It’s almost universally accepted that two heads are better than one, unless of course those heads share a single body in some freakish radiation-based experiment. Fortunately that’s not the case with Chariot on NVIDIA SHIELD Android TV. What we have here is a delightful puzzle-platformer that rewards cooperation between two players.
That’s not to say it can’t be enjoyed alone. The single player story mode is a joy to play by itself. The game is based on the rather oddly amusing premise that the King of an enchanted land died and his remains need to be transported to their place of rest by the Princess. The king’s body has been placed upon a wheeled chariot and it’s up to the Princess to get the thing to the end of each platform-strewn level by any means necessary.
At a basic level she can push it along, against small obstacles to force it up and over them and use a handy rope to do the same by pulling the chariot. Larger obstacles can be overcome by using the chariot as a stepping stone to jump to higher levels, whereupon which the Princess can then use the rope to haul the chariot up to join her. It’s a simple idea, but cunning level design leads to some pretty tricky puzzles based on forward planning and the game’s realistic physics, which can be utilized to swing the chariot to target platforms, ride it down steep inclines, jump gaps and so on.
Part of the challenge involves collecting plenty of treasure to bury alongside the King, but along the way looters, in the form of bats, penguins and other exotic creatures, will try to rob you, so you then have to whip out your sword and dispatch them as quickly as possible.
The 25 levels presented are enhanced by some excellent scriptwriting and voice acting. The King, who appears in ghost form, is particularly amusing, throwing barbed comments at the player after unsuccessful attempts at a level and also mentioning that when alive, he wasn’t a terribly nice person. It’s not laugh out loud funny but gently chucklesome and endearing.
So far so good. This thoroughly enjoyable game really comes to life when two SHIELD gamers slump down on the couch for a bit of cooperative play. In this scenario, the Princess is joined by her suitor, and together, by means of the same pushing and rope pulling gameplay, they can access whole new areas of each level. With both characters clinging on for dear life and sending the chariot over precipices, they can use the physics to swing to previously inaccessible areas, discovering additional treasures and bonuses along the way. By collecting blueprints they can craft gadgets that aid their exploration. Pegs allow them to tether the chariot to a surface, bombs can be set off to kill large numbers of looters and so on. With two-players it may be fundamentally the same game, but there are many more riches to be unearthed.
Chariot is a wonderful blend of sweet visuals, amusing storytelling, solidly designed puzzle/platforming and a unique form of cooperative play. SHIELD Android TV owners need this in their lives. You can download Chariot from Google Play for $14.99.