Great platforming and a 4th-wall-breaking message.
Finding top-notch platformers on a system boasting regular iterations from Mario and his pals isn’t a tough proposition. However, Klaus not only brings skill-based, puzzle-platforming to the Nintendo Switch but also offers a story that is more interesting and deep than most you will find in this oft-shallow genre. From the basic premises necessary in a game of this type to the additional aspects that add charm and flavor, Klaus can easily be recommended to anyone who enjoys games in which you jump a lot.
After waking up in a dark basement with no memory, our protagonist has no idea who he is or why he is here, just that he has “Klaus” printed on his arm. Discovering that he isn’t alone, Klaus begins to have conversations with the player about himself. He realizes that you are aiding him in this journey, so you quickly become a confidant of his. As you progress upwards through this prison-like building, you discover machines and other creations that will make you question everything that is happening here, as well as where the player’s motives lie. This dialogue is presented in the platforms you are making your way through in a really dope style. Between the story, multiple endings, and the style that oozes from every crevice, Klaus is enthralling.
Platforming is tight and feels great throughout, as quick twitch reflexes and accuracy are absolutely necessary. Rather than playing as a straight platformer with enemy types waddling towards you, most of what you will play through consists of battling through puzzles rather than foes, even if you will have the occasional boss fight to deal with. Lasers and pits are your worst enemy here, and utilizing moving platforms and changeable geography are how you navigate your way through Klaus.
Certain objects, such as doors and platforms, can be moved by the player to allow for a safe haven for Klaus. This might be the only cumbersome system throughout the experience, however, as controlling one (or more) characters at a time through moving laser grids while also needing to capture a moving platform and use it to block said lasers can be brain-bending and difficult to get used to. That being said, it was nothing that I thought took away from the enjoyment, as juggling these mechanics is really the only thing that adds a layer of difficulty onto this journey outside of increasingly challenging levels to maneuver through via puzzle stop gates.
Aesthetically, Klaus brings the good stuff, as the mostly black, white, and grey terrain is peppered with color to emphasize objects or paths. The proceedings also get a bit psychedelic during secret stages found in every level. Flashing lights in these sections need a seizure warning, but the overall style is top-notch.
If the story presented in Klaus isn’t worth your time, you can easily move through this one without taking the time to discover what is happening in the background, as a majority of the story beats take place within those secret levels, at least until closer to the end of the game. Regardless, this title works well for the puzzle aficionado, platforming veteran, as well as the player looking for some deeper meaning hiding beneath a regular-old video game.
Klaus is an impeccable experience from top to bottom. Platforming is engaging and tight, the puzzles will keep you on your toes, and the story offers up something that matches mind-blowing tales such as Limbo or Inside. The struggle with managing all the moving parts and some unfortunate flashing lights aren’t enough to bring this one down too far on the list of stellar platforming experiences on the Nintendo Switch.