Last month, I got a 30-minute hands-on preview of Zorya: The Celestial Sisters. This new co-op puzzle game is part of a co-operative development experiment by Montreal’s MadLife Divertissement and TLM Partners. I would have loved to go deeper into this game, especially considering that my assigned partner for my 30-minute experience wasn’t using their microphone, which made this game exceedingly hard.
However, seeing as I did not have a partner for a review period, I’m not going to be able to offer a bona fide review. So, instead, I’ll offer a few more insights I’ve had a couple of weeks after my initial experience.
Zorya: The Celestial Sisters is the kind of game you’ll enjoy if you find pleasure in solving problems with a close friend or family member. I can also see it as being an exemplary experience for players who like to screw over those same people, though. So, I’ll hazard that you use extreme caution when embarking on the adventure of sisters Aysu and Solvig.
One thing I’ve grown to appreciate from my sort time with this game is that there’s an interesting player responsibility breakdown. If you recall my original preview, I was worried that the game skewed its responsibilities more heavily upon the player controlling Solvig. That player has to use their beam of light to shift the shadows, open doors, activate switches and vanquish enemies. The player controlling Aysu only has to stay out of direct light, interact with some objects and switches and blow enemies into the light. While it felt disproportionate in terms of responsibilities to me at first, I’ve come around to the thought that this might encourage stronger puzzle-solvers to help those weaker at doing so by having the stronger player take over Solvig duties. I’ll be honest, there’s also a fair learning curve that’s mostly associated with figuring out how Solvig can move shadows in all directions that feels counterintuitive to real-world locomotion, but once you get it, you’ll begin to fly through levels.
The reason for the partnership between MadLife and TLM is what’s going to make this game for a lot of players: Robust crossplay. So long as both players have the base game [$28], they will be able to play with friends on PC and Nintendo Switch with crossplay that felt extremely fluid when I got to test it at the event. If you want to be better than me at convincing a friend to play with you, the game offers all players a free-to-play Friendship Pass, which offers admission to the game’s first Constellation [world map]. It’s a genius way of taking a small bath before you jump in the pool.