Platform: PS4, PS Vita, Windows (Planned)
Reviewed on: PS4
Genre: Platformer, Puzzle
Players: Single player
Written by Whistler 8th February 2016
Even to this day there are still games coming out and turning genre’s on their heads.
One genre in particular is of course the platform genre that has had a steady variety of standout titles like Braid, FEZ, Cave Story and to a lesser degree 1001 Spikes.
Adding to the list is Klaus, a puzzle platformer that places emphasis on its driving narrative, but does this help Klaus stand out against the list previously mentioned or is it a clone that can’t hope to imitate them?
Klaus follows the story of the titular character who wakes up with nothing more than his office clothes and the enigmatic tattoo on his arm. His past, present and self are a muddled mystery clouded in more questions than answers. Eventually he rises higher through the office like labyrinth to find another, K1, a brutish man with poor communication skills. Together they must ascend higher and discover the answers to Klaus’s fate and their freedom. The plot isn’t particularly vast but the mysteries and execution of the narrative as it blends into the gameplay helps add flavour to the simple platforming. While the storyline doesn’t hold the entire game up on its own, it complements the gameplay to help keep the player’s interest without interrupting the flow of levels.
Of course the bread and butter for platformer is, well, the platforming.
Everything to be expected is there, Klaus can run, jump and can ‘hack’ terminals to activate other platforms, to add layers to the simplicity, K1 can destroy breakable blocks and barriers with his immeasurable strength, glide and can throw Klaus to otherwise unreachable edges.
Together levels gradually go up in difficulty but never to the point of frustration thanks to the absence of a lives system and unlimited respawns at generously laid out checkpoints.
One of Klaus’s defining features is how the PS4’s extra functionality is implemented, from both a gameplay and narrative standpoint the controller acts as the catalyst for the ‘Player’ as both the controlling medium and a character. The touch pad allows the player to control or interact with certain platforms that can then be manipulated with the right analogue stick. While this does take some getting used to it’s a great and simple addition to the genre’s almost concrete formula. In regards to the second standpoint, Klaus’s narrative heavily involves the player as the third main character. While at first it seems like it was used for a couple of fourth wall breaking jokes the narrative increasingly involves the player as an almost silent deuteragonist where you even lose control of both characters. It’s a technique I’ve rarely seen executed for more than some laughs and had me invested in the mystery.
However as to be expected from a developer’s first fully fledged console title, Klaus doesn’t exceed average expectations visually. There’s nothing to fault in the visuals, the bright striking colours complement each scene and lend themselves to the overall experience; they just don’t stand out. The visuals are functionally sound but hamper Klaus’ ability to stand out from the crowd, its first impressions falls flat unless the player is willing to delve further.
Overall Klaus was a surprisingly fresh experience despite its few shortcomings, it’s an impressive puzzle platformer that defies player expectations in its narrative (as much as the overall plot is predictable) and builds up mechanics to then turn them on their head. Hopefully La Cosa Entertainment can expand on their techniques to offer up more interesting narrative ideas in future projects with an already strong first console launch.
Interesting thought provoking narrative,
Great use of PS4 controller’s additional functions,
Balanced rise in difficulty.
Drags on at certain moments,
Klaus may feel like a clone but it achieves a 7/10 on its own terms.