By Chris Picone, 24 August 2022
Ever since Brothers (Tale of Two Sons) came out, I always wanted to play a dedicated co-op game, but I didn't really have anyone to play with at the time and it just never really happened. Until now. River Tails looked like the perfect game to try out with my young fella (9 years old) - so I did!.
Bright, colourful, not quite cartoony but a very splashy low-res style that probably reminds me of games like the original Spyro the Dragon and that ilk. It's clearly aimed at kids but very nicely done. The water looks inviting, the protagonists are super cute, and the piranhas are suitably nasty. Also features some nice comic-style cutscenes between levels and at various checkpoints throughout.
Nice and simple two-button controls where one button jumps and the other interacts with the environment. The while idea is (of course) the cat and fish need to work together in order to succeed. So the cat has to open flower gates for the fish to swim through and the fish has to tug on vines which raise or lower barrels for the cat to jump around on. The puzzles are fairly simple but do require a combination of reflexes and teamwork to get through as many of them are multi-layered. For example, in some cases the fish might be required to raise barrels for the cat to progress but the cat needs to stay close to the fish to scare off the piranhas. Other times the fish might need to move from one vine to the next, pulling up the next barrel for the cat to jump on before the one it's standing on sinks. It also pays to stray from the beaten path where you can find lots of turnips, diaries, and other cute little characters hiding about the place.
I imagine there must be a niche audience dedicated to co-op games but I've not met them. But if that's the experience you're looking for, River Tails definitely delivers. I can imagine young-ish kids having fun playing this together although I think they might struggle with some of the trickier puzzles. What I can say for sure is that this is a great game for any parents looking to have some fun playing videogames with their kids. It's nicely polished, it's fun, check it out.