An office worker awakens in a basement. He has no idea who he is, or where he is. He has the word ‘KLAUS’ tattooed on his arm. And I’m interested.
It’s enough to make me want to find out what happens, and immediately the similarities to Stealth Inc are very strong. Swap Stealth’s blacks for reds and the clone ninja for a cartoonish office worker and you have a fair idea of how this plays. 2D platforming is the name of the game here with some thought required to progress through the game. It isn’t based on shadows though but rather avoiding obstacles to progress to the next level in a more classic puzzle style.
Klaus makes use of the fourth wall breakage by way of dialogue written on scenery as you make your way through the various levels. Witty remarks and comments on your situation line the walls and serve as the narration. This has been seen before in Stealth Inc and it’s done as well here.
The key gameplay mechanism is by manipulating platforms and obstacles in the game world using the touchpad. So for example you could be running around and as you do, you’ll stop and navigate towards a platform and slide it left or right to get on, and then slide back. This also works for switches and other features. It’s really cool to have the touchpad used in this way as generally it’s use on PS4 is mostly limited to additional buttons to push.
I did find that this touchpad usage was actually quite cumbersome to use. Not just because of the placement of the touchpad on the controller, but it did require a bit of scrolling to get the ‘cursor’ to focus on the required aspect to move, but because it often for me broke the momentum. I quite liked speeding through the levels, double jumping, avoiding spikes etc and then had to pause to move my cursor towards the next platform. I also found an odd pace of the jumping between regular jumping (very slow and limited movement) to sprint jumping (much faster and almost too sensitive) and switching between them could be a bit jarring. Often I found myself over or under jumping and dying, having to restart – which does happen very quickly, but then having to break momentum to move platforms all over again.
The art style is unique and striking although won’t be to everyone’s tastes. At times looking cool, at other times looking like one man’s doodling; I can’t quite work out what Klaus is going for. Certainly some of the puzzles are well thought through – special stages hidden within levels are particularly clever and it’s a shame there aren’t more of these.
In summary, Klaus is a neat little platformer with some clever ideas. It has too much of a difference in pace for my liking and I never really felt like it gets going but you could do worse if jumping around is your thing.
Reviewed on PS4