I had an idea what Carly and the Reaperman: Escape from the Underworld was about before I started. I mean, there is a giant floating skull called The Reaperman, so I didn’t expect Astrobot Rescue Mission levels of lightheartedness. I expected a dark and moody subject matter with some lackluster and formulaic platforming. Thankfully, I was only half right!
First of all, Carly and the Reaperman from Odd Raven Studios is a PSVR game so you’ll need the – wait for it – PSVR headset. You’ll also need the Dualshock 4. If you’re lucky enough to have a friend to play locally with, then you’ll need another DS4 or a set of the Move controllers. That’s right, it features cooperative play but only locally, so you’ll need to find someone who doesn’t mind being in the same room with you. I played a lot of single-player due to the issue I just laid out, and it was good, but it’s safe to say that the best way to play the game is with a friend.
The player with the PSVR headset will play as the Reaperman, while the social screen player plays as Carly. As the Reaperman, you’re a giant skull and a couple of skeleton hands. The best way to control him is with the Move controllers although you can use the DS4. Using the social screen, the second player will control Carly on an interesting puzzle/platforming adventure. Carly will need the Reaperman to manipulate the environment to proceed through each level. The Reaperman can use blocks and platforms to allow Carly to reach new heights, cross gaps, block lasers and more. Via the PSVR headset, the Reaperman can also see things that Carly can’t see on the social screen. This ups the difficulty and requires some good communication between players. Yelling at my son to just walk forward, while he insists he can’t, “there is no floor!” was pretty funny. If you play single player, this won’t apply. You’re playing as both characters and, therefore, can see everything. Most levels allow you to solve them at your own pace, but some feature a giant white void, slowly devouring the map and you if you don’t move fast enough. These levels upped the tension and offered a nice change of pace. The puzzles are fun, if not overly difficult, and there is some good PSVR style platforming here, but it’s the dark and macabre story that pulled me in.
As the game’s subtitle suggests, you’ll be helping strange shadow characters escape the underworld. As Carly and the Reaperman progress through each level, you’ll uncover clues about these characters that are stuck in this mysterious underworld. Some random crows you encounter will shed some light, but I stumbled on some surprisingly dark graffiti scattered about as well. When you finally clear a stage, you’ll learn about the poor soul who you just released from the underworld. After reading what feels like some kid’s obituary, you do it all over again for the next lost soul. The story and subtle clues are delivered in text bubbles from NPCs. Additionally, as I mentioned, some story context is available if you spend the time to search for it through each area. The story is delivered in a way that can be mostly ignored if you only came for the platforming and didn’t sign up for the saving all of the dead kids business, but you’d be missing out.
I’m not sure there is much replayability, but you can expect up to 8 hours to help everyone escape the underworld if you collect all of the fireflies scattered about each level. So regardless if you play it again, there is enough here to get your money’s worth through a single playthrough. As you can see from the screenshots, the graphics aren’t mind-blowing, but the levels feature an art style that I personally love and the music, while minimalistic, feels just right.
The somber backstory is there if you want it, but that wouldn’t matter if the puzzle-solving and platforming couldn’t carry its weight. Thankfully, that isn’t a problem. Carly performs her platforming duties with all the necessary skills due to the fluid and responsive controls. Carly and the Reaperman may lack the polish of the larger studio produced Moss and Astrobot Rescue Mission, but the gameplay and controls feel just as good. In short, there is a lot to like here. Carly and The Reaperman is fun as a single-player experience, but if you have videogame playing partner in crime, then I’d consider this a must buy.
Carly and the Reaperman PSVR Review
- Overall - Fantastic - 8/108/10
Carly and the Reaperman: Escape from the Underworld manages to be both fun and somber in a way I wasn't expecting. While it may not be quite as polished as some of it's more famous VR puzzle-platforming peers, it's just as entertaining. It's worth a look for single players but reaches near must-buy territory if you have a buddy nearby.
Review Disclaimer: This review was carried out using a copy of the game provided by the publisher. For more information, please read our Review Policy.
Reviewed using base PS4.