We were lucky enough to attend a hands-off preview event for the upcoming asymmetrical co-operative game Zorya: The Celestial Sisters. While I was there I got to watch a decent portion of gameplay from both perspectives. It was a lot of fun, both seeing the gameplay and hearing the developers talking so passionately about their game. After coming out of the event, I now firmly believe that this will be the best co-op game to release since It Takes Two.
“Due to the unique perspectives of both goddesses, each player will experience the game in entirely different ways.”
Zorya: The Celestial Sisters is set in a captivatingly beautiful world in which Asyu the goddess of the night has fallen out of the sky. Now that the darkness has gone, it is up to both players to help her return to the sky once more in order to restore the balance of night and day. Each player controls one of two goddesses – either Asyu or her sister Solveig the goddess of the sun. They will have to work cooperatively to help Asyu reach the end of each level.
The most important element of a cooperative game is ensuring that all players have something to do. I can’t stress how many times I’ve had the displeasure of playing a cooperative experience in which myself or the person I am playing with does little more than stand there and twiddle their thumbs. Fortunately, in Zorya: The Celestial Sisters this does not seem to be the case.
Due to the unique perspectives of both goddesses, each player will experience the game in entirely different ways. Where Solveig can see the entire map, Asyu can only see what is directly around her. As Asyu cannot leave the darkness, it is up to Solveig to manipulate time to shift the placement of the shadows. However, Solveig cannot reach switches hidden inside buildings. So, it is up to Asyu to push them out into the sun so that her sister can touch them.
“Each mechanic within Zorya: The Celestial Sisters works in conjunction with one another to create a beautiful sense of harmony.”
I found while watching the developers play that neither one of them was ever without something to do. Whether it was communicating what was directly around them, or interacting with one of the many elements in a level, both players were kept busy. Furthermore, there was a lot that needed to be done together, as opposed to solving puzzles independently of one another.
For example, there are enemies scattered throughout certain levels that will hurt Asyu. While in the shadows, Solveig cannot affect them, so it is up to Asyu to push them into the sun. Once there, whoever is controlling Solveig can stun them for some time.
Each mechanic within Zorya: The Celestial Sisters works in conjunction with one another to create a beautiful sense of harmony. Not only is this a mark of a great cooperative game, but also a prime example of how to create a far more immersive world.
“With hidden collectables to find and stunning vistas to gaze upon, Zorya: The Celestial Sisters is not without phenomenal exploration.”
We only got to see a handful of levels throughout the hands-off preview, but what we were shown was certainly interesting. Each one introduced a new mechanic that completely shifted how the players interacted with one another. Whether it was ice that needed to be melted or switches that needed to be pushed, there was always something new for the players to do.
According to the developers, they’re aiming to introduce a new mechanic every two to three levels. This constant shifting of gameplay wasn’t ever to the detriment of the experience, however. They simply elevated what was already an engrossing experience.
Additionally, each level felt thematically different. Despite each one being covered in a blanket of snow, their place in the narrative and world had a direct impact on their overall tone and feel. While we didn’t get to see locations from every area, we did see fishing villages full of enemies and ruins with perplexing puzzles. Each level was as beautiful as the last and begging to be explored. With hidden collectables to find and stunning vistas to gaze upon, Zorya: The Celestial Sisters is not without phenomenal exploration.
“The character and world design are spectacularly stunning and constantly colourful.”
Outside of the gameplay, Zorya: The Celestial Sisters still shines. Its visuals are incredible, evoking a delightful sense of childlike wonder. The character and world design are spectacularly stunning and constantly colourful. It was especially a lot of fun to watch the effervescent and exceptionally fluffy Asyu bound about each level.
Here are a few other notes and observations that I made that are worth mentioning:
- There is no singleplayer which makes sense and is probably for the best. This is a game that requires a lot of cooperation between each player and will therefore be best experienced with a friend.
- You can play in splitscreen mode which will undoubtedly be my preferred way of playing.
- There is a friend pass which is a fantastic idea. Both players can pick up the friend pass and play the first five levels for free together. If one person has the full game and the other has the friend pass they can experience all of Zorya: The Celestial Sisters together.
- While the developers are focusing on the PC and Nintendo Switch version for the time being, they may consider other consoles going forward.
- Oh, and it looks amazing.
“Zorya: The Celestial Sisters certainly has the potential to be the best cooperative adventure game since It Takes Two and Portal.”
I think my experience with Zorya: The Celestial Sisters can be best summed up with one word: cosy. Zorya: The Celestial Sisters is a beautifully exquisite game that is full of colourful. Not only does it look phenomenal but it clearly plays brilliantly too. From the diverse range in mechanics that’ll keep both players occupied to the warm and heartfelt aesthetic that I truly adored, Zorya: The Celestial Sisters certainly has the potential to be the best cooperative adventure game since It Takes Two and Portal.
If you are interested in checking this stunning game out, then you can head on over to its Steam store page and wishlist it right now. It is launching on February 8, 2022 for Steam and the Nintendo Switch. There will be two versions of the game you can buy. There is the standard edition that costs $24.99. Additionally, you can pick up the Stellar Edition. This will cost $29.99 and contains the game, soundtrack and a digital making of art book.
Check out its launch trailer here.
Check out its Steam store page here.