As delightful and cunning as so much of Chariot ’s design manifestly is, the game’s tedious insistence on outmoded, strenuous difficulty slowly but surely becomes its undoing.

Initially a truly joyous exploration of how to successfully move a two-wheeled coffin around a series of treacherous caves, before long you rarely do anything other than progress upwards, meaning that the tiniest slip can (and does) result in an  incomparably discouraging loss of progress.

It’s also deceptive. The first few levels aren't so much a relaxed gateway as complete anomaly; the small areas leg-ups and emphasis on jubilant speed all disappear before you reach the end of Level 1-3. After that, you’re gauging blind leaps of faith in complete darkness (never before have a game’s suggested brightness settings been better ignored), trying to maintain your balance on blocks
of very erratic ice and slowly progressing through levels that take nearly a full hour to complete.

Despite its simple conceit though, Chariot’s complexity is mostly welcome. Sometimes the freewheeling sarcophagus you’re pushing and pulling around is a pendulum, used to fling you (and your co-op partner) to safety. Sometimes it’s a runaway train for you to hitch a ride on.  Very  occasionally, it’sa roller coaster or a battering ram.

The game is at its very best when it’s relentlessly shifting gears, the ebb and flow serving to both keep things engaging, and give you a meaningful sense of momentum that’s sorely absent from the rest of it. 

The macabre plot, which has you carting a dead monarch around while he fussily selects his final resting place, is preposterous and silly but never twee. That said, it is a truly upbeat individual who isn’t exasperated when the king “amusingly” mocks the oft-complicated (and needlessly long-winded) structure of some of the levels. One aspect of Chariot that’s worth praising  very  highly  indeed  is  that  it  does work both on your own and in local co-op.

The complicated physics and labyrinthine maps feel like they were built expressly for co-op, but if you’re very dedicated, it makes for a slower, more pensive but equally rewarding experience alone... if you can cope with the near-ceaseless punishment , obviously.

Difficulty aside, another significant problem is that the game’s  camera  is an inexplicable blockhead. When you’re rushing through mazes at high speed to ensure that the chariot doesn’t outrun you in another part of the level it’s supremely aggravating when one of you stumbles and falls, because the camera always opts to follow that player instead of the one attempting to continue playing.

Chariot is harsh, good looking and only really an option for people who have a lot of spare time on their hands. The number of people who  reach its climax is all set to be record breakingly slender.