Platforming video games have been around since the early eighties when the art of hopping and bouncing from platform to platform while desperately avoiding dangerous obstacles became all the rage with arcade specialists and console gamers alike. With a vast and glorious history behind the coveted genre, it’s really no surprise to see more and more platforming games popping up all over the place. Team Meat’s 2010 classic Super Meat Boy pushed to raise the bar for the genre and delivered not only a perfectly executed platforming title while also setting a trend for titles to follow. Of late there have been some great additions to the popular genre with Fez, Thomas Was Alone and more recently Unravel lighting the way, and of course, some not so popular titles. La Cosa Entertainment’s, Klaus looks to join an elite club but does it excel in providing a unique take on the genre or fall foul to repetition…
Klaus: PlayStation 4 [Reviewed], PlayStation Vita
Developer: La Cosa Entertainment
Publisher: La Cosa Entertainment
Release Date: 25 January 2016
Price: £15.99 [Disclosure: Game Copy Provided by Developer/Publisher]
Klaus centres around an office worker who mysteriously awakens inside the basement of a factory with no prior memory of who he is and absolutely no idea of his location, the only thing to aid the lonely office worker is written upon his arm with the word “KLAUS”. Obviously baffled, the worker sets off in attempt to discover more about himself while unravelling the mystery concerning his surroundings. Across the ensuing levels and worlds, players must guide the game’s protagonist through a foray of differing levels and obstacles including of course spinning saws…lots of spinning saws, as well as electric rays and pools of lethal acid in a quest to get to the bottom of the mystery and discover his true identity.
Developers, La Cosa Entertainment have made great use of the DualShock 4’s Touch Pad, which helps the player to trigger certain objects throughout levels, with one simple swipe over a cog, doors can be lifted and put back down, lifts can be elevated to help the player reach otherwise unreachable areas in the level and can also be used to block off attacks from the games vicious little enemies. For me, the use of the PlayStation 4’s Touch Pad is heavily underused today and appeared to be more or better suited for the Vita. Klaus proved that there is a place for the swipe system on the PlayStation 4 and the developers have executed it very well.
While Klaus has very little in the way of a narrative driven storyline, the use of spoken words scattered throughout the game both through the tv and scattered randomly across the screen aid the protagonist throughout the game which left me with a “Memento” type feel. My only gripe with the way Klaus’s story is portrayed would be that written words can at times appear so quickly and with so much going on in front of players in the way of obstacles, a line could be missed or go unheard, causing confusing, in an already confusing game.
The levels within Klaus are both consistently beautiful while also fitting the game’s overwhelming theme perfectly. They also don’t fall into the category of mindless repetition, which can often be the downfall of so many platforming titles. When you’re running through levels albeit at pace, while using great timing and awareness to avoid the obstacles in your path the last thing you need to see is the same repeating background, which adds nothing new to the game and tend to pull the game down with it while driving players away. La Cosa Entertainment developed differing levels with numerous navigational patterns to accompany them, they introduce different ways to make it through certain levels including my least personal favourite control layout, reverse controls, actually, scrap that, reverse controls with spinning saws…for the love of all that is holy!
The use of the DualShock 4’s Touch Pad was a nice addition to a great puzzle platforming game, however, La Cosa strived to take it one step further with the introduction of a second controlled character with K1, who unlike the protagonist, is heavy in stature while also possessing the ability to clear away certain obstacles that would prevent player one from progressing further in the game. The expert use of teamwork between the two completely different characters not only works incredibly well it adds a new level of control and feel to Klaus. Switching between each character is simple yet effective with both K1 and the games main protagonist combining well to reach their target.
As well as driving the plotline at you with sprayed words and random mumblings Klaus employs the use of secrets to further enhance the game’s storyline. Hidden or not so are glowing orbs that once touched transport the player into a seemingly different universe where the bizarre becomes at times insane as players are tasked with making it from one end of a level to the other while performing various tasks which include controlling four players at once to hopping across random words, if all six secret rooms are found and completed throughout each world the collected pieces combine to deliver a fragment of the players memory, gaining more insight into the protagonists history, including his childhood and romances.
Klaus’s inspirations are evident throughout and although the game doesn’t implement anything particularly groundbreaking to a hugely popular video game genre it provides players with a fun yet challenging experience, while being a great 2D Platformer addition. Klaus boasts beautifully yet varied levels and intuitive controls that make playing the game extremely simple for newcomers. The game’s difficulty increases with each level navigated which pushes the level of challenge higher than the previously manageable levels. Of all the plus points I could attribute to Klaus it would be the that it delivers a poignant story providing of course that you can get your head around the corporate theme.
La Cosa Entertainment’s use of the Touch Pad works effectively and is pleasing to see, tasked with continuously having to swipe the DualShock 4 controller to get around forces players to think more when tasked with puzzles while the introduction of a second controlled character adds to the simplistic nature of Klaus’s mechanics. Klaus is by no means Super Meat Boy, they’re probably never will be another platformer like the one Team Meat created, it won’t however drive fans of the genre away and has a decent level of replayability about it.