Carly and the Reaperman: Escape from the Underworld Preview
The demand for local co-op games has greatly declined since the rise of online multiplayer, so it’s no surprise you won’t find many of them today, especially on the VR platforms. That’s why Carly and the Reaperman: Escape from the Underworld is such a novel experience. By making use of VR in a way I haven’t seen before, this co-op platformer encourages creative thinking and communication between players, leading to a lot of laughs along the way.
One player controls Carly on the computer, performing tradition platforming feats to reach a glowing circle at the end of each level. However, many areas are inaccessible to Carly and she won’t get far alone; that’s where Reaperman comes in. In VR, player two embodies a giant floating skeleton with the ability to manipulate the environment. Often, this means rearranging blocks to create new platforms for Carly. As such, the two must work together in their quest to escape from the underworld.
Between the pair, Reaperman definitely has more responsibilities. He has a bird’s eye view over entire levels, so it’s up to him to scout ahead, bridge platforms, and warn Carly of upcoming obstacles. That doesn’t make Carly any less fun to play though. Aside from collecting the fireflies scattered around, certain actions can only be carried out by her. For example, some blocks are locked and can’t be grabbed by Reaperman until Carly jumps on them. It’s a symbiotic relationship — they depend on one another.
I thought the lack of an online co-op option would be detrimental, but after going through the demo with a friend, I can’t imagine playing Carly and the Reaperman any other way. Being able to quickly and effectively communicate with your partner is absolutely vital. This is especially important for certain platforming sections, where perfect coordination is needed to avoid death. One puzzle towards the end stumped us for ages, and I was glad to have another head in the room to help mull it over. We had to restart some checkpoints a few times, but our failure was always due to poor communication, and it only made us laugh at our blunders and learn how to better accommodate one another.
Think Outside the Box
What I loved most is that Carly and the Reaperman does not care how you hit the end of the level so long as you get there. With a little ingenuity, you can outsmart the game and skip obstacles completely. During the aforementioned puzzle, I got stuck because my co-op partner failed to notice a door he was supposed to go through as Carly. In the path to the next checkpoint was a chasm to big to build a bridge over. If he had opened that door, we would be transported into a new area that would reveal a hint to the puzzle. Instead, we were left with a bunch of blocks we didn’t know what to do with. In the end, I used the blocks to build a tall tower, had him stand on top, and then tipped the tower over so that as it fell, it effectively slingshotted him across the gap and over to the checkpoint. Voilà, just like that, we were able to proceed. This solution wasn’t intended by the developers, but the fact that it worked made the experience that much more memorable for us, rewarding us for thinking outside the box.
Carly and the Reaperman and its unique brand of local co-op fill a void in the VR market. I haven’t had this much fun in VR in ages, and by the end of the demo, my co-op partner and I were left wanting more. Keep an eye for Carly and the Reaperman when it releases on June 19th for Oculus Rift and HTC Vive.
*** A preview code was provided by the publisher ***