Chariot Review (Wii U eShop)

Chariot Speedrunning Contest

The story in Chariot opens on a somber note. The main protagonist, a young princess lays her father to rest. What appears to be tragic and heartfelt moment is quickly shattered by deceased king as his very soul comes out of the coffin to scold his daughter for not burying him with the amount of riches that he rightfully deserves. Being the doting daughter that you are, you happily agree to appease your father, and begin your quest for riches and also a sepulcher worthy of your greedy father. And so begins Chariot.

Because it would be far too simple to gather your father’s requested riches on your own, you must instead bring your very much dead father with you on your quest, meaning that the game is centered on you pushing and pulling your father’s coffin across various stages and worlds. And though the idea of a game-long escort mission seems far from appealing to a wide majority of gamers, Chariot manages to incorporate this central mechanic in a way that creates a fresh spin on the well known platforming genre. Figuring out how to get the chariot across platforms or around obstacles feels less like a monotonous chore which is the feeling usually evoked by traditional escort missions, and instead acts as a clever added variable to the platformer equation, which is one of the reasons for why Chariot is able to truly stand out from other platformer titles.

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The second way that Chariot is able to separate itself from the competition, is through its cooperative local multiplayer. Cooperative local multiplayer is hard to come by nowadays in video games, and not only does Chariot provide local co-op, it does so in a way that creates a cooperative experience so well crafted, that I felt as if I was missing out on the game as a whole when I wasn’t able to play with a friend.

While Chariot as a single player experience is still a notable game on its own, the game cannot be fully appreciated until you experience the brutally difficult puzzles that can only be accomplished with a partner. In Chariot, there are several non mandatory areas found in each level that can only be traversed by using teamwork, and by doing these with a friend next to you, you are able to experience the true brilliance of the chariot mechanic, because that is when the burdensome chariot you’ve been dragging around becomes a helpful tool that you and your partner must figure out how to utilize.

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Another notable aspect of the cooperative sections of levels is that there never seemed to be one single clear cut way to solve one of Chariot’s cooperative puzzles. Many of the times that I managed to complete a cooperative puzzle and acquire the gem at the end, I knew that there was no way that my partner and I had used the path or method that the creators had planned for us to use, which is what makes each cooperative zone that much more unique. Being able to approach platforming puzzles in a variety of ways makes the end prize feel even more rewarding than it would have been otherwise, and doing it by coordinating every move with a partner right beside you makes Chariot a truly memorable experience

The world and levels you travel through in Chariot are aesthetically pleasing in many ways and also compliments the dark and comical theme of dragging your dead father’s coffin through levels in the pursuit of riches, yet once I completed world one, I found that the new mechanics placed in the second two worlds tended to detract from what makes Chariot great. The second world is a perfect example of this, as its beauty and art design is unfortunately overshadowed by the fact that it is entirely dark, and can only be partially lit up by a lamp upgrade for you chariot. No one ever has thought to them-self, “the entire world of Pokémon should be like Rock Tunnel,” or, “man, that dark level in Spelunky is so fun and unique. I wish they would make an entire world like this.”

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The entire first world is bright and colorful, which makes the second world all the more frustrating when you realize that you have to go through the an entire world with only half the level of vision that you had gotten accustomed too. Reaching the third world in Chariot, the ice world, was bittersweet because on one hand, I was excited to be out of the darkness and more than welcoming of the new scenery, yet on the other hand, the new ice and snow mechanic that came along with the third world essentially forces you to throw away everything you had learned and gotten used too in terms of feel when dragging and pushing the chariot.

One other frustrating feature of the game is the enemies. Enemies in Chariot come in the form of various leech-like animals that only have the intention of looting your new found riches. It takes little effort to dispatch of these enemies, which while fun at first, becomes more of a nuisance the more you have to do it, which ultimately begs the question, why do the looters need to exist in the first place? Chariot is already difficult enough on its own, and what’s even more frustrating about the looters, is that they detract from the methodical flow that each level has to it. Once you pull, swing, and drag your father’s coffin around enough, it becomes a fine tuned process that can and will be often interrupted by looters for no reason. There are several instances when the looters’ presence makes sense, like when they serve to act as a punishment for failed actions in the game, but more times than not, I found myself being attacked by bats simply because they were placed along the main path of a level.

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Even with its frustrating world design in later levels, and also the overall nuisance of the game’s enemies, Chariot remains as one of the strongest puzzle-like platformers on the market. The gameplay and physics are both fine tuned so that you can notice yourself get better and become more proficient in pulling your father’s coffin, the more you play the game. Alongside that, nothing about Chariot seems recycled, because unlike nearly every other platformer title, the difficulty isn’t in traversing the levels yourself, but is in figuring out how to efficiently traverse them with your father’s portable coffin. If I could recommend one thing for players planning to get Chariot, it would be to try and find a friend to play it with, because even though the game is great when played solo, it is only truly memorable when experienced with a friend.

Chariot Review (Wii U eShop)
At its core, Chariot is a great, innovative platformer made even better with the addition of a well made local cooperative multiplayer.
Positives
  • A unique platformer experience
  • Brilliant cooperative areas
  • Clever premise and dialogue
Negatives
  • Pointless enemies
  • Frustrating world mechanics
8.5Overall Score
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About The Author

Feature Writer

Eli Hile is a feature writer at Always Nintendo. He likes spreading his opinions and knowledge on all things Nintendo, and is currently a student at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Aside from logging countless hours into Pokemon and Super Smash Bros, Eli enjoys playing tennis or golf with friends.