Game: Zorya: the Celestial Sisters
Genre: Puzzle, Platformer, Adventure
System: Nintendo Switch (also on Steam, (Windows)
Developers | Publishers: Madlife | TLM Partners
Age Rating: US E10 | EU 7+
Price: US $24.99 | UK £22.12 | EU € 24,85
Release Date: February 8th, 2022
You know how Paula and I love being on the same page in gaming. Think I’ve mentioned this before, there’s nothing better than to play a game together. Not necessarily sitting on the same couch, just playing the same game at the same time is enough. Chats back and forth about our experiences, about our excitement and helping each other along. So when TLM Partners asked us to take a look at the demo for Zorya: the Celestial Sisters we happily obliged as the description promised a cooperative game. Curious to learn what this meant we each downloaded the game for free in the Nintendo eShop. Let’s take a look at what you can expect.
Will You Invest?
As the way to play this game is special, I’m going to start with that. What you download in the eShop (or in Steam, for that matter) doesn’t cost you anything. On the one hand it serves as a demo, giving you an idea of what to expect. On the other hand Zorya: the Celestial Sisters doesn’t have a solo player mode. So even in the demo, you have to find someone else who also has the demo downloaded to play the five free levels. The game has online multi-player (Nintendo Switch Online is needed) and you can also play with someone else near you.
Should you love the game and want to buy it, that means you, of course, unlock all levels. It also means that the partner you are playing with can play right along, needing nothing more than the demo version. Essentially this means that if you shell out and buy the full game, everyone playing with you doesn’t have to invest anything. I’m not sure that is a good idea. Sure, when you have more than one Switch among family and friends, you could agree to split the cost. But would you do it to play with strangers over the internet?
It’s All About Communication
Back to the game itself. Paula and I played the demo together to see how that would work. First, you are presented with a story that sounds good, still images with a voice-over telling you what drama unfolded in the life of the two sisters, goddesses of sun and night. Here’s the description:
“Stranded on earth, Aysu, goddess of the night, must find her way back to the sky! Helped by her sister, Solveig, goddess of the sun, Aysu must safely navigate the shadows to regain her powers that are scattered across the never-sleeping lands of Viraj.”
One player controls Aysu and the other controls Solveig. Solveig is the one who can shift the sunlight and by doing that, create shadows. Shadows that Aysu needs to move, because just being out in the sun for a moment means her end. It’s a very nice idea, a brain teaser to get it just right for Solveig, and for Aysu it means keeping on your toes so you don’t get fried.
This is harder than it sounds when you are playing together online. You have to find a means to communicate your intentions. For us, it was easy as we chat on iMessage the entire day anyway. But if you are playing with an online stranger, you have to use the communication wheel with options like a pinned flag to show the other player where to go. I’m not sure if the options available would be enough though if it’s your only communication mode.
Playing the Demo Levels
With having played only five levels it’s difficult to judge the gameplay. I must say I enjoyed playing as Aysu more than playing as Solveig. When you are Solveig and control the angle of the sun and sunbeams, the camera feels a bit wonky. Hard to get it just right and zoomed in, without missing essential elements for you to control. I guess it makes sense though that you are zoomed out, as you are the Sun! Playing as Solveig worked better, the camera and zoom functions worked as they should.
Every level introduces some new element, like controlling switches and levers. Or humans who try to hinder Aysu to reach her goal.
As this are only our impressions I won’t add a final verdict but I will say this: Overall it looks good, the graphics are great and the storytelling draws you in. Clearly a lot of effort went into getting the environment just right. A good puzzler, but I do wonder if the concept of having to play multiplayer will work. Plus, it’s nice that only one person has to buy the full game. But who’s gonna pick up the tab?