The one great weapon in my arsenal as mercurial uncle and cousin to several infant humans is the timeless game of Horsey. You know – when you get down all fours and offer to give the kid a ride around the sitting room. It’s murder on the old kneecaps, but as any shrewd parental tactician knows, Horsey is a game with a sting in its tail (making this a kind of scorpion Horsey, I guess). The horse in the game of Horsey is free to choose the direction of travel, even if it’s somewhere the rider would rather not go. Towards the bath or dinner table, for instance. Towards the dentist, if needed.
Coridden (Steam page here) is a game that understands the power of Horsey. Developed by Sweden-based Aftnareld and published by Anshar Publishing, it’s a co-op-friendly fantasy action-RPG about four, usefully colour-coded siblings who discover some gauntlets that let them transform into wild creatures, and promptly reinvent themselves as a Diablo edition of the Animorphs.
Based on 20-30 minutes with the demo, it’s a sturdy, straightforward game at heart, serving up the usual, slightly dessicated smorgasbord of mouse-click melee and ranged attacks, jumps and dodges, with gear chests to crack open, levels to up, and (0/3) infested hives to find and destroy. The creature transformations – there are seven “masteries” in all, on top of four human classes – unlock different attacks and specials, as you’d expect. It’s immediately comfortable, and utterly unsurprising.
Where things get a little more flavourful is in the ability to ride other characters and co-op players when they’re transformed. Amusingly, you can initiate this yourself as the animal player by pressing the F key, and I can readily imagine the outrage when your ally’s just about to bag a quest item and you merrily scoop him up in lizard-panther form and gallop away into the bushes.
There’s the makings of a cathartic “family friendly” after-school experience here, in which you can apply the magic of Horsey in a virtual setting – the catch being that your kids will be able to return the favour. Even if there’s no malicious intent, I can imagine co-op teams getting confused during busier, SFX-heavy battles and mounting each other by accident. I mean, I generally forget who I’m controlling about 30 seconds into any top-down skirmish with more than six enemies, and look, the F key is right next to WASD. That’s asking for trouble!
If I were a cynical man I’d be suspicious of the developers on this count, but they seem happily oblivious to the trolling applications of what the Coridden Steam page calls the “pick up a friend” feature. “When your friend is slow, pick them up and go!” it jingles, like an arms dealer trying to pass off a landmine as some kind of miraculous kitchen appliance.
In fairness, the cavalry functionality looks like it could be a life-saver now and then. You can pick other characters up when they’re busy in menus, for example, to save them from enemies they haven’t noticed. If another Coridden player goes AFK, perhaps because it’s bathtime and her daughter wants to play non-virtual Horsey, you can also pick them up and shuttle them to the endgame like an extra-large loot item, rather than kicking them out.
The other way of looking at Coridden is that it’s a druids-only Baldur’s Gate 3 party, which I find entertaining as somebody who keeps picking druids in RPGs, only to realise after three hours that they’re always a dissatisfying blur of melee, support and spellcaster. Why doesn’t Baldur’s Gate 3 let druids impose games of Horsey on other party members, Larian? Do I have to think of everything? Anyway, Coridden is “coming soon”, and you can find the aforesaid demo right now on Steam.
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