By: Jeff Cater
If contemporary gaming were a supermarket, minimalist 2D side scrollers would be sold in claw machines out front by the carts. There are hundreds of them out there, and they’re all basically sold on a chance that you might have fun. That isn’t the case with La Cosa Entertainment’s Klaus, a fast paced, genius puzzler that encourages progression in a very unique way.
The big thing about Klaus is that it uses the touchpad to interact with certain elements in the environment, like a platform that you can slide back and forth or a gear you can spin. At first, this is kind of awkward as it requires a bit of hand gymnastics. Luckily, the DualShock 4 Touchpad is extremely responsive and accurate, so with a little toying around you can become quite good at it.
Klaus can run if you hold R1, otherwise he just kind of slowly moseys around, which is great for precision platforming. You can closely examine your surroundings by pressing the d-pad in the desired direction to pan the camera. Using the analog stick for movement can be a little “meh” at times; it just doesn’t feel as comfortable as d-pad movement to me. Of course, jumping is simply bound to “X.”
Klaus is red, whether or not this represents him being in Hell or not could be up for tinfoil hat debate time. The red motif is only part of the game, so if you get tired of it just keep pressing on! As you progress further up the building, the backdrops change color, but the detail doesn’t really. That’s A-Okay, though, because the gameplay is constantly evolving.
The soundtrack remains pretty minimalistic most of the time. It picks up during the boss fights a bit, but otherwise it stays pretty mellow. That works well here because it’s usually easy to get frustrated at platformers, but the chill music breaks that mold completely.
It is 8-bit or sid-style music, it’s very well done and for some reason it reminds me of the old Dick Tracy NES music. Here, have some Dick Tracy NES music.
Imagine, if you will, waking up in a basement not knowing who you are, where you are, or what put you there. Suddenly, an otherworldly invisible force starts guiding you further and further through this basement, helping you avoid traps and pretty much that whole death thing.
Klaus casts you as that force, helping our hapless amnesiac man who wakes up with the word KLAUS on his arm. In the quest to find this KLAUS, you’ll help this guy cross spike pits and shift keys around using the touchpad and the best jumping twitches you can muster.
When you highlight something with the touchpad, you can then manipulate it with the right stick. Damn it this game keeps your hands busy, but that’s not at all a terrible thing for a game to do.
Anyway, the whole time you’re with this guy, text pops up in the margins created by the level design. As you go further, this man’s conversation just goes and goes and goes, and ultimately fuels your progression and encourages you to push as far as you possibly can.
Puzzles are constantly inventing new problems for your steadily improving skills, and Klaus does a great job at keeping things fresh on all fronts. That, and the guy is just friendly as hell, and he makes you just want to help him!
Twenty bucks is a steal for Klaus and a truly special treat for platforming fans looking for a game of true quality and uniqueness. Not only is it just fun in the first place, it really establishes the player as this lost person’s sole hope at survival and solace, and it plays out fantastically.