These days, four player co-op is about as arcade as they come – and I’m not talking four TV’s with four consoles and a Herculean internet connection. I’m talking four players hacking it up on the one screen. The kind that found its origins through Gauntlet, Golden Axe or even Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Having played the first section of Temple of Osiris, it became clear Crystal Dynamics remember these days, but more importantly they remember what made them fun.
Entertaining four players on the same screen is a huge task. It’s kind of like extreme babysitting — not that cushy gig that allows time to catch up on the latest shows — rather planning an evening that will keep four annoyingly astute children engaged at all times.
Some co-op games make the mistake of ignoring certain players, giving more control to one party in particular. Others try and address each individually, leading to an isolated style of what should essentially be “co-operative” play. Temple of Osiris however proves that the best way to keep each player engaged is through personal interaction, creating a dialogue between the game and its players.
Even with this formula in the bag, these metaphorical babies still need to be handled with care, especially seeing as two take the form of Isis and Horus, more recognisably known as powerful Egyptian deities.
The Gods have teamed up with archaeologists Lara and Carter to oppose their fellow God dog-headed Set, as he’s made a move on Osiris’s tomb – and that’s generally a no go zone. What follows is a top-down, co-op action romp that looks like Diablo, plays like Gauntlet, yet somehow maintains that old-school Tomb Raider feeling.
Besides the universal ability to drop unlimited bombs, Deities heft magic staffs that shoot laser beams (like all deities should) as well as cast magical barriers that can either be used as shield or as leverage, allowing other players to jump on their heads to reach higher places. Archaeologists wield dual pistols and grappling hooks, the latter being used to scale walls and ravines, simultaneously being used to rappel team mates safely up, down or across each of these.
These mechanics may sound simple at first, but the situations they create are what make them interesting. Not only do the game’s puzzles change depending on how many people are playing at one time but (as always in our loving world of games) the option to troll your team-mates can sometimes be too all inviting. Does the hero give into hubris and spite a God? Dropping them mid rappel to their troll-icious demise? Or does the God squish a petty human? Activating their shield to push the mere mortal off an edge, simultaneously vanquishing the poor soul who was mid rappel in such glorious betrayal?
We may never act on these desires, but the fact that these options exist allow for both Aragorns and Boromirs to emerge. More importantly they add tension to already tense moments. Take when my party were being chased by a giant angry crocodile. We came to a hurdle where the Gods needed to boost the Archeologists up onto a platform, and then the latter needed to rappel the former up, all before the angry croc came crashing through. There is so much room for error here, and a lot of shifting of trust. In a moment that was very “DON’T LET GOOO!” “I WON’T LET GOOO- oops” Carter happened to drop Isis and, regardless on whether it was intentional or not , it could still come back to bite him later on when the roles will inevitably be reversed.
Each character can be upgraded by utilising items found in each instance, such as relics to upgrade certain abilities or even simply extra firepower picked up along the way, so as the game progresses characters abilities may shift a little more from these two classes, but that is yet to be seen. We only got a taste of what this can do, but as the level came to an end we saw Horus and Isis mowing down undead hordes with machine guns, which was equal parts a bizarre and hilariously welcome sight to behold.
Fun is definitely the keyword for this title. Whether it be through trolling, co-operating or just shooting the hell out of Egyptian mythology, my short time with the game was frankly, too short.
Needless to say, I’ve already began recruiting three other, very honest, very respectable players to play alongside me come ToO’s release in December. Whether they truly hold any of those traits is yet to be seen, but I can’t think of a better way to test it than throwing them through the gauntlet of The Temple of Osiris.