There’s been a few times in my life where I’ve woken up confused, not knowing where I am and barely even knowing who I am. Of course, I could typically blame it on whatever I was drinking the night before, but that’s not something you can do in KLAUS – the story driven puzzle-platformer from developers La Cosa Entertainment.
KLAUS casts you in the role of… well… Klaus. Or someone who thinks that his name is Klaus anyway – he isn’t sure of anything after waking up in a basement with no memories whatsoever. The only clue he has to his identity is a tattoo on his arm that simply reads ‘Klaus’. You go on an adventure with Klaus to discover who he is, where exactly he is and how he ended up in this bizarre place, and believe me, it’s an adventure you’ll certainly want to go on – KLAUS was a pleasure to play from start to finish.
The game takes you through multiple floors of a building as you solve puzzles, avoid hazards and jump from platform to platform in order to guide Klaus to safety. You’ll control Klaus with the left stick, but you also use the Playstation 4 controller’s touchpad to interact with certain objects in the game, be it movable platforms or doors that you can open. It’s a neat concept and its integration works seamlessly in the game – so often in other titles touchpad interaction can feel cumbersome, but it works fine in KLAUS’ case.
The platforming and puzzle elements are KLAUS’ strongest points, offering varied action from start to finish. The game takes place over six areas and new gameplay mechanics are constantly being introduced, keeping the experience feeling fresh and never leaving you bored. Of course, that’s not to say the game doesn’t feature typical platforming tropes you wouldn’t have seen before – you’ll have your spikes, marching enemies, moving platforms and races against a moving camera, but it’s the kind of gameplay that has aged well over the years.
There are a few other neat elements that the game uses as you progress too. There’ll be moments where you’ll using an electrified charge to make huge jumps from area to area, or also moments where you’ll have to let yourself die and use your corpse as a platform after you respawn. Sure, that sounds grim, but given the context of the level it’s not as sadistic as it sounds – I won’t spoil it for you here though! One of my favourite moments though was when Klaus rebelled and wouldn’t let me control him, leaving me carefully moving platforms with the touchpad in order to guide him to safety as he kept running in one direction. KLAUS utilises plenty of great ideas and constantly keeps them coming – there was rarely a level where a new gameplay element wasn’t introduced.
You’ll also have an extra character to control later in the game named K1. Whilst Klaus depends on jumping and manoeuvrability, K1 instead focuses on his brute strength to smash enemies and obstacles to pieces. It breaks the gameplay up a lot and offers some cool moments, especially when you have to control them both simultaneously. There are moments though where you have to send them both on different paths through a level in order to help each other progress – it’s certainly enjoyable utilising both characters strengths in order to achieve success.
Whilst KLAUS isn’t really an action focused title, there’s still room for some boss fights. They’re simply a case of following the bosses’ pattern, counter it and repeat, but their presence alone is appreciated – even if they can feel a little underwhelming. La Cosa Entertainment have done a great job of keeping things varied and interesting and instances like boss fights shows their commitment towards that cause.
For all its great ideas though, there’s a real sense of familiarity to be found in KLAUS. Whilst there’s a ton of ideas used, and used well of course, you won’t help but to think that maybe you’ve seen it before. I certainly saw influences of Super Meat Boy, Super Mario Bros. and even Braid whilst playing – especially with the aesthetic design of the main character. This isn’t a bad thing by any means; those are some of the finest games created after all, and despite featuring similarities to other titles KLAUS does have it’s own identity. You’ll just feel the vibe of some of these other games as you play through the game.
KLAUS isn’t all about the gameplay though, with a huge focus of the game based around the narrative. Rather than breaking up the gameplay with cutscenes or narrated moments, you’ll instead see dialogue from Klaus appear almost like part of the scenery in each level. It’s a neat and non-intrusive way of telling a story whilst not disengaging the player from the gameplay.
The story is told through dialogue from Klaus and K1 – it’s all well written and actually really humorous, especially some of the inane subjects Klaus will bring up such as the colour of the walls, his disliking of K1 and even your ‘80s buddy cop movie’ relationship. Impressively though you’ll witness a real growth in Klaus’ personality from start to finish. This sort of character development isn’t typically witnessed in a platformer, but somehow La Cosa Entertainment have managed to do it – something that’s both a credit to their writing along with the quality of the backstory featured in the game.
Aesthetically the game is pretty enough with well designed and animated backgrounds, though there’s an unusual focus on each floor being represented by a palette of a particular colour. Whilst this ties in neatly with the story, I found myself getting bored of looking at just the one colour, especially given the length of each level. It actually made some details in the background less noticeable at times – it was hard to notice all the effort that went into creating a neat landscape when it’s all a different shade of one colour.
KLAUS will last the average player around five hours, though there are multiple endings to unlock along with an arcade mode that challenges players to set the best time for each level in the game. There’s also additional secret puzzles to discover in each area that unlock hidden details to the story – I’d actually advise players to seek these out if they want to get the complete experience, and they’re actually some of the most enjoyable puzzles in the game.
I was actually a little disappointed when I finished KLAUS – not at the game itself, but because I was enjoying it so much. With the constant introduction of new gameplay mechanics and great story I was completely engaged from start to finish. Whilst it wears its inspirations like a badge of honour, KLAUS still manages to stand tall as its own unique platformer. I’d recommend giving it a try if you’re seeking some pure platforming fun, or even if you want an engaging narrative experience that’ll keep you hooked in right until the very end.
– Great puzzling and platforming
– New gameplay elements are constantly being introduced, keeping the game feeling fresh
– Engaging story and well written script
– Graphically attractive, but nothing stands out due to colour palettes