Carly and the Reaperman is at its best when playing with a friend and at its worse when playing alone.
Carly and the Reaperman is a unique virtual reality title that blends both the platforming and puzzle genres. Players take on the role of either a young girl named Carly or a giant skeleton head known as the Reaperman. Sometimes both can be played depending on if you're alone since Carly and the Reaperman was built with cooperative play in mind. Going it alone with a more cumbersome control scheme that allows for control of both characters at once.
The game perfectly balances both platforming and puzzles so that one never overshadows the other. Carly and the Reaperman is simple but effective in providing basic levels that require some considerable effort to complete. Whether players decide to do this alone or with another will determine whether or not they'll have fun during their time with the game. Carly and the Reaperman's most prominent issue is its egregious control scheme with one player on PSVR in particular.
Players going alone will use the left analog stick to control Carly and the cross button to jump on and off platforms. The Reaperman is controlled using the touchpad primarily. Moving up and down is done through some odd finger motions on the top and bottom parts of the touchpad. Turning is done with the right analog stick. Early on, the controls in single-player mode are easy enough to deal with but they become quite annoying as the game's puzzles become difficult over time. The camera can also be distracting and potentially cause dizziness as the player tries to micromanage both characters.
As the Reaperman, the goal is to pick up specific blocks and use them as platforms and tools for Carly to get from the beginning of a level to the end. It's a simple idea that has more and more complex obstacles thrown into the mix as the player gets deeper into the game. The game introduces players to simple square blocks at the start that can be placed for Carly to jump over larger gaps that would otherwise be too wide for her natural jump animation. As time goes on things like bridge blocks, tiny blocks, lasers, enemies, and more will be introduced to the player. This happens rather quickly and Carly and the Reaperman does not give players much time to become accustomed to these things before the harder levels are introduced. The increased difficulty is only natural in puzzle games but it comes just a little too fast in Carly and the Reaperman.
Sometimes solutions to specific puzzles don't always come across as obvious, either because of the design or the shortcomings of the PSVR. As previously mentioned, the camera and controls can be problematic, which can leave some players wondering if they're not progressing. It becomes tiring when already difficult asymmetric levels become even tougher due to things out of the player's control.
Cooperative play is the ideal way to experience Carly and the Reaperman. One player can use the PlayStation Move controls to easily maneuver the Reaperman as the other player controls Carly to reach the end goal. Both perspectives are quite different but the game still encourages players to work together. Carly can point to specific objects and even see what the Reaperman sees. Players will be in the same room as one another so cooperation is easier because of this. Even when some of its obstacles get in the way, Carly and the Reaperman at the very least provides some good laughs when played with a partner. Controlling the characters is much easier when they're distributed between two players with three controls as opposed to one DualShock 4.
Despite Carly and the Reaperman's grim setting, the game has a lighthearted and visually appealing art style that looks great in VR. Carly and Reaperman's relationship is built in small ways throughout each level as well. For example, Carly can change the Reaperman's appearance, giving him a variety of silly face accessories. The two also do a fun little fist bump right at the start of the game which is as adorable as it sounds. Between both real-life players, these things can be quite funny. The story never takes itself too seriously as Carly explores the Underworld and ultimately tries to escape while helping some of the world's inhabitants along the way.
Carly and the Reaperman might only really be enjoyable for those who have another person to play with. The controls in single-player on PSVR are too cumbersome to have that much fun in the later levels. Completing puzzles alone will more often than not result in a sigh of relief as opposed to the triumphant feeling players would get otherwise. Carly and the Reaperman is commendable as it really tries and executes a unique idea almost flawlessly. PSVR's wire clutter might make it difficult for two players to comfortably play with proficiency, but when it does work, it works well.
Carly and the Reaperman is available now on PS VR for $10.99. Screen Rant was provided with a digital download code for review.