Klaus is an interesting title, but not for what one might think. At first glance, it seems like a simple platformer, but upon further inspection, it’s a loving tribute to pop culture in terms of style and presentation. Right from the start of La Cosa Studios’ adventure, the title character wakes up without his memory, finding the name “Klaus” tattooed on his arm. As he progresses, he discovers more about himself, finding out his name and finding out more elements of his life, among other things that we won’t spoil here.
Klaus has a visual style that reminds one of various animation over the years, some production companies like Jay Ward Productions, Studio Ghibli, and even Disney. Using high contrast and a narrative that is told through well placed typography, Klaus mixes these elements well to make something rather unique. The humor of the game is not only funny, but also can get rather dark, as players find out as they progress. Klaus can run, double jump, and hack terminals as he makes his way to the exit of various levels that dig deeper into his psyche. Klaus will also be introduced to a disembodied character, one that tells him what to do, but also has the ability to move platforms via the touchpad, this character essentially being the player.
Getting a bit further into the game, Klaus will meet up with K1, a very large man with a simple mind. Klaus, even with his memory loss, is the smarter of the duo, K1 makes up for his lack of intelligence with brute strength. Various barriers will need to be broken, whether they be done with a punch, or even a well placed “Shoryuken” to bust through ceilings. While Klaus can double jump, K1 can glide using his shirt like a cape, and he can even throw Klaus to get him in hard to reach areas. Both characters can be controlled individually, or at the same time when holding the triangle button. Even though it doesn’t feel like it would work, controlling both character at the same time is actually a breeze, making it rather fun to get through the platforming challenges.
There will be cases in the game where Klaus will find a portal to special stages, ones that focus on aspects about himself. One such stage would be a challenge where Klaus can only go left, needing to make use of the touchpad to control the environment around him. While Klaus will only move left, platforms and walls can push him right again to make it so he can get to where he needs to go. This particular special stage was unique and worked really well, and each special stage promises to offer other unique features as well. At the end of these stages would be a collectible that tells Klaus more about himself, collecting all of them unlocking the game’s true ending.
A bit later on in the game, Klaus enters a sort of “glitch” world, where there are new rules that feel very similar to the special stages as well. One such level had a “missing code”, where Klaus’ body wouldn’t disappear when he died, and there was a large array of spikes that needed to be crossed. Since Klaus’ body remained with every death, the player has the ability to make a set of platforms, morbidly using dead bodies as a means of crossing. It’s dark, but rather unique, making this platformer really stand out among the rest. Another level would make the exit move whenever Klaus moved, so players would have to use walls and platforms to move Klaus to his goal.
A lot of story elements felt spoiled for me during my demo, but at the same time, I was given patches of the game, almost like patches of memories for Klaus. I would see parts but would have no exposition, and the gameplay and story intrigued me enough to want to find out how these situations happened. Through style, fresh ideas, great level design, and a well-balanced pace, Klaus really shines as La Cosa Studios’ debut game. People don’t have to wait long for Klaus either, as it’s expected to arrive in January next year, exclusive to the PlayStation 4.