Do you have any fond memories of sitting beside your friend or sibling, vying for more space as you share a keyboard and a split screen? I certainly remember those days. Sadly, however, there aren’t a great many fun options these days for people who want to play with a friend or family member on the same PC. Especially not when it comes to VR games.
Carly and the Reaperman – Escape from the Underworld helps alleviate that gap a bit by providing a fun platformer that you can co-op with young and old friends or family alike. Odd Raven Studios brings us this dark new adventure in an underworld filled with splashes of neon, lost spirits, and strange beings. One of the strangest beings might be a large skeletal creature called the Reaperman. But luckily he’s made more approachable by his tiny friend – a scrappy but loveable little green haired girl named Carly. The game is available now on Steam for HTC Vive, Oculus Rift and Windows MR headsets, as well as on the Oculus Store for Rift at $24,99 US.
In some ways, Carly and the Reaperman can be compared to another VR adventure by the name of Moss. In both, the VR player takes on the role of a strange, gigantic creature that wants to help an adorable little character on their adventure. A big difference between the two is that Carly and the Reaperman allows the second character to be controlled by another person. Since it’s a local co-op, you will need a friend on hand if you want to play this game. But luckily you won’t need a second PC, since both VR and PC player can play together on the same computer in what is, probably, a futuristic take on old-school co-op games.
So I decided to strap on my Vive and team up with a friend to see what Carly and the Reaperman has to offer.
Check out my gameplay trailer:
Platformers generally start off with a simple intro level to get you used to the game’s mechanics and then steadily progress in both story and difficulty from there. Carly and the Reaperman is no exception here, and takes a steady approach towards introducing both players to how the game works by taking time to introduce new mechanics and puzzles steadily throughout. That doesn’t mean that each round felt regurgitated. There is some overlapping of course, since the surroundings and the main mechanics stay the same, but Odd Raven Studios have done a good job of mixing up the puzzles and keeping the platformer’s pace flowing.
Sadly, there seems to be more downtime for the person playing in VR than the person controlling Carly. With Carly doing most of the legwork in the game. The person playing on PC has a third-person view of Carly and have to move her around the various platforms in the game to collect glowing spirit tokens and spirit’s memories while trying to overcome obstacles and find the exit. The VR player controlling the Reaperman is on helper duty, however, with a birds-eye view of the map and the ability to clear the path or create a new path to help the PC player move along.
There is some variation here of course. At one point there was a part of the platform that only I (the VR player) could see and I had to direct the PC player so Carly could get safely to the other side. Also, because the VR player can see more of the platform at one time, and also move it around or walk around it to see every nook and cranny, the developers also added some elements and puzzles that require the Reaperman player to help point out things and give directions to the player controlling Carly. In that way, the game at least somewhat deals with the VR player having some downtime.
Reaping The Rewards
Carly and the Reaperman offers a polished co-op experience for both PC and VR players. Each gets to experience the game in a unique way, which adds replayability, and the storyline is engaging enough to keep you progressing through the levels in the game. In the end, this game is also a test of your communication skills and those who work well together will reap the rewards. Carly and the Reaperman is a great example of how a co-op can be designed to keep each player engaged in different ways but still working together towards the same goal.
While the gameplay isn’t too challenging, especially in the earlier levels, the puzzles vary enough that you need to reapply your thinking cap for a lot of them. Which is a feature you really want in a puzzle game, otherwise things can start to feel rather stale after a while. Luckily, Carly and the Reaperman doesn’t do stale and will keep you and your friend or family members entertained for hours.
The game also doesn’t feature any combat. The enemies are floating creatures that try to block Carly’s path or wreck the Reaperman’s carefully placed blocks and ramps. Though Carly can “die” and will respawn at a checkpoint if she walks into an enemy or falls off the platform. So besides the gloomy theme, Carly and the Reaperman, with it’s cutesy, colorful underworld is definitely a family-friendly experience.