some of the smaller enemies.
Another major aspect of gameplay is its co-op. Chariot is 100% intended to be played co-op as almost every level is full of exclusive areas where only two people can go. The few times I was able to convince someone to join me were quite enjoyable. Many of the physics puzzles were tricky and rewarding to solve, especially at the behest of whoever you bring along with you. Unfortunately, most of my time spent with Chariot was by myself. You can certainly play the game by yourself, but what was once an enjoyable romp with a buddy can become an unbearable slog at the drop of a pin. Intentionally or not, some levels punish solo players relentlessly. Trying to bounce the cart on jump pads while simultaneously bouncing yourself is borderline impossible. I found myself giving up any extra treasure at these junctions as a result. In fact, I gave up a lot more than treasure. As many areas in every level are co-op only, I often just pushed my lonely self to the end of every stage without checking for secrets simply because I could not find them on my own. This lead to me even being bored at some points, opting to just turn the game off and play something else for a while. Some of the items provided in the Chariot bundle pack can help alleviate the need for a partner, but considering some levels can be upwards of 30 minutes long and you can only bring one item with you on each trip, I seldom dove back into a cave system once it had been complete.
Even so, I still found many things to like about the game regardless of my loneliness. For one, the game is absolutely gorgeous. The second world, for instance, is entirely in the dark. An odd place to reference beautiful artwork, eh? Well, as you walk by, certain plants begin to light up with light in a variety of bright and fluorescent colors. It almost becomes overwhelming how pretty these plants are to look at. Some objects have unique effects, such as walking in front of a crystal and having your character’s reflection refract through it. All of this can be summed up in one statement, of course. Chariot is a treat to look at.
Chariot Bundle is a really wonderful game, especially at its £15.99/$15 price tag. But, unless you have someone willing to go through the adventure with you, you may want to try something else more suited to solo play. It’s good looks, cleverly written story, and interesting locations don’t do much for you when you’re too busy fighting a cart meant for two. Even so, if you do find someone to play with, Chariot Bundle is well worth the time and effort to make it to the end.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Sony Playstation 4 code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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